Entergy Sees Nuclear License Renewal for New York’s Indian Point

Entergy Corp., the second biggest U.S. nuclear operator, expects federal approval to extend the operating life of its Indian Point reactors, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Leo Denault said.

“It is our belief that we can get through the process and be successful,” Denault said in an telephone interview today. “We also think it’s going to take a while and we really don’t see it getting it resolved before 2018.”

State officials and environmental groups are fighting Entergy’s application with the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission for a 20-year license renewal for Indian Point, a two-unit nuclear plant located about 24 miles (39 kilometers) north of New York City.

The NRC has said Entergy may continue to operate Indian Point’s 1,028-megawatt Unit 2 while it reviews the renewal request. The reactor’s license expired in September and the license for the 1,041-megawatt Unit 3 reactor expires in December 2015.

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo has said Indian Point should be closed because it isn’t feasible to evacuate the metropolitan area’s 20 million residents in the event of an accident. Entergy, based in New Orleans, has said the reactors are safe.

Denault said Indian Point operates in the “best market” and has the “best overall cost structure” of the company’s competitive nuclear units, which have come under pressure as low costs for natural gas drive down power prices.

The company’s 838-megawatt James A. FitzPatrick reactor on New York’s southern shore of Lake Ontario is in a “more challenged market” and has a design similar to Vermont Yankee, which the company decided to shut earlier this year due to lower prices.

Indian Point generates about 25 percent of the power used in New York City and Westchester County, according to Entergy.

Exelon Corp. is the biggest U.S. operator of nuclear plants.