Nuclear New York


After the federal government let NYRI make a fortune punching a new powerline through from Upstate to Downstate, other companies looked over Upstate's relative proximity to New York City and did the same, giving the growing metropolitan area much more direct access to power. Con Ed celebrated by getting rid of its waterfront diesel emergency generators and closing the incinerators, celebrating the availability of new power supplies. There was also talk of finally decommissioning the Indian Point nuclear power plant.

The temporary drop in energy prices thanks to the new power lines encouraged the creation of some 'bubbles' - multi-block indoor malls - were developed in Lower and Midtown Manhattan, creating huge 24 hour zones freed of weather and traffic, daytime and nighttime, though residents on the upper floors could still see the outside world. The bubbles were financially successful, but a major new consumer of power.

There were also problems on the demand side. Even at the start of the new connection, Hydro Quebec and the New York Power Authority couldn't grow their hydropower to fill the metropolitan area's growing power demands. Over several decades, the declining quality and quantity of coal available made old coal-fired power plants less attractive and more expensive to run. The price of natural gas spiked up 500% around 2015 as several large fields depleted quickly, making it an especially expensive source for electricity. Rapidly developing wind power helped, but the continuing growth of energy demand Downstate drove prices higher and higher.

In 2025, the state attempted to balance the environmental issues of coal with the economic issues of high energy prices. To meet Downstate energy needs, promote safety, and lower the cost of energy Upstate, the State of New York authorized the construction of 15 nuclear power plants, to be built between 2030 and 2050.

All of New York State's existing nuclear plants would be decommissioned, and the new plants would be built in relatively low-density places. Upstate New York's continuing population decline made it the home for all fifteen plants, with two on Lake Erie, eight on Ontario, and one each on Canandaigua, Keuka, Seneca, Cayuga, and Oneida lakes. Hazardous waste would be stored and reprocessed at several under-used facilities: West Valley, the former Seneca Army Depot, and the former Griffiss Air Force Base.

The plants were built by a consortium of investors, with all of the engineering and turbine construction performed, as required by the state authorization, by General Electric in Schenectady. All workers on the plants had to have lived in New York State for the previous five years, a provision that had garnered additional support for the plan. The temporary boost from the jobs created in building the plant had a mild effect on the Upstate economy, though Schenectady in particular revived substantially.

Protests against the plan were muted by the pain of $1.50/kilowatt-hour (kWh) energy in an area with an aging population, though the plants in the Finger Lakes especially were slowed by efforts to halt or block construction.

In March 2050, the last of the plants, Milliken Station II on Cayuga Lake, opened for business. Electrical rates had fallen back to 89¢ per kWh over the previous ten years as new plants came on line. Despite numerous construction quality scandals and general concerns about the level of regulation the plants received, there has not been a serious accident at any of the plants yet.


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This page contains a single entry by Simon St.Laurent published on September 23, 2007 8:24 PM.

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