If Governor Cuomo closes Indian Point Nuclear Power Plant, as he promised, and as he should, say on Christmas Eve 2015, the supply of power to New York City will still be greater than the highest possible (and highly unlikely) projected demand for peak loads for the next twenty-five years.
I went to the meeting at the Churchtown Firehouse today expecting Gidon Eshel to make a good case against Governor Cuomo’s self-described “Energy Highway” of monster power lines, and he did. In fact, he made a great case. But I wasn’t expecting to have such a good time.
Dr. Eshel, Bard College professor, environmental physicist, and owner of a home in Milan, a thousand feet from an existing power line, spent over 350 hours of his own time making detailed and painstaking calculations, using the most conservative possible assumptions, and wrote a report that he doesn’t expect anyone (except maybe Ian Nitschke, who is also a physicist) to read. Which is why he “watered it down” (his words), to make it clear, fascinating, conclusive, and dead funny. But he was dead serious about our rights as “citizens, residents and taxpayers.”
Eshel’s work, the only transparent assessment of actual need, has already been vetted and supported by other, independent scientists, but before he grabbed hold of the stage, Ian Solomon, leader of Farmers and Families for Claverack, thanked the roughly two hundred farmers, families, neighbors, officials and candidates (Didi Barrett, Brian Howard, Pete Lopez, and especially the Claverack Town Board, which has been “out front on this issue” from the start) for our “sense of community and justice.” And Will Yandik, of Farmers and Families for Livingston, Livingston Town Councilman, and fourth generation family farmer, cited the 2100+ public comments received (and ignored) by the Public Service Commission, reminded us of why we were there and why we are here in the Hudson Valley, and gave Eshel an introduction worthy of his CV.
The funny bits were Eshel’s asides, but believe me, humor doesn’t hurt when you’re trying to digest facts and figures on population density, climate change, and energy consumption, except when you’re also trying to take photos and can’t keep the camera still because you’re laughing out loud.
So, again, with NO MONSTER POWER LINES, and no Indian Point, NYC will have more supply than demand for power for the next twenty-five years. In fact, the demand gets lower as time goes on, but supply remains the same.
That’s incredibly good news, and you really need to know, but the reasons why are interesting, even for science-phobes, so here you go:
Fact: The need for transmission of power to NYC was simply assumed by the Public Service Commission, which has no intention of studying the issue until much later in the process.
Fact: Projects in the (metaphorical!) pipeline, already planned and approved would provide 10,000 megawatts of power. (For a little perspective, Indian Point Nuclear Power Station generates 2,000 MW.)
Fact: The rise in population in NYC is plateauing now and is predicted to taper off (by the Cornell Center for Applied Demographics.)
Fact: The rise in energy consumption in NYC started slowing in 2005, and is now declining.
Fact: Young adults use more electricity than the middle-aged, presumably because they have young children. But NYC isn’t getting any younger. Just the opposite.
Fact: The real problem in NYC is overuse of inefficient air conditioners on hot afternoons. And yes, the hot afternoons are getting hotter, but once the temperature hits 90 degrees, we all hit the on button anyway, and the difference between 90 and 100 makes no difference.
Fact: Monster power lines from one centralized power source make the grid more vulnerable to failure or attack, and consequent massive loss of power.
Fact: The PSC calls the plan green, because it uses wind power. But the wind power it uses is north of Albany, and the further power has to travel, the less efficient it becomes. Not to mention that a world-class source of wind power exists off the coast of Long Island. It’s not only not green, it’s dumb. (One of the biggest laughs: “If you want to rob a bank, you go to a bank.”)
Fact: Energy banks surround our country. Within 150 to 200 miles of the Atlantic and Pacific coasts, there is enough wind power to supply the entire country.
As Eshel would say: End of story. And now, as Milan and Livingston attorney, and former engineer and industry insider Dan Duthie said, we just need to direct the governor to the off-ramp on the energy highway.
Dr. Gidon Eshel
Gidon Eshel and Laila Eshel
(See above link to the Hudson Valley Smart Energy Coalition and http://www.farmersandfamiliesforlivingston.com, and http://www.facebook.com/farmersandfamiliesforclaverack to find out how you can help.)