transmission capacity (discussed later in this chapter) to deliver it to the New York City area is available. In addition, with demand growing elsewhere and more retirements likely, current excess capacity may not be available in a few years.

Currently, at most only a few hundred megawatts could be imported to the New York City area during peak periods, and demand growth is likely to account for that in a few years (Hinkle et al., 2005; discussed in Chapter 5 of this report). Additional power could be imported during peak periods if the transmission grid was upgraded (and in nonpeak periods even without upgrades).

POTENTIAL NEW GENERATING CAPACITY

Having concluded that the existing generation and transmission system could make little contribution to replacing Indian Point, the Committee on Alternatives to Indian Point for Meeting Energy Needs turned to the question of potential new generation. The committee examined 18 potential alternative generating technologies for possible use in the Lower Hudson Valley/New York City region, including 5 natural-gas-based options, 5 coal-based options, 2 biomass options, 3 wind options, 2 solar options, and 1 advanced nuclear power plant option. Many of these technologies were determined to be unlikely to make a significant contribution to the power needs of the New York Control Area in the time frame of this study. Appendix D-1, “Cost Estimates for Electric Generation Technologies,” lists all of the technologies considered with their key cost elements, and Appendix D-2, “Zonal Energy and Seasonal Capacity,” presents data for comparisons of zonal energy and seasonal capacity, including the use of supplemental oil with gas turbines.

Technologies Considered

Potential generating technologies include natural-gas-fired units, coal-fired units, biomass-powered units, wind systems, solar-based technologies, and advanced nuclear re-actors. Table 3-2 lists the technologies considered and some of their characteristics.

Natural Gas

The use of natural gas as a relatively clean fuel for electric power generation has grown rapidly over the past 20 years as the supplies became more available from various areas of the United States and Canada compared with the period of the mid-1970s. Appendix D-3, “Energy Generated in 2003 from Natural Gas Units in Zones H Through K,” shows power generation from natural gas in the New York City area in 2003 and 2004. It also shows that replacing all of Indian Point’s power with natural gas would require about a one-third increase in the consumption of gas for electricity.

The technologies that are currently used to convert natural gas to electricity are much more efficient and reliable than earlier versions. The environmental benefits of natural gas relative to other fossil fuels are also a big advantage. Unlike coal, the combustion of natural gas emits no oxides of sulfur, and emissions of nitrogen oxides can be held to standards through stack-gas emission-control systems.

Current supplies of natural gas cannot always accommodate current, let alone increased demand for the product. The owners of gas-fired units in New York State are frequently required to power their gas-fired units with oil products during cold weather periods since the residential sector, with firm delivery service, has priority over the utility sector, which typically has interruptible service tariffs. Generators with backup fuel systems have been providing nearly 20 percent of the electric production derived from the gas turbine facilities in New York State (NYISO, 2005b). For future natural gas turbine facilities to contribute to the electric system during cold weather periods, they should have either backup fuel capability with adequate fuel inventory or firm natural gas pipeline capacity for these periods. Oil tanks could necessitate a larger site footprint, and the combustion of the oil would change the characteristics of the stack-gas emissions, which would have to be addressed. Appendix D-3 lists the oil products used in the overall production of electricity from gas turbines in the New York City area. Peak demand for electricity is higher in the summer than in the winter, and in summer, gas supplies are abundant. Therefore gas supplies are unlikely to affect reliability calculations as discussed in Chapter 5, which focus on the summer peak, but they could well become a constraint during the winter peak. In addition, the increased use of backup oil in the winter raises energy security and environmental issues.

The availability of natural gas in the general area of the Indian Point facility is a key parameter in evaluating alternative generation technologies to replace the two nuclear units. The Algonquin Pipeline system crosses the Hudson River close to the Indian Point power plant on the way to Connecticut. Algonquin’s two pipes have a combined capacity of 1.15 billion cubic feet per day (bcf/d), providing natural gas from the Gulf of Mexico into New York and on to New England. New York diverts some 0.12 bcf/d of the gas before it reaches Connecticut. A possibility exists that some of New York’s share could be combined with one or more other supplies to assist in generating about 800 MW. The current and future gas supplies would be considered interruptible, since the market environment does not compensate generators for the extra reliability from firm gas supplies or backup fuel supplies.

In addition, a new gas pipeline, the Millennium Pipeline, is currently being installed in New York State. Phase 1 of the project is expected to be complete by November 2006. The line comes from central New York and crosses the Algonquin system near the Ramapo Substation in Rockland County. This line also might supply enough gas for an additional 1,000 MW beyond commitments to customers. The Lovett Power Station site could be served by either line. The



The National Academies | 500 Fifth St. N.W. | Washington, D.C. 20001
Copyright © National Academy of Sciences. All rights reserved.
Terms of Use and Privacy Statement