As the Rockland/Westchester Journal News reported on April 3rd, the Indian Point nuclear power plant shut down unexpectedly for more than two weeks in March. Luckily, natural gas was there to save the day without anyone noticing.
As of 2015, New York City drew about half of its electricity from natural gas, about a third from nuclear power. The rest comes from renewable sources like the Niagara River hydroelectric dam or wind farms, with a very small contribution from coal or diesel. New York has dozens of independent power plants that deliver power to the grid, and a surprising amount sit idle most of the time. About 16 “peaker” plants, many natural gas plants sitting on barges, only fire up on the hottest days of the year when the grid needs extra power for all the city’s air conditioners.
So when Indian Point powered down due to a malfunction in one reactor and scheduled spring maintenance in the other, there was plenty of natural gas capacity on hand. About 3,581 megawatts came from natural gas on March 18 during the shutdown, when only 2,837 was used before the shutdown. That is an extra 750 megawatts or so per day brought on to compensate for the issues at Indian Point.
The Indian Point power plant is already operating beyond it initial expected lifespan, and the state is planning for a time when nuclear is no longer available. Many elected officials, like New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, want to see the city and state move towards replacing Indian Point with renewable energy. Most experts agree, however, that natural gas is going to be an important part of the mix far into the future, as gas plants can rapidly switch on when needed to power the city that never sleeps.
A lot of the gas powering New York comes from Pennsylvania, and companies like Cimmaron Land are helping producers acquire the interest needed to produce all this gas now and into the future. If you are interested, just give us a call at (412) 212-7517.