History of Indian Point Energy Center
The landscape that would become Indian Point would have numerous histories before becoming a nuclear power plant. During the late nineteenth century it was a brickyard owned by Bonner Brick Company. In the early twentieth century the site was home to the Indian Point Amusement Park.
ConEdison bought the site in October 9, 1954 with the intent to supply the energy needs of New York City’s expanding suburbs. Indian Point was near the Hudson River, the New York Central Railroad, and numerous fuel depots. While ConEdison considered atomic energy, they originally intended to make Indian Point an oil or coal burning station.
In 1955, the company approached the Atomic Energy Commission (AEC) to construct and operate a nuclear generating plant. Original estimates for construction were $55,000,000. Babcock and Wilcox would design the reactor. It was the first American reactor financed by private funding.
Construction on Unit 1, a pressurized water reactor with a supplemental oil-fired steam superheater, was started on September 13, 1955. It was intended to be the first thorium fueled reactor in the world. The reactor was licensed by the AEC and went critical at 5:42 pm on August 2, 1962. Unit 1 ceased operation in 1974 for inability to meet new Nuclear Regulator Commission standards.
The Westinghouse designed Unit 2 and Unit 3 reactors were first conceived in 1965 and construction begun in 1966. Unit 2 went critical at 2:39 pm on May 23, 1973 and Unit 3 at 6:37 pm on April 7, 1976. Each unit could generate nearly 1000 megawatts of baseline electricity load.
With mushrooming construction costs and the economic weight of the 1973 gas crisis, ConEdison was forced by Governor Hugh Carey to sell Unit 3 to the state. Under the leadership of James A. Fitzpatrick, the New York Power Authority assumed full control of Unit 3. From 1973 until 2001, a fence separated the ConEd Unit 1 and 2 reactors from NYPA’s Unit 3 reactor. Although similarly designed, they would part ways in procedures and systems. Their workforces were separate and rarely interacted during that time. At their peak each company had nearly 1300 employees on site respectively.
In the late 1990s both ConEdison and NYPA were considering the benefits of energy deregulation by parting ways with their generating stations. In 2001, Unit 2 and 3 were sold to Entergy, Inc. a power company based in Louisiana and Mississippi. Entergy would also purchase many other nuclear plants throughout the Northeast including Vermont Yankee, Pilgrim Nuclear Power Station, and James A. Fitzpatrick. The company was tasked with reassessing security procedures in the wake of the 9-11 terrorist attacks and creating uniform operations policy for a fleet of nuclear stations that had been previously owned by local power companies.
During the 2000s, both Unit 2 and Unit 3 drastically lowered their outage times for plant refueling from over nine months to six weeks. They also increased their efficiency to over 90%.
In 2017 it was announced that Indian Point Energy Center would begin the process of decommissioning. In April 2020, Unit 2 ceased operation and was defueled. Unit 3 will cease operation in April 2021. The workforce will either retire, seek out other industries, or travel to Entergy’s plants in the US South.