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WHITE PLAINS, NY-Officials of Entergy Corp., the owner of the Indian Point nuclear power plants on the Hudson River shoreline in Buchanan, NY, have lashed out at a proposal by Westchester County executive Andrew Spano. Spano’s scheme calls for the county to undertake a study to determine how it could take over the plants and convert them into gas producing facilities.

On Nov. 14, the day before he released his proposed county budget that called for a 28.6% increase in property taxes and a one-cent hike in the county sales tax, Spano announced that the county intends to commission a $500,000 study of the possible takeover of Indian Point.

Spano said the county will issue RFPs for the study and that the county intends to ask New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg if the city wishes to participate in it Among the issues to be addressed are the cost of a takeover of Indian Point either by purchase or condemnation; the replacement cost of the nuclear reactors with gas-fired generators that would supply “sufficient capacity;” how a takeover could be accomplished and the effect on energy rates and the local tax base.

In addition, the study would investigate if a utility-agency takeover of some or all of Con Edison’s distribution system would be beneficial to county ratepayers. “While there has been a lot of rhetoric about closing Indian Point, only Entergy or the Nuclear Regulatory Commission can make that decision,” said Spano. “However, if we buy the facility or, if needed, condemn it and convert it, we don’t need the company or the NRC. We can be masters of our own fate.”

James X. Steets, regional manager, external communications for Entergy Nuclear Northeast, the owner of the Indian Point 2 and 3 facilities, charged that the Spano takeover proposal was politically-motivated and did not exhibit sound policy making. “It was clearly a political decision, and probably not a good one,” Steets stated. “It will be tough for Westchester residents to absorb the additional tax burden already coming their way and then pay additional taxes on top of that and then pay more for their electricity on top of it.” Entergy paid more than $1 billion to acquire the Indian Point 2 and 3 nuclear power plants last year.

Spano said that his call for a study of a possible Indian Point takeover was prompted by the release of two preliminary energy reports conducted by energy consulting firm Sargent and Lundy of Chicago. The studies, entitled the “Distribution Feasibility Study” and the “Power Plant Cost Study,” were done in August and September. They dealt broadly with the questions of whether or not alternate energy sources could be built in the county and if a take over of all or part of Con Edison’s distribution system could control or reduce electric costs.

He noted that the idea of acquiring the old Con Edison energy system was first raised nearly 30 years ago. The proposal was narrowly defeated in a public referendum held in the late 1970s.

“Life has changed since Sept. 11,” Spano said. “While we are still concerned about unfair energy costs, the focus now is on nuclear power plant safety in this age of terrorism.”

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