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Analyst: Indian Point Key to Economy

Lower Hudson Valley leaders discuss the consequences of closing the nuclear plant.

Aside from transforming the way the Lower Hudson Valley harnesses energy, how would shuttering in Buchanan affect the region?

The query was center-stage at a forum at the Rye Brook Hilton Friday morning, where Westchester business leaders and energy and environmental professionals gathered to discuss the looming chance of closing down the nuclear center. Two of the reactors' licenses expire in 2014 and 2016, respectively, after 40 years.

And though much of the discussion was subjective, there was one cardinal take-away—closing the plant would inexorably impact the economy on several levels.

The event featured a panel of speakers from various sectors, and a capstone talk by Dr. Howard Axelrod, a utility planner and economist with experience in designing power plants.

"There's one certainty—if the plant closes, there will be immediate impact of about 1,400 jobs lost, mostly in Westchester," Axelrod said.

The power plant provides millions of dollars in wages annually to its workers, many of them local, Axelrod noted. The plant also pays about $75 million in taxes yearly, and donates approximately $2 million dollars to charity.

Further, the residual consequences out those jobs drying up would likely eliminate another 1,200 local positions, Axelrod added. "When that plant closes, those jobs will be gone," he added, likening it to the closure of an automobile factory.

Closing the nuclear power plant would also spike local electricity prices, according to Axlerod—and with people spending more money on utility bills and less on local businesses, the economy would slow, he said.

Axelrod's assessment clashes with the findings of state officials, who in February said .

Axelrod also discussed hypothetical alternatives, noting some 9,000 windmills would be needed to match Indian Point's energy output.

"We're talking realism versus conceptualism," he said.

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For more of Patch's coverage of Indian Point, click here.

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