Proponents of nuclear power note that it is a relatively clean and reliable source of electricity, and the fact that it makes up a substantial portion of the country’s energy portfolio would make it hard to quickly replace.

Nonetheless, opponents have sought to shut down nuclear plants for years, citing safety risks, especially in the wake of the 2011 disaster at a nuclear power plant in Fukushima, Japan. But even before that meltdown, there had been a long drought in the construction of new nuclear plants in the U.S. Additionally, a glut of cheap natural gas poses a competitive threat to the ongoing viability of nuclear power.

In New York, where nuclear currently makes up 14 percent of the state’s generating capacity – and nearly a third of its electricity in 2014 – a few facilities have been at the center of debate in recent weeks. Here’s a snapshot of the six operating nuclear units at four sites across the state and what to watch for in the months ahead.

Ginna Nuclear Generating Station

(Click for More Information)

ONE UNIT
OUTPUT: 583 megawatts
LOCATION: Ontario, N.Y.
OWNER: Constellation and EDF Group
OPERATOR: Exelon Corporation
LICENSE ISSUED: 1969
LICENSE EXPIRES: 2029

Management said in early 2014 that it was considering shuttering the facility, one of the oldest in the country, spurring a review that led to a plan to keep it open for 18 months – at the expense of local ratepayers – to ensure system reliability while developing replacement power sources.

 

Nine Mile Point Nuclear Generating Station

(Click for More Information)

TWO UNITS
OUTPUT: 1,758 megawatts
LOCATION: Scriba, N.Y.
OWNER: Constellation and EDF Group
OPERATOR: Exelon Corporation
LICENSES ISSUED: 1974, 1987
LICENSES EXPIRE: 2029, 2046

Nine Mile Point has not made headlines like the other three nuclear plants in New York. However, one ratings agency has suggested that one of its units is also at risk of closure.

 

James A. Fitzpatrick Nuclear Power Plant

(Click for More Information)

ONE UNIT
OUTPUT: 838 megawatts
LOCATION: Scriba, N.Y.
OWNER: Entergy
OPERATOR: Entergy
LICENSE ISSUED: 1974
LICENSE EXPIRED: 2034

Entergy recently announced plans to close the plant, citing poor market conditions, which kicks off a state reliability review. The move comes after negotiations to keep the plant open failed, although Gov. Andrew Cuomo said his administration would do all it could to keep the plant open and save the more than 600 jobs at the facility.

 

Indian Point Energy Center

(Click for More Information)

TWO UNITS
OUTPUT: Over 2,000 megawatts
LOCATION: Buchanan, N.Y.
OWNER: Entergy
OPERATOR: Entergy
LICENSES ISSUED: 1973, 1975
LICENSE EXPIRED: 2013, 2015

Gov. Andrew Cuomo is openly opposed to federal renewal of the licenses for Indian Point, citing its proximity to New York City, and his administration has explored how to replace its generating capacity. However, reviews have found that a closure in the short term would undermine the grid’s reliability.