Entergy (ETR) - Get Report will shut down the Indian Point Energy Center - a nuclear power plant that sits on the Hudson River in New York - by April 2021, the company announced Monday.

Shares of the electricity provider fell 2.17% to $71.63 in afternoon trading.

The Indian Point facility has become a political flashpoint of sorts in recent years. Its location just 45 miles north of Manhattan was a constant cause of concern for environmentalists, who feared the impact a disaster at the plant would have on the densely populated New York metropolitan area.

Governor Andrew Cuomo was no fan of the plant and has repeatedly called for its closure. The relicensing process for the facility with the federal government's Nuclear Regulatory Commission had also slowed to a crawl thanks to a decade's worth of challenges from New York state regulators.

"For 15 years, I have been deeply concerned by the continuing safety violations at Indian Point, especially given its location in the largest and most densely populated metropolitan region in the country," Cuomo said in a statement. "I am proud to have secured this agreement with Entergy to responsibly close the facility 14 years ahead of schedule to protect the safety of all New Yorkers."

A February incident in which radioactive tritium leaked into the plant's groundwater was the latest unsettling event at the site. It was also briefly shut down in May 2015 after a transformer fire caused 3000 gallons of oil to spill into the Hudson.

"This is welcome news for the nearly 20 million people living within 50 miles of the troubled Indian Point nuclear plant," Natural Resources Defense Council Director of Energy and Transportation Kit Kennedy said of the plant's closure in a statement. "NRDC has long opposed relicensing its two reactors because of Indian Point's history of operational, safety and environmental problems, as well as the grave risk of a nuclear accident so close to the nation's largest city."

Entergy President of Wholesale Commodities Bill Mohl insisted that the decision to close the plant was one based on economic factors but admitted that the state's persistent opposition in the relicensing process played a role in Indian Point's untenable cost structure.

"Indian Point is not on its own," Mohl said at a press conference. "We see commodity prices continue to decrease and operational costs continue to increase."

The collapse of natural gas prices has placed nuclear facilities all over the country into economic distress. Exelon (EXC) - Get Report successfully petitioned New York for about $500 million in annual subsidies in August 2016 to keep the lights on at two plants in the state it already owns and a third that it is in the process of buying from Entergy.

Mohl said that Indian Point was going to become a money-loser regardless of the resolution it reached with the state, but added that Entergy had spent nearly $200 million in the relicensing process.

"The decision to shut down the plant was ours and ours alone and was due to economics," he said.

Image placeholder title

ETR

data by

YCharts