The two operating units at the Indian Point nuclear power plant which powered New York for more than 40 years will be closed earlier than planned due to safety concerns.

Entergy said in a statement: "The shutdown will complete Entergy's exit from its merchant power business because of sustained low wholesale energy prices.”

Under the settlement agreement, Entergy will shut down the Indian Point Unit 2 by 30 April 2020 and Unit 3 by 30 April 2021.

In exchange, the New York State will drop legal challenges against the company and support renewal of the operating licenses for Indian Point project, Entergy said.

New York Governor Cuomo said: “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.

“This administration has been aggressively pursuing and incentivizing the development of clean, reliable energy, and the state is fully prepared to replace the power generated by the plant at a negligible cost? to ratepayers."

Entergy said it will close the facility due to sustained low current and projected wholesale energy prices that resulted in lower revenues, as well as increased operating costs.

Entergy Wholesale Commodities president Bill Mohl said: "Record low gas prices, due primarily to supply from the Marcellus Shale formation, have driven down power prices by about 45%, or by about $36 per megawatt-hour, over the last ten years, to a record low of $28 per megawatt-hour.

“A $10 per megawatt-hour drop in power prices reduces annual revenues by approximately $160m for nuclear power plants such as Indian Point."

As part of the deal, an environmental nonprofit group The Riverkeeper will alos withdraw its legal challenges against Entergy.

Image: Entergy to close Indian Point nuclear plant in New York, US in 2020-2021. Photo: courtesy of Entergy Corporation.