Wednesday, November 16, 2005

More At Stake Than Just a Power Uprate

In Vermont, the state is in the midst of a two-day public hearing on whether or not to approve a 20% power uprate for the Vermont Yankee nuclear power plant. Opposition to the uprate is coming from the usual suspects making the same old arguments. Here the conclusion of an editorial from the Vermont Guardian:

Nuclear power makes no sense for a state like Vermont, which has emerged as one of the few places on the planet where this message is being sent. This is the home stretch --— a critical time to speak the truth about power to the powers that be.
What the Guardian doesn't want to tell you is that the uprate is desperately needed in an area of the country that has neglected building new electric generating capacity for some time. That was the conclusion of a report published recently by the New England Energy Alliance, an industry group formed with the goal of countering the sort of NIMBYism advocated by the Guardian. Here's the Hartford Courant:
"Our assessment of the region's resources indicates that we are at a critical point today," said Susan Tierney, a former U.S. Department of Energy policy official who prepared the report for the energy alliance.

"Energy shortages could be acute soon - by 2010 at the latest," she said. With energy projects taking years to permit and build, she said, "it means that policy-makers need to act aggressively now to avoid problems in the future."
Here's Vermont businessman Doug Griswold in the Burlington Free Press:
While it is no secret that consumers and businesses are bracing for high-priced fuel this winter an even more distressing question is arising: Will we have enough and will the lights stay on?

Vermont utilities have warned of possible rolling blackouts this winter. Going forward, prospects are even more distressing. Joseph Kelliher, chairman of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission recently said, "I am concerned that the situation in New England bears an uncomfortable resemblance to the situation facing California in the late 1990s."”

Gordon van Welie, President and CEO of ISO New England the non-profit operator of the regional electrical grid is similarly blunt: "Without new investment, New England could face an energy future much like California's recent past, including frequent power emergencies."
Between 1994 and 2004, American nuclear plants added the functional equivalent of 18, 1,000 megawatt power plants running at a capacity factor of 90 percent to America's electrical grid. Vermont and New England can't wait any longer.

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1 comment:

Anonymous said...

It is a telling fact that those regions that have experienced or are facing electricity shortages are the same ones that have trashed, for no good reason, nuclear plants in the recent past. California and the West Coast have thrown away perfectly good generating capacity at Rancho Seco, Trojan, and SONGS-1. They said they would "replace" the lost capacity with "renewables". We see the result of that: shortages and high prices. The "renewables" couldn't carry the load. Likewise, now the Northeast is facing shortages, or relying on imported energy (sound familiar?) from Canada. This is the home of noted anti-nuclear activists like Michael Dukakis, Mario Cuomo, Edward Markey, and Robert Kennedy Jr. The region has thrown away thousands of megawatts of capacity from Shoreham, Maine Yankee, Connecticut Yankee, and IP1. Well, you reap what you sow. These people need to realize that there are practical consequences to making foolish, short-sighted, and politically expedient decisions.