Skip to main content

Replacing the Foot You Shot Yourself In

Vermont is bound and determined to close the Vermont Yankee nuclear energy facility over a leakage of tritium last year that harmed no one - at all. While the leak should not have occurred, the cause of it was located and sealed and no one inside or outside the plant was harmed by it. More about tritium here

But the Vermont legislature saw it as an opportunity to close the plant, an action that Vermont  Yankee's owner, Entergy, has filed suit over. The NRC has issued a license allowing the facility to operate an additional 20 years and Entergy would like to do that. We'll see if Entergy's suit prevails - I'm not a lawyer and have no special intelligence on it. You can read more about the suit here.

So let's leave that all on the side of the road and focus on the possibility of Vermont Yankee closing. Care to guess how much of Vermont's electricity is generated by nuclear energy?

72 percent
. Let that sink in - clearly, the Vermont legislature hasn't - and it's largely from Vermont Yankee, the only nuclear facility in the state. There are no coal plants and only a little natural gas (0.1%) - a little renewable energy (5 percent). Hydro (also renewable, of course) is number 2 at 22 percent.
Unwilling to gamble on Vermont Yankee, Green Mountain Power Corp. is looking instead to a nuclear plant in neighboring New Hampshire for power.The company has reached a 23-year power purchase deal to get electricity from Seabrook nuclear plant in Seabrook, N.H., officials said Tuesday.
That's called irony. Now, in fairness, Green Mountain is looking elsewhere, too, so this isn't a one-to-one swap:
The agreement, combined with a recently approved power pact with Hydro Quebec and plans to build a wind project in Lowell, helps Green Mountain Power make good on its promise of providing reliable, low-cost and low-carbon power, she said.
You'll notice that Quebec and Massachusetts benefit, but not Vermont. If the facility closes, Vermont loses about 300 jobs there - and more around the facility - and the state taxes from the facility - with no replacement. That's bad, however you look at it.

But we were intrigued by comments gathered by reporter John Curran:
Representatives of two of the company's biggest customers -- IBM in Essex Junction and Green Mountain Coffee Roasters, in Waterbury -- welcome the power deal, saying the cost and low-carbon footprint of nuclear power were appealing.
"Appealing" - we'll take it. But not everyone is happy.
"We'd prefer to see our state's utilities moving away from all forms of dirty and unreliable power, including nuclear energy," said James Moore, clean energy program director for Vermont Public Interest Research Group.

Well, you've always got the other foot.

Comments

Meredith Angwin said…
Vermont Yankee supplies about 200 MW of power to Vermont. Green Mountain Power made a deal for 15 to 60 MW from Seabrook. It's not exactly a replacement. To say nothing of the 400 MW of power that VY sends to neighboring states.
SteveK9 said…
Wonder what the 'wind power' from Lowell will cost. Assuming it gets built.

By the way, I live in NH so to Green Mountain Power 'you're welcome'. I wish we would build Seabrook 2 (probably won't happen soon) then we could sell more power to MA and VT.
Will Davis said…
Last time I made a post about Vermont Yankee on Atomic Power Review, MAN, did I get some vitriolic comments and e-mails! Those anti-nuke activists are whackos. They claim that Vermont's whole essence is its clean living and its natural tourist-friendly environment, so VY must go. Great; I hope that all the extra coal smoke caused by the increased demand that'll be supplied elsewhere causes acid rain all over Vermont.
Anonymous said…
Funny you left out that the seabrook deal is cheaper than vy.

And that the legislature is acting on behalf of the people of vermont who are done with entergy, not necessarily nuclear power.

People say it's just politics driving this decision. Of course it is, that is how the public is represented, through political action. If the projet of vermont want vy anf entergy out of their state, that's their prerogative.
Meredith Angwin said…
I have two blog posts about this deal, one with geeky comparisons of costs and so forth
http://yesvy.blogspot.com/2011/05/nimby-and-nukes-vermont-utility-makes.html
and one that is mostly opinion.
http://yesvy.blogspot.com/2011/05/north-of-border-east-of-border-nuclear.html
I am aware that it is blatant self-promotion to link to my own blog in a comment on someone else's blog, but I think that the first post has some interesting numbers that people might like to see.
Also, Will:.
Yes indeed. Coal smoke. While Vermont is in the ISO NE grid, the grids are interconnected, and the entire western border of Vermont is New York State. So, without VY, it is quite reasonable that we will draw more power from New York State, because it is close. Just for fun, SourceWatch on coal plants shows there are 48 coal plants in New York, though I admit that most of them are more southerly than the Vermont border. Not all, but most
http://www.sourcewatch.org/index.php?title=Category:Existing_coal_plants_in_New_York
Joffan said…
Anon
If the projet of Vermont want VY and Entergy out of their state, that's their prerogative.

Except that the rule of law is still in force, and contracts undertaken cannot be broken arbitrarily. Business operates under the contract of stable and reality-based regulation, not the whims of politicians. If an enforcement action is not supported by evidence, it can and should be challenged in the courts.

Meanwhile, Shumlin tells us "Your word is your bond in Vermont" but then does all he can to avoid being bound by the contract agreed with Entergy. Refer to Meredith's blog for more on that.

Popular posts from this blog

How Nanomaterials Can Make Nuclear Reactors Safer and More Efficient

The following is a guest post from Matt Wald, senior communications advisor at NEI. Follow Matt on Twitter at @MattLWald.

From the batteries in our cell phones to the clothes on our backs, "nanomaterials" that are designed molecule by molecule are working their way into our economy and our lives. Now there’s some promising work on new materials for nuclear reactors.

Reactors are a tough environment. The sub atomic particles that sustain the chain reaction, neutrons, are great for splitting additional uranium atoms, but not all of them hit a uranium atom; some of them end up in various metal components of the reactor. The metal is usually a crystalline structure, meaning it is as orderly as a ladder or a sheet of graph paper, but the neutrons rearrange the atoms, leaving some infinitesimal voids in the structure and some areas of extra density. The components literally grow, getting longer and thicker. The phenomenon is well understood and designers compensate for it with a …

Why America Needs the MOX Facility

If Isaiah had been a nuclear engineer, he’d have loved this project. And the Trump Administration should too, despite the proposal to eliminate it in the FY 2018 budget.

The project is a massive factory near Aiken, S.C., that will take plutonium from the government’s arsenal and turn it into fuel for civilian power reactors. The plutonium, made by the United States during the Cold War in a competition with the Soviet Union, is now surplus, and the United States and the Russian Federation jointly agreed to reduce their stocks, to reduce the chance of its use in weapons. Over two thousand construction workers, technicians and engineers are at work to enable the transformation.

Carrying Isaiah’s “swords into plowshares” vision into the nuclear field did not originate with plutonium. In 1993, the United States and Russia began a 20-year program to take weapons-grade uranium out of the Russian inventory, dilute it to levels appropriate for civilian power plants, and then use it to produce…

Nuclear Is a Long-Term Investment for Ohio that Will Pay Big

With 50 different state legislative calendars, more than half of them adjourn by June, and those still in session throughout the year usually take a recess in the summer. So springtime is prime time for state legislative activity. In the next few weeks, legislatures are hosting hearings and calling for votes on bills that have been battered back and forth in the capital halls.

On Tuesday, The Ohio Public Utilities Committee hosted its third round of hearings on the Zero Emissions Nuclear Resources Program, House Bill 178, and NEI’s Maria Korsnick testified before a jam-packed room of legislators.


Washingtonians parachuting into state debates can be a tricky platform, but in this case, Maria’s remarks provided national perspective that put the Ohio conundrum into context. At the heart of this debate is the impact nuclear plants have on local jobs and the local economy, and that nuclear assets should be viewed as “long-term investments” for the state. Of course, clean air and electrons …