Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Closing Vermont Yankee and All That It Does Not Produce – Greenhouse Gases

Vermont_Yankee3 What becomes a nuclear facility most? These days, it may be its emission-free quality – its production of nothing, in other words, at least in terms of the greenhouse gases that have concerned policymakers and the public in recent years. In NEI’s third article on the closing of Vermont Yankee, we look at the implications of closing not only the source of 72.3 percent of Vermont’s electricity, but the implications of losing all that nothing – those gases that it doesn’t produce.

The loss of 604 megawatts of carbon-free generation will hinder efforts to reduce emissions in the region. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s draft plan to reduce carbon dioxide emissions from power plants includes an initial estimate of how much each state will need to reduce emissions by 2030.  The proposed reduction targets show the difference that energy mix makes from state to state.
And not only does it impact the region’s proposed EPA target, but it could make a mess of a more local concern, Vermont’s participation in the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative.
RGGI set a regional cap for 2014 of 91 million short tons (about 82.5 million metric tons) of carbon dioxide emissions, which will decline 2.5 percent each year from 2015 to 2020. The goal is that by 2020, carbon dioxide emissions from power plants in the member states will be half that in 2005.
And that has unfortunate implications, as a Vermont newspaper editorial explains:
“When the contracts for Vermont Yankee power expired in 2012, our utilities replaced its carbon-free generation with about a million megawatt-hours of ‘grid power’—contracts and direct purchases of electricity from the New England transmission grid. More than half of this power comes from burning fossil fuels. This has substantially increased Vermont's power-related carbon emissions, while exporting the consequences to other states.”
It’s not a good outcome. See the article for more.

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