Letters 02 – 01 – 2012

Wind and solar not right for Vermont 

The letter from former NRC Chairman Nils Diaz states, “The NRC’s statutory authority does not extend to regulating the reliability of electrical generation.”

“It goes on to state that “there is some overlap” in the issues involving safety and reliability.”

A further grasping at straws by high-paid lawyers while wasting time and scarce state funds and while other problems fester, such as those of many people in flood-prone mobile homes still not having been sufficiently supplied with new housing.

Here is a reliability story:

Vermont Yankee runs for about 500 days near rated output (about 4,800 GWh/yr) to produce steady, high-dispatch-value, low-cost (about 5.5c/kWh), near CO2-free, 24/7/365 energy, regardless of the weather, including Irene-type events; then it shuts down for about 4 weeks for refueling and major maintenance with more than 1,000 outside contractor personnel on the site; then it runs again for 500 days near rated output.

This results in a capacity factor of about 0.92, one of the highest in the US; the US nuclear sector has the highest capacity factor, 0.90 of all nations.

Here is an unreliability story:

As I write this, it is snowing, solar panels are covered, and there is no wind.

Please explain: Where would the energy come from to operate my computer, or a Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center, if it were not for reliable, conventional plants producing steady energy 24/7/365?

What Vermont does with regard to global warming/climate change is so miniscule as to be unmeasurable.

Even if all of the US instantly disappeared, its “CO2 hole” would be filled by other nations in about 5 years, at current rates of CO2 increase.

Vermont would be much better served, if it concentrated all its efforts on reducing energy consumption/$ of state gross product. Judging by the icicles hanging from roofs of old and newer houses all over the state, energy efficiency has not yet been started in Vermont.

– Willem Post



Solar Panel Wing at Yucca Storage Facility?

Vermont Yankee is often criticized for “not having a solution” for its spent fuel. Actually, the nuclear industry has invested heavily in two solutions, only to be stymied by the anti-nuclear lobby. First, billions of dollars have been spent to develop a nuclear waste repository in Nevada. For existing spent fuel that won’t just “go away” if every power plant were to close tomorrow, Yucca is the best, safest place.

Second, the U.S. could successfully reprocess “spent” fuel, which still contains up to 90% of its original energy. Like a used copper pipe, it can be “repurposed” for everyone’s benefit, as happens in other countries.

Other energy sources also face serious, although far less publicized, waste problems. Every day coal and gas dump tons of “spent fuel” directly into the atmosphere, still loaded with fine particulates and carcinogens. According to the American Cancer Society these emissions are responsible for thousands of deaths.

Solar modules contain hazardous materials such as silicon tetrachloride, cadmium, selenium and sulfur hexafluoride, a potent greenhouse gas. Indium, in solar panels, has been linked to pulmonary disease in flat-screen TV recycling facilities. The renewable industry knows disposal is a problem but says nothing. What is surprising is that local “green” groups have kept silent, too.

Maybe Yucca could open a “solar panel wing” of its storage facility? If solar panels become as commonplace as its backers hope, a solution to a huge waste storage problem will be needed, lest our children suffer the consequences.

– Greg Brede



Notes & Events

Wed. Feb 1st: Businesses and interested parties are asked to testify to a joint committee meeting on health care from 4:30 pm until 7:00 pm at the Statehouse regarding Health Care Bill H-559. If you would be interested in letting the Legislative Health Care Committee and Senate Health and Welfare Committee know your thoughts on the Health Care bill please let me know or just show up on Feb. 1 to room 11 of the State House.

Sat. February 4th: The Green Mountain Patriots meet at the Grange Hall in Essex (116 center rd, next to Frank’s motorcycles by the intersection of rt. 15 and 128).

Wed. February 8th: The Central Vermont Tea Party meets at the Sharon Elementary School at 7 pm. Guest speakers, policy discussions, discussion of GOP presidential candidates. All welcome.

Sat. February 18th: “Green Mountain Care: what every Vermonter should know” will be presented at 10 am at the Wells Village School on Route 30.” The event is free and the general public is encouraged to attend this event regarding the impacts of Vermont’s health care law, Act 48. The educational event is hosted by the Wells Republican Committee. Guest speakers for the event will be State Senator Randy Brock, Rutland area physician Daniel McCauliffe, MD, and Rutland Treasurer Wendy Wilton.


We look forward to your feedback, tips, and comments. Please send them to rob@truenorthradio.com.