Since coming on line in 1972, Vermont Yankee has produced more than 150 million megawatt hours of electricity and has displaced more than 69 million tons of carbon dioxide emissions.
Nuclear power plants like Vermont Yankee provide large amounts of 24/7 base load electricity without burning fossil fuels. They emit virtually no greenhouse gases. On a per-kilowatt comparison with renewable energy sources like wind and solar, the lifetime “carbon footprint” of a nuclear generating plant is about the same as wind and much smaller than solar.
The United States has 104 nuclear reactors in 31 states that produce about 20% of our country’s electricity. According to the Nuclear Energy Institute, in 2011, the US nuclear industry prevented more than 613 million tons of carbon dioxide from being released into the atmosphere.
The electric power industry in the United States is responsible for releasing 2.3 billion tons of carbon dioxide into our air every year. Coal-fired power plants are the source of most of these emissions. If all US nuclear reactors were closed they would be replaced by either coal or natural gas generating units, releasing an additional 623 million tons of carbon dioxide each year.
Climate change is a cause for concern, but removing nuclear power from our energy mix would do nothing to protect our environment.
NH Resident, VY employee, VT Taxpayer
VY contributes to Vermont’s high air quality
Vermont is among the highest-ranked states in the country for air quality, something Vermonters are proud of. The operation of Vermont Yankee has played a major role in this accomplishment, displacing more than 69 million metric tons of carbon dioxide from entering our air since it came online in 1972.
After Tropical Storm Irene hit Vermont last year, Governor Shumlin was quoted as saying that we need to get off fossil fuels as soon as we know how (Democracy Now, Aug. 29, 2011). Vermont’s legislature continues to ignore the clean energy produced by Vermont Yankee and refuses to include it into Vermont’s energy future. These politically-driven efforts will slow our withdrawal from fossil fuels even more.
The Rutland Herald recently reported that the amount of US electricity generated from coal plants is forecast to drop this year, and fall even further by the end of this decade (“Coal use falling fast; utilities switching to gas,” June 13). The gap from lowering our usage of coal will be filled by natural gas, but natural gas is a fossil fuel and will not solve climate change.
As the country phases out coal we will need more affordable, reliable, electricity than ever. Nuclear is all of these things, plus clean. If Governor Shumlin’s rhetoric about global warming is sincere and Vermont’s clean air is a priority in the governing of our state, then our legislature would recognize Vermont Yankee as a necessary contributor to the health of Vermont and the wellbeing of Vermonters.
The Vermont Electric Cooperative issued a news release asking its customers to conserve energy last Monday and Tuesday (July 16 and 17) to alleviate strain on the electric grid. If we are being asked to forego normal activities because we don’t have enough electricity now, we’ll have even less electricity if Vermont Yankee were closed.
VY and Vermont’s need for a reliable electrical infrastructure
VEC suggests that during this heat wave customers turn off unnecessary lights, delay the use of appliances until after 6 p.m. and raise their air conditioner temperature by 3 degrees. To support these actions the company offers a “Beat the Peak” program where they will provide alerts to customers of when to reduce their electricity use.
While I try to regularly conserve electricity, I don’t think I should organize my life around electric supply. We need an electrical infrastructure which provides sufficient capacity at all times, and allows the electric companies to meet their customers’ needs.
In past years Vermont Yankee provided approximately one-third of all the electricity consumed in Vermont and sold its remaining electricity to the New England Electric Grid. Now, all of Vermont Yankee’s electricity is being sold to the Grid. Grid power is then purchased by electric companies and distributed to their customers.
For more than forty years Vermont Yankee has provided reliable electricity without producing greenhouse gases. This electricity is available 24 hours per day, every day, no matter the weather conditions. The plant provides over 600 jobs for area residents and pays millions of dollars in state and local taxes.
Vermont Yankee is necessary to meet the electric needs of Vermont, Massachusetts and New Hampshire. There is no reason to close Vermont Yankee.
Jaffrey, New Hampshire
Tuesday July 31: The Milton Friedman Centennial Program: Going Independent in Vermont Burlington Sheraton Conference Center University Amphitheatre 7:00 PM. Click here for more details.
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