Letters 8 – 10 – 2011

There’s no plan in place after closing VY  

For over a decade now, some Vermont politicians have been calling for the closure of the Vermont Yankee Nuclear Power Plant (VY), with the full understanding that there is nothing that could immediately replace it and it’s near zero carbon footprint.

We are told closing VY will require conservation and a switch to other green sources of electricity, such as wind and solar, which cost up to five times as much as nuclear energy. Since it takes time and money to build up these new renewable sources, the state is left with energy conservation to make up for the potential loss of VY power until new energy sources are developed.

VY supplies one-third of Vermont’s electric needs, this means the state would need to reduce its electric usage by one-third if it wants to do away with nuclear power before we have its replacements on line. In 2003 we used 6 million megawatts of electricity, by 2005 we reduced that to 5.9 million and in 2009 we reduced it again to 5.5 million megawatts. This is an 8% reduction over six years, including the recession of 2008 & 2009. To meet the goal of continuing to reduce our electric usage by one-third, we would need to reduce our power usage, state wide, by another 25% by March, 2012, which is only six months away.

We could increase our purchases of more expensive power from New Hampshire, New York, Massachusetts or Canada, but they all use a mix of conventional and nuclear power too, so what does that say about Vermont’s commitment to removing nuclear power? It sounds a lot like “not in my back yard.” Additionally what do you think the price of Hydro-Quebec’s electricity is going to do once it has no competition from VY?

It sounds good for the state to say it wants to remove nuclear power and shut down its one nuclear plant, but all of its energy plans for the past decade tell a different story. The age old adage is still true: “You can’t have your cake and eat it too.”

– Al Blakley



Make sure qualified people are overseeing our nuclear plants

According to several media reports, Federal Judge J. Garvan Murtha seems concerned that the State of Vermont is infringing on the federal government’s responsibility for nuclear safety. For years, politicians’ concerns about Vermont Yankee safety has been front page news. That is just a fact: all of the headlines about elected officials’ concern about tritium, “spent fuel on the banks of the Connecticut River,” as well as the Senate vote to stop the relicensing process, have been about nuclear safety.

Our state officials have encroached on responsibilities belonging solely to the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission. And the more I think about it, the better I feel that the NRC is the top dog in nuclear safety. It’s too important to be left to politicians, in our state or any other. The operational “reforms” they might come up with could be downright scary, being ignorant of the realities of safely operating a nuclear power plant. Peter Shumlin may be a smart man but I do not want him or his office or his appointees setting nuclear power safety guidelines. They don’t have the training or experience. Even worse would be too-friendly politicos, as might possibly happen in less anti-nuke states, such as New Hampshire.

I never want to see nuclear power overseen by any state government, whether anti-nuke or not. Their appointees would be just too inexperienced, untrained, unskilled, erratic and partisan to safely perform this vital job. Think about it – it’s just common sense.

– Linda Kirker


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One thought on “Letters 8 – 10 – 2011

  1. Hi Al,

    Thank you for sharing your thoughts. I agree: there is no plan in place for decommissioning the Vermont Yankee Nuclear Power Station. However, this power station will not remain online forever. So: the question becomes, how will we transition off of the power supplied by Entergy Corporation? Since you speak out on this issue, perhaps you will consider putting forward a proposal that addresses this important issue.

    Thank you for addressing this issue. Now, we would like to hear your plan. We need leadership. Why not step-up, since you are obviously well informed on the issue?

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