Why Vermont Yankee matters to Vermont
Editor of the Reformer:
Less than five years ago, three-quarters of all electricity produced in Vermont came from Vermont Yankee nuclear power plant in Vernon. But of course, that's all water over the dam now. The plant is closed, and Vermont and the rest of New England must muddle along without Vermont Yankee's low-carbon, low-cost power. However, even a closed Vermont Yankee still has much to offer.
It still employs more than 100 people, still pays taxes, still makes substantial payments to the State of Vermont per the Master Settlement Agreement, including significant contributions to Vermont's renewable power future, and is still is a generous local philanthropist. Most recently, on August 10 Vermont Digger reported Vermont Yankee will give $600,000 over two years to bolster local emergency services. The same day, a story about local first responders receiving tens of thousands of dollars of free, lifesaving Vermont Yankee equipment also appeared in Vermont Digger. In general, Vermont Yankee's consistent "high road" of choosing public engagement, transparency and generosity when self-interest could dictate otherwise is a story that frankly needs to be told.
Perhaps most important to Vermont's future, Vermont Yankee is the site of a $1.2 billion dollar project — the actual decommissioning of the plant, some decades hence — that will infuse cash into the local and state economy and deliver a restored site with significant, unique industrial development opportunities. In short, Vermont Yankee still offers tremendous value to 21st century Vermont.
Vermont is faced with many important energy issues worthy of public education and discussion: hydropower options, cyberattacks on the power grid, the renewable energy siting controversy, a pending rate increase, to cite just a few. But Vermont Yankee still matters, too — decisions made now will have a powerful impact on the environment, economy, and quality of life in the near future and in the decades to come.
Guy Page, Communications Director, Vermont Energy Partnership, Aug. 19