Vermont Yankee's Greatest Hits from the Public Service Board Hearing

November 27, 2012, 7:00AMANS Nuclear CafeMeredith Angwin

On November 7, an important hearing about the Vermont Yankee nuclear power plant was held before the Vermont Public Service Board. Howard Shaffer has an excellent post on this hearing at ANS Nuclear Cafe.

At that hearing, 39 people spoke in favor of Vermont Yankee. I have been collecting their statements and their pictures (as best I can), and posting them on my blog. I have 17 posts to date.

I wanted to share some of these pro-Vermont Yankee statements with ANS Nuclear Cafe readers. They were all great statements -- but, with seventeen statements, I needed to choose a subset for this post.  So, I chose excerpts from five of the statements.

Here goes!  (Drum roll. Maybe trumpets.)

The Vermont Yankee Greatest Hits! from the November 7 Vermont Public Service Board hearing held in Vernon, Vt.

Baseball and Baseload. Statement by Dick Trudell, civil engineer

"[Why did I drive 360 miles round trip] to spend a couple of minutes testifying to this board?

I'll give you an analogy.

Vermont Yankee has proved to be a dependable source of baseload power for Vermont, with approximately half of its 620 MW capacity serving the homes and businesses of Vermont, with over an 80-percent capacity factor. Now, if you had someone on your team batting .800, it is unlikely you would kick them off the team-that's just plain common sense. Some Vermonters still seem to think that with enough conservation, plus solar and wind power, we can replace Vermont Yankee's 620 baseload megawatts with a couple of rookies that are batting at best .300, require state subsidies before they could even go to the locker room to suit up, and their salaries cost more that the dependable pro you have had for years."

Buy Local and Help Your Community. Statement by Kenyon Webber, Vermont Yankee engineer

"...Third, this area should be committed to the "buy local" motto. I suppose many of you feel that because this is not some farm stand on the side of the road, it is not a local business. This business employs hundreds of local people that support the farm stands and other local businesses. We live here locally, and spend our money locally, just like any other person in this community.

So, I close with three good reasons to vote favorably for Vermont Yankee. We provide higher wage, stable careers for more than 600 people, not to mention the millions of tax dollars we provide; we are a good community partner; and, you should be buying your electricity local."

The Ability to Live in My Home. Statement by Karen Wilson, Vermont Yankee employee

"I live here in Vernon with my daughter, Heather, who happens to be an adult with developmental challenges.

My other daughter, Amanda, also lives here in Vernon with her partner, Jason, and my two granddaughters, Kali and Reis.

I moved to the area in 1971 and began raising my family here in 1980.

I worked at a local business in Brattleboro until a few years ago, when, due to the times, I found myself in a position like many and was laid off.

Thankfully, just over a year and a half ago, I was offered a job and accepted a position at Vermont Yankee.

Vermont Yankee has many programs and offers support not only to the community but to its employees.  With the support of management and my fellow employees at Vermont Yankee, I am able to take advantage of one program they offer, that is allowing me the opportunity to go back to school to complete my business degree.

Having Vermont Yankee here in Vernon, as an employer, has made it possible for Heather and me to continue to live in our home, for me to support my family, and for me to continue my education."

Phobias Should Not Determine Policy. Statement by Peter Roth, chemical engineer

"There is no rational argument to shut a facility that continues to produce safe, reliable, and low cost electricity for Vermont and the New England grid, and has demonstrated so for a long time. Electricity is not a luxury, but a vital necessity, as we know when a storm like Hurricane Sandy shuts down power for millions.

Loss of power creates a high level "Misery Index" for people, but creating a condition that raises electricity costs for marginal income folks also creates a Misery Index. We are dealing with a commodity that is essential to our lives and an option that cannot be deferred. Food, clothing, shelter, and power cannot be deferred.....

Those that fear "Nuclear Power" may suffer from the same anxiety and condition that causes fear of flying, or fear of heights, or fear of enclosed space, and no rational argument can dissuade them from their phobias. However, their fear should not be an argument that impacts the lives of more rational people."

Vermont Tourism Supported by Vermont Yankee. Statement by Heather Sheppard, employed by a major Vermont resort

"Beauty, clean air, and affordability. Vermont Yankee is a benefit to all three. Beauty, because having an operational Vermont Yankee means we are in less of a rush to clear cut our mountain ridgelines and valleys to make way for wind farms and for crisscrossing new power lines for the hodgepodge of small-scale power generation that some would have replace it. Clean air, because Vermont Yankee emits no air pollutants, unlike the coal and gas plants that will be ramped up if Vermont Yankee closes. Some environmental groups that should know better have suggested a patchwork quilt of woodburning power plants, carbon emissions and all, to replace Vermont Yankee. From an air quality point of view, this makes no sense. To me, one of Vermont Yankee's greatest environmental benefits as a power producer is that it already exists. No more trees need to be cut down, nor rocks blasted, nor tourist-drawing scenic views destroyed. There is no need for lines of slow, loud, exhaust-emitting trucks running to and from construction sites and woodchip plants."

Excerpts from five statements are linked above. Readers are encouraged to visit Yes Vermont Yankee to see more of the statements in favor of continued operation of Vermont Yankee:

Farm and Forest in Vermont, Bruce Shields

Young Workers in Windham County, Lindsay Rose

Vermont's Fair Share of the Grid, Howard Shaffer

Air Pollution and Vermont Yankee, Meredith Angwin

Avoid Carbon Dioxide, Keep Vermont Yankee, Dr. Carlos Pinkham

Vermont People work at Vermont Yankee, Patty O'Donnell

Global Warming and Vermont Yankee, Ellen Cota

Affordable Reliable Electricity, Dianne Amme

A Strong Vision for the Future of Vermont, Charles Kelly

Power, Carbon and Costs, Peter Lothes

Vital for the Region and My Family, A Teen-Ager's View, Evan Twarog

Over 600 Families, Cheryl Twarog

Thanks to Paul Bowersox of ANS for suggesting the idea for this post



Meredith Angwin is the founder of Carnot Communications, which helps firms to communicate technical matters. She specialized in mineral chemistry as a graduate student at the University of Chicago. Later, she became a project manager in the geothermal group at the Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI). Then she moved to nuclear energy, becoming a project manager in the EPRI nuclear division. She is an inventor on several patents. Angwin formerly served as a commissioner in Hartford Energy Commission, Hartford, Vt.  Angwin is a long-time member of the American Nuclear Society and coordinator of the Energy Education Project. She is a frequent contributor to the ANS Nuclear Cafe.

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