Vermont Yankee support picking up steam

February 8, 2011, 7:00AMANS Nuclear CafeHoward Shaffer

The View from Vermont

A well-known slogan from the 1970s was "Think Globally, Act Locally." We who are supporting the Vermont Yankee (VY) nuclear power plant are "acting locally."

The plant is running a TV and press campaign to illustrate how important VY is for generating a good amount of the state's electric power. The campaign's slogan is "VY for VT," and it uses plant employees to tell its story. The campaign also highlights business owners who support the plant. Many of the businesses use large amounts of electric power-$1-million worth or more per year.

The plant also contributes to local charities, and many VY employees volunteer their time to charitable projects. In addition, some employees attend public meetings of regulatory bodies, to balance out the opponents who want to shut down the plant.

Vermont Yankee

Recently, VY managers and employees, including the site vice president and his spouse, for two weeks in a row attended selectboard meetings in their town of West Chesterfield, N.H.  They were there to oppose a petition by a new anti VY group that was seeking support for its concerns about VY's eventual decommissioning.  The real agenda behind the petition was to put pressure on the three states-Vermont, New Hampshire, and Massachusetts-in VY's emergency planning zone in order to form a tri-state Citizens Advisory Board to oversee the decommissioning. The petition was voted down. Also, managers and employees from VY who live in Keene, N.H., attended that town's city council committee meeting regarding the same petition. The result of the meeting was that the petition was sent to the city manager for review.

In addition, last week Entergy's regional vice president for External Affairs sent a letter in response to an individual who had contacted him with concerns about the plant. The letter details VY's good performance, and was made available to the public:

Vermont Yankee letter

One of VY's biggest supporters is the Vermont Energy Partnership, an organization of business members that is campaigning for reasonable electric power prices. This week, the group sent a letter to Vermont's governor, Peter Shumlin, expressing support for the plant.

In other news, the Ethan Allen Institute, a long established, independent, nonpartisan, free-market-oriented think tank, instituted an Energy Education Project (see ANS Nuclear Cafe, September 27th). Meredith Angwin, an American Nuclear Society member, is the project's director, and I am on its advisory board representing ANS's Vermont Pilot Project.

As far as my own involvement, a scheduler often arranges  speaking engagements for Meredith and me so that we can talk about the benefits of keeping VY operating. For example, one time a community access TV debate was arranged, and we were there along with our debate opponents-a state senator and the Clean Energy director from the Vermont Public Interest Research Group. Meredith and I often form a "tag team," to publicize both of our projects (the Vermont Pilot Project and the Energy Education Project). In addition to debates, we have been on talk radio, recorded TV interviews, and met with a newspaper's editorial board. Meredith's Yes Vermont Yankee blog is known in the state; at a politically sponsored Super Bowl party, Meredith had a long interview with Vermont's lieutenant governor, Phil Scott.

The Save Vermont Yankee Facebook page has many friends, and the VY plant itself has Web sites.

In addition, former state representative Patty O'Donnell of Vernon (where VY is located) is speaking throughout the state on behalf of the plant. Author Gwyneth Cravens was in Vermont (see ANS Nuclear Cafe, January 25th) on behalf of VY and nuclear power in general.

The ANS Public Information Committee sponsors the Vermont Pilot Project, which has as its objective to provide resources to ANS members to assist them in sharing a scientific perspective on nuclear energy. As noted, the Vermont Pilot Project and the Energy Education Project have been cooperating and supporting each other, meeting with plant members, and assisting all who share our objectives.

All of this effort is inspiring grassroots support and a stream of pro VY letters to state newspaper editors.

Supporters of Vermont Yankee are having an impact!


Howard Shaffer has been an ANS member for 34 years. He has contributed to ASME and ANS Standards committees, ANS commitees, national meeting staffs, and his local section, and was the 2001 ANS Congressional Fellow. He is a current member of the ANS Public Information Committee and consults in Nuclear Public Outreach. He is coordinator for the Vermot Pilot Project.

Shaffer holds a BSEE from Duke University and an MSNE from MIT. He is a regular contributor to the ANS Nuclear Cafe.

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