Friday, October 21, 2016

Pro-Nuclear Environmentalists March to Save Illinois Nuclear Plants: Eric Meyer Guest Post

Clinton Power Station

With Time Running Out for Illinois Nuclear Plants, Independent, Pro-Nuclear Environmentalists to March 

WHEN: Monday, October 24th, 2016, 11:00 AM
WHAT: Protest March and Rally at Invenergy and Environmental Law and Policy Center.
WHO: Pro-Nuclear Environmentalists
WHERE: Starts at W. Monroe and S. Wells St., Chicago, ending with a rally and press conference at ELPC at 12:30 (see map)
WHY: To urge passage of legislation to save Illinois nuclear plants

CHICAGO -- On Monday, October 24th at 11:00am, independent pro-nuclear environmentalists will march, rally, and sing in support of provisions in the Next Generation Energy Plan (NGEP) that would allow for continued operation of Clinton and Quad Cities Nuclear Plants.

Illinois legislators could still act in a “veto session” after the November 8 elections to save both plants as part of a package deal that includes generous subsidies for renewables and energy efficiency.

The march is being organized by the Clean Power Coalition, a new pro-nuclear environmental coalition consisting of Environmental Progress, American Nuclear Society - Young Members Group, Mothers for Nuclear, Thorium Energy Alliance, and the International Youth Nuclear Congress.

Coalition marchers will march on the headquarters of two organizations they view as hostile towards nuclear power — Invenergy and the Environmental Law and Policy Center (ELPC).

“The ELPC has accepted funding from fossil energy companies including Invenergy to lobby against nuclear,” said Alan Medsker, IL Coordinator of Environmental Progress, a pro-nuclear environmental organization, “but we won’t let them shut down these two climate change champions, Clinton and Quad Cities.”

“There are only a few regions in the world that have actually been able to stop burning fossil fuel for power — places like France, Sweden, and Ontario — and they did so with nuclear power,” said University of Illinois nuclear engineering student and ANS student president Aries Loumis,   “Illinois could be one of those places.”

If the Next Generation Energy Plan passes with the nuclear component intact, the plants will get the small subsidy necessary to remain competitive in a market flooded with cheap natural gas.  “This is just smart energy policy,” said Lenka Kollar of IYNC, “Keeping these valuable assets online is crucial for mitigating climate change and ensuring energy security for the future.”

“Abandoning these plants would lead to 2 million cars worth of pollution and over 4,000 people losing their jobs,“ added Natalie Wood, President, North American Young Generation in Nuclear.  "If we need to march to ensure fair treatment of nuclear power, we will.”

“It takes guts to defend nuclear power in this hostile political climate,” noted Brett Rampal, President of American Nuclear Society's Young Members Group. “But with all the information, I trust the legislature will do the right thing.”

About the Clean Power Coalition

The Clean Power Coalition is composed of environmental, academic, and industry organizations including Environmental Progress, Mothers for Nuclear, the International Youth Nuclear Congress, North American Young Generation of Nuclear, Thorium Energy Alliance, and American Nuclear Society Young Members Group.

Click to expand map

About Environmental Progress

Environmental Progress is an environmental research and policy organization building a movement of citizens, scientists and conservationists advocating ethical and practical energy solutions for people and nature.

To learn more visit,
 or email us at

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Vermont Yankee Decomm Fund Supports Local Schools. Guy Page Guest Post

Pellet Boiler Schematic
VY Decommissioning Fund Supports Local Schools

Next summer, money from the 2013 Vermont Yankee decommissioning settlement is scheduled to help pay for the oil-to-wood pellet furnace conversion of a Windham County school.

Flood Brook Elementary School in Londonderry will become the first full-sized public school to receive a new pellet-burning furnace with Windham Wood Heat Initiative (WWHI) assistance, a program overseen by the Windham Regional Commission, WRC planner Marion Major said in an October 7 interview.

WWHI was created with funding from the December 2013 Master Settlement Agreement (MSA) between Entergy and the State of Vermont that settled most of the parties’ disagreements and cleared the path for Vermont Yankee decommissioning. The MSA provides more than $40 million from Entergy for site restoration and renewable and economic development including $5.2 million for the Vermont Clean Energy Development Fund. This excerpt from an April, 2015 WWHI press release summarizes the program:

“The $1.6 million-program, funded by Vermont Yankee decommissioning via the Vermont Clean Energy Development Fund (CEDF), will help at least 20 municipal and school buildings convert to heating with advanced wood heating systems that use local, sustainable wood while addressing those buildings’ energy efficiency and durability needs. The program also includes public education, training for local building professionals, and fuel supply procurement.”

WWHI will pay 25% of a school’s pellet furnace installation cost and also offers planning assistance. After the oil furnace at the small Esteyville school building in Brattleboro failed in September 2015, WWHI enabled the conversion to pellet heat, thus cutting oil consumption by 1100 gallons per year, according to a March 30, 2016 report on WWHI also has financed control system upgrades to the Academy School in Brattleboro, Bellows Falls Middle School, and Leland & Gray in Townshend. Several others schools have tentative conversion agreements that are contingent on securing voter support. But there has not yet been an oil-to-pellet furnace conversion at a full-size, traditional public school – Flood Brook is scheduled to be the first.

The unexpectedly low cost of heating oil has been a challenge to the speedy acceptance of wood pellet conversion, Ms. Major said. The emergence of the hydro-fracturing mining process that has suppressed natural gas prices – to the detriment of the nuclear power industry – also has suppressed the price of heating oil. However, Major said many school officials remember when heating oil was very expensive and understand that fuel prices are subject to rapid change.

A recent snapshot of price comparisons, however, is hardly encouraging. The February 2016 Vermont Fuel Price Report, published by the Vermont Department of Public Service, shows fuel oil costing $16.85 compared to $22.41 for wood pellets. Until pellet fuel costs as much as or less than oil, school officials will be looking an expensive conversion that – for now – consumes a more expensive fuel, as well.

An October 5 wood boiler incident that forced the evacuation of a Lebanon, NH school is highly unlikely to occur in Vermont, Ms. Major said. According to the October 6 Valley News daily newspaper, stack emissions from the Lebanon Middle School wood pellet furnace were wind-blown into the school’s air intake system, causing smoke to circulate inside the building, the News said. The Vermont systems use standards designed to prevent such incidents, Ms. Major said.

Guy Page is communications director of the Vermont Energy Partnership (  Page is a frequent guest blogger at this blog: his most recent post is The Panama Canal and the Renewable Mandate.

Monday, September 12, 2016

The Panama Canal and the Renewable Mandate. Guest Post by Guy Page.

Vermont Could Learn Energy Lesson from de Lesseps, Panama Canal Failure

Guest post by Guy Page, Vermont Energy Partnership

Canal Excavation work under de Lesseps, 1886
It may sound odd, but when I think of Vermont’s pursuit of 90% Total Renewable Energy by 2050, I think of Ferdinand de Lesseps.

Never heard of him? He was the creator of the Suez Canal who later attempted the digging of the Panama Canal under the French flag.

Inspired by his success at Suez and a transcendent if naïve 19th century belief in the unstoppable power of Modern Progress, de Lesseps led the national effort from 1870-94 to dig a “sea level” canal across Panama. When engineers warned the canal couldn’t be finished, de Lesseps counseled faith in France, progress, and himself. After a quarter century, failure was complete: no canal, a bankrupt nation, and 25,000 dead from accident, malaria and other tropical diseases.

The goal is not the only issue

Like building a trans-isthmus canal, pursuing a future with safe, clean, affordable, reliable energy is an ambitious, worthy goal. Five years after the unveiling of Vermont’s landmark pro-renewable 2011 Clean Energy Plan, there has been much progress in solar and wind development. Yet as with de Lesseps’ canal, some basic, foreseeable problems remain unsolved:

First, overdevelopment. Instate wind and solar development can’t meet our growing megawatt/hour needs without drastically remaking our treasured landscape. To compensate for weaker output compared to nuclear, hydro and natural gas, wind and solar power require vast acreage, premium siting, and proximity to consumers. Vermont is only just starting to realize what a 90% renewable portfolio will really look like. And it is no good to say Vermont can conserve its way out of overdevelopment. The CEP clearly states Vermont will need more electricity than ever to replace the fossil fuels now energizing our cars and home furnaces. Also, more extreme forms of conservation – the virtual exclusion of the private car, air traffic, and single family home ownership – are unacceptable to the average Vermonter and thus are doomed to failure.

Second, wind and solar produce power at nature’s whim, not when we need it. This intermittent power problem makes transmission more unreliable and difficult to manage as the ratio of wind/solar power to total load grows. The purported solution – efficient battery storage – does not exist in applicable, market-ready form. As with the followers of de Lesseps, we are told that technological breakthrough is just around the corner. Skeptics are told to have more faith in progress, and to keep the workers busy and the money flowing.

SS  Ancon, first ship through Panama Canal 1914
Appropriate technology

Perhaps technology will solve these problems. After all, the Panama Canal was eventually built – but not where, when, and how de Lesseps had envisioned. U.S. President Theodore Roosevelt learned from France’s mistakes. Twenty years after the French plan failed, the United States completed a redesigned, relocated Panama Canal with sound planning and available technology.

Vermont should imitate TR and rework its energy future with a plan that doesn’t require landscape devastation or non-existent technology. Carbon reduction, the much-stated reason for a 90% renewable portfolio, can be achieved by state and regional policies embracing existing regional hydro and nuclear power with  more deliberate growth in wind and solar. In August, New York State took a bold step by including nuclear power in its clean power portfolio. Vermont and the rest of New England should consider following suit.

When (or if) the Big Energy Breakthrough happens – whether efficient storage of intermittent power, or a totally new form of power generation - we’ll be ready for it. Until then - pardon my skepticism, call me plodding and cautious, but our future is too important to leave to faith in progress.


Guy Page is communications director of the Vermont Energy Partnership ( This post has appeared or will appear at several newspapers in Vermont.  Page is a frequent guest blogger at this blog: his most recent post is Challenges for Instate Hydro.

Thursday, September 8, 2016

New England Grid Operator Meeting September 15

The purpose of the Consumer Liaison Group (CLG) is to be the voice of the electricity consumer in advising the grid operator, ISO-NE.  As the annual report states: The Consumer Liaison Group (CLG) is a forum for sharing information between ISO New England (ISO) and those who ultimately use and pay for electricity in New England.

The next meeting of the Consumer Liaison Group will be next Thursday, September 15,  in Providence RI. The topic is Energy Infrastructure.  (I am on the Coordinating Committee for the CLG.)

CLG meetings are free, but you should register in advance if you want lunch.  Here's the information.  The graphic is merely a screen shot,  I supply the relevant links below the graphic.  I hope to see some of you there.

Providence Marriott Downtown
CLG webpage

The following letter was sent  to those who have attended previous CLG meetings. (The meetings are open to the public.)  I was given permission to include the letter in this announcement.

Good Afternoon,

As a past (and hopefully future!) Consumer Liaison Group (CLG) participant, you may find this information interesting as you consider your attendance at the September 15th CLG meeting in Providence, Rhode Island.  Earlier this week, the six New England Governors joined with five Eastern Canadian Premiers for their 40th Annual Conference.  The Conference, hosted by Governor Charlie Baker of Massachusetts, convened on Sunday and Monday and a variety of regional issues were discussed, including trade, energy diversification, and combating the opioid crisis.  Much of the Governors’ and Premiers’ focus was on energy as the Conference heard from Federal Energy Regulatory Commission Chair Norman Bay, a panel on “Emerging and Innovative Technologies,” and a second panel on “The Benefits and Importance of Diverse Energy Generation.”  While the Conference produced no action items or resolutions, participants and media accounts (see below) alike report productive conversations on a variety of regional energy issues.

In September, the CLG will continue these important discussions.  The CLG will hear from Rhode Island General Treasurer Seth Magaziner and a panel on “Energy Infrastructure Projects Progressing in Rhode Island:  Challenges and Consumer Impacts Regionwide.” Panelists from Deepwater Wind, Invenergy, National Grid, and Spectra Energy will discuss a variety of generation, transmission, and pipeline projects.  The CLG meeting will be held at the Providence Marriott Downtown on September 15, 2016, beginning at noon with lunch.  All are invited to continue this discussion of regional energy issues.

To register for the meeting, please click here.

40th Conference of the New England Governors and Eastern Canadian Premiers: Agenda


The CLG Coordinating Committee

Rebecca Tepper (MA)
Chair, Consumer Liaison Group Coordinating Committee
Chief, Energy & Telecommunications Division
Massachusetts Attorney General’s Office

Meredith Angwin (VT)
Director, Energy Education Project
Ethan Allen Institute

Robert Espindola (MA)
Energy Systems Program Manager
Acushnet Company

August Fromuth (NH)
Managing Director
Freedom Energy Logistics

Douglas Gablinske (RI)
Executive Director
The Energy Council of Rhode Island

Agnes Gormley (ME)
Senior Counsel
Maine Public Advocate

Guy Page (VT)
Communications Director
Vermont Energy Partnership

Robert Rio (MA)
Senior Vice President, Government Affairs
Associated Industries of Massachusetts

Joseph Rosenthal (CT)
Principal Attorney
Connecticut Office of Consumer Counsel

Donald Sipe (ME)

Mary Smith (MA)
Associate Director of Energy Supply & Utility Administration, Harvard University

The CLG is governed by a Coordinating Committee of up to 12 members with no more than four members from any one of the New England states.  The Coordinating Committee sets the agenda for four quarterly meetings each year, which the ISO helps facilitate.  Governance of the Consumer Liaison Group is fully explained in the “CLG Purpose and Structure” document available here.

Sunday, September 4, 2016

On Pat MacDonald's TV show about Clean Energy Standards, Grid Payment

I was on Pat MacDonald's show, Vote for Vermont.  The motto of her show is "Listening Beyond the Sound Bite."  I appeared on her show last year, also.  The recent topic was "Life After Vermont Yankee, part 2."   We covered a lot of ground, and had a good time!

Our discussion included:

  • The New York Clean Energy Standards and what they mean
  • Payments on the grid, and what types of plants get subsidies
  • Effects of Vermont Yankee closing 
  • Carbon dioxide footprints
  • My upcoming book
A hearty thank-you to Pat for inviting me on her show, and for all the preparatory work she does before a show.  I hope you enjoy watching!

My opinions about payments to gas-fired plants

In  my opinion, gas-fired plants get major subsidies, but they call it "capacity payments." Nuclear plants get these also, but capacity payments are a very small portion of the income for nuclear plants.  Capacity payments are a major portion of the income for gas-fired plants.

 If gas-fired plants had to make their money selling kWh, they couldn't sell kWh as cheaply as they do.  If gas plants didn't get capacity payments, but had to make their money selling kWh, nuclear plants would be very competitive, even with currently-low gas prices.

Some back-up for my statements:
My  post on the New York Clean Energy Standards: Clean Air versus Efficiency Charges. Clean Air Wins.
My article in Nuclear Engineering International magazine, about payments on the grid: Pay for Performance and the US grid. 

Update: This video was chosen to be the Friday Matinee at the ANS Nuclear Cafe blog.  I am very pleased!  Life After Vermont Yankee, Part 2--An Interview with Meredith Angwin

Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Challenges for Instate Hydro: Guest Post by Guy Page

Wilder Dam on the Connecticut River
From a 1930s era postcard
New leadership, owners, challenges face instate hydro

Guest post by Guy Page, Vermont Energy Partnership

Congratulations are in order for Ken Nolan, the newly-appointed general manager for Vermont Public Power Supply Authority (VPPSA), the umbrella organization for 12 small town water and light departments.

Mr. Nolan is the former chief operating officer at Burlington Electric Department (BED), majority owner and operator of the McNeil station, Vermont’s largest biomass-fueled power plant. Like VPPSA’s other members, BED owns and oversees significant hydro-electric assets. During a phone discussion with Mr. Nolan several years, ago, he struck us as a candid, informed, hands-on operator of in-state power generators.

Mr. Nolan appears to be an excellent choice to provide leadership for the owners of Vermont’s small hydro generators. This position will keep him busy. Even before the August 22 announcement of Mr. Nolan’s position, August had already been a “big news” month for Vermont’s small hydro production.

Hydro dam purchases, challenges

On August 17, Vermont Digger reported that Green Mountain Power, the state’s largest utility, had purchased 14 hydro dams. They reported that GMP has bought some small-to-middling sized “run of river” dams in eastern Vermont and across New England from an Italian company named Enel. The deal totals 17 megawatts (MW), with about 157,000 MW-hours of generation, or about 3.5% of the utility’s total portfolio, GMP spokesperson Kristin Carlson told VTEP. The Digger story also noted that the purchase was made to “meet statutory requirements on the percentage of its power supplied from sources deemed renewable.”

But lest you think that hydro is suddenly the State of Vermont’s unqualified preference thanks to renewable portfolio demands, consider this lead sentence from the August 18 issue of Lamoille County’s News and Citizen: “Conflicting state policies have Morrisville Water and Light stuck between a rock and a hard place.”

In short, one state policy, with aggressive renewable power goals, is urging the dam to produce maximum power. Yet the Vermont Agency of Natural Resources “has ordered major limitations on how much water is released through the hydro dams” in the interest of water quality.

Confusing and contradictory? Yes, it’s just one more example of how the supposedly straightforward alternatives to, say, nuclear power, really aren’t so simple after all.

Another example of energy imperatives versus environmental requirements occurred in nearby Johnson, when Vermont Electric Co-Operative had to abandon plans for proposed solar projects due to their proximity to wetlands, according to the News & Citizen August 18 issue. And in Grafton and Windham, the tug-of-war between proponents and opponents of the Iberdrola wind turbine project continues, with a non-binding Australian Ballot vote set for November in Windham.

New York has embraced nuclear to meet low-carbon goals –why not VY, NE?

It’s time for Vermont to consider that nuclear power deserves a place in low-carbon energy portfolios. New York took this epic step on August 1, as Meredith Angwin reported in her estimable YesVY blog. Both Vermont and New England should consider ways to support nuclear power and consequently meet their low-carbon goals with a minimum of environmental impact.


Guest post by Guy Page, Communications Director, Vermont Energy Partnership.  This post has or will appear in several newspapers in Vermont.  Page is a frequent guest blogger at this blog.  His most recent post was Taking the High Road with Yankee Water.

This is the first time Page has called my blog "estimable." 😊

Sunday, August 28, 2016

Nuclear Blogger Carnival #324: Here at Yes Vermont Yankee

Once again, we are proud to host the Carnival of Nuclear Energy Bloggers, right here at Yes Vermont Yankee. The Carnival is a compendium of nuclear blogs that rotates from blog site to blog site, and it is always a pleasure and an honor to host it.

Looking at the Future
(The future looks upbeat for nuclear energy.)

Another WISE Summer
At Nuke Power Talk, Gail Marcus describes how engineering societies have co-sponsored an internship program in Washington, DC. This program  introduces engineering majors to public policy considerations.  Some of the past participants have found that the program profoundly influenced their career directions. This blog post describes some of the topics in this year's program.  The program has been running since 1980, and Marcus has been involved with it, one way or another, since the beginning. Though next summer may seem far away, engineering students might make a note of this internship program as a possibility for next summer.

At Neutron Bytes, Dan Yurman describes an innovative partnership.  Tiny X-Energy, a start-up, has teamed with one of America’s biggest nuclear utilities, Southern Co., to collaborate on the development and commercialization of the design of a high temperature gas-cooled reactor.

Russia's sodium lead cooled fast nuclear reactors
At Next Big Future, Brian Wang describes how Russia has reached two more milestones in its endeavor to close the nuclear fuel cycle. First, Mashinostroitelny Zavod (MSZ) - part of Russian nuclear fuel manufacturer TVEL - has completed acceptance tests of components for its ETVS-14 and ETVS-15 experimental fuel assemblies for one type of reactor. In the second milestone, the company has begun work on the "absorbent element" of the core of the another type of reactor.

Until coal, oil and natural gas are eliminated from power and transportation usage any argument about solar versus nuclear is meaningless
At Next Big Future, Brian Wang describes how coal and oil continue to dominate world energy use. Therefore, plans and arguments about replacing nuclear with solar are--not very relevant.

At Yes Vermont Yankee, Meredith Angwin compares the costs of New York State's Clean Energy Standard program with Vermont's Efficiency Vermont program. Clean energy standards are cheaper per capita and more important than efficiency improvements. New York's surcharges are smaller and protect everyone's air.  Vermont's surcharges are bigger, and help only a few.

At Northwest Clean Energy, John Dobken announces that Energy Northwest will receive Washington State funding for an innovative solar project, including a technician training facility in Richland, WA.  
Energy Northwest is home to only clean-energy resources, the largest of which is Columbia Generating Station.  The company also has hydro, wind and solar projects.

Looking at Other Strategies, World-Wide
(Trigger warning.  Some of this is unpleasant.)

At Forbes, James Conca usually writes about energy issues. In this post, he notes that the Obama Administration is thinking about adopting a No First Use policy for nuclear weapons, in which the U.S. would declare that we will never be the first to use nuclear weapons in any conflict, under any circumstances. Our current, less restrictive policy, is known as calculated ambiguity.  This has worked for 60 years, and no one knows if changing this would be good or bad. 

At Forbes, Rod Adams writes about recent articles and documentaries from Al Jazeera.  The documentary basically attempts to convince its audience that fear of nuclear energy  is well-justified, and that keeping reactors closed is a proper response to the Japanese events of five years ago. Adams notes that Al Jazeera is a media empire that is owned by the government of Qatar, one of the world’s largest LNG exporters. During the five years since the Fukushima accident, Japan has been the world’s largest and most lucrative market for LNG. Japan has burning LNG to produce electricity, instead of operating the 50 nuclear power plants that were not damaged by the accident.