Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Hot Air About Jobs

It was no surprise to me that all the Democratic candidates for Vermont Governor are determined to ensure that Vermont Yankee closes down by 2012. If nothing else, I heard them all speak at the Race to Replace in Montpelier in late April. The Race to Replace (replace Vermont Yankee, that is) began the same day that my Coalition For Energy Solutions group gave a press conference releasing our report on Vermont Electric Power in Transition. Listening the the candidates was disheartening: they ranged from attack-dogs like Shumlin to "the renewable future's so bright I have to wear shades" words of Matt Dunne. But they were all eager to shut down Vermont Yankee.

Yesterday, the Burlington Free Press published an article asking the candidates a simple question: "How are you going to replace the jobs lost if Vermont Yankee closes down?" Comment & Debate: Vermont gubernatorial candidates offer ideas to replace jobs if Vermont Yankee closes. The amount of hot air put forward by the Democratic candidates on this question is truly astounding.

A summary below:
  • Matt Dunne wants bonds for efficiency projects. He is willing to admit that efficiency costs money.
  • Deb Markowitz believes in HydroQuebec.
  • Doug Racine gives the usual set of solutions: conservation and renewables. He likes what California did with SMUD. They put up solar panels right on the site of the retired reactor. And by golly, when the sun shines, they have two megawatts of power. (Rancho Seco was 950 megawatts). Of course, you can have this sort of terrific success in sunny California. Here's a video about Rancho Seco and its solar installation.
  • Peter Shumlin. Look. Nobody pays me to blog. I don't have to read this one. Sigh. Okay. We expect every blogger to do her duty. Here goes....
    Shumlin is concerned that VY will go into SAFESTOR and not immediately provide decommissioning jobs. He plans to prevent SAFESTOR from happening. Shumlin apparently has not read the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) approving the sale of VY to Entergy. Article 9 of the MOU specifically allows SAFESTOR.
  • Martha Abbott, Progressive Democrat, supports Sarah Edwards (long-time anti-Yankee representative) in her hope that Entergy employees will be retrained for "comparable jobs." Abbott and Edwards apparently believe that the workers lack training, not that Vermont lacks "comparable jobs." Abbott also warns against forces that "pit the VY workers against the environmentalists." Oh dear. Could that really happen?According to Abbottt, it IS happening, due to a conspiracy between Entergy and the Burlington Free Press to cause animosity between the two groups.
  • Susan Bartlett believes SAFESTOR will create jobs (how about Bartlett and Shumlin having a little talk?) and also hopes for a biomass plant on the site.

They also interviewed Brian Dubie, Republican candidate for Governor who simply hopes to encourage economic growth by licensing and tax policy. He doesn't have a quick fix. Of course, he also supports the plant continuing to operate.

It's a long article, full of sound and fury, signifying little.

News flash: Three unions have endorsed Doug Racine for governor. The State Employee's Union endorsed him yesterday. I am not sure if that means Racine is the Democratic front-runner. Reading his comments, he seems the most moderate of the Democratic candidates about Vermont Yankee. He speaks about costs and plant management as reasons to close the plant down. He doesn't rant about tritium endangering workers and the public, etc.

I have learned to be grateful for small favors.

1 comment:

Bill Rodgers said...


Just to comment on the SMUD video.

One key number stated in the video: The solar arrays only provide 0.05% of SMUD's total power generation. And that is after 15-20 years of solar generation operating experience. Basically it is a showpiece, not a real generating facility.

And as is stated in the video the load in the summers peak around 5pm which is past the prime time for solar generation.

Finally, at 3:45 in the video there is a facility shown the background. That is the 500MW Consummes Power Plant which basically takes the place of Rancho Seco. The original license was for two 500MW combined cycle plants.

So much for that vast solar array power supply. At 2MW it's power is basically lost in the noise since both facilities are hooked into the same switchyard at Rancho Seco.