|Meredith Angwin speaking at the PSB hearing|
I am a physical chemist by training. I worked at improving pollution control methods and corrosion resistance of nuclear, gas, geothermal and coal plants. I was a project manager at the Electric Power Research Institute. I also consulted with many utilities, in the U. S. and abroad.
I am here today as a citizen of Vermont who wants Vermont to remain the clean, green and attractive state that it is today. Nuclear power has the least environmental impact of all baseload types of electricity. Specifically, it creates no air pollution. Nuclear power creates no nitrogen oxides.
Intermittent renewables like solar and wind must have be backed up by baseload power and dispatchable power. What kind of backup power will Vermont choose? Hydro, nuclear or fossil?
New hydro plants and new nuclear plants are unlikely to come on-line in this region. Our practical choices are Vermont Yankee, new fossil plants, or buying power from outside Vermont. I will discuss the environmental issues of natural gas versus Vermont Yankee, because I have technical expertise in this area.
Fossil power means air pollution. Natural gas plants are the best in terms of emissions, but they emit acid gases to the air: carbon dioxide and nitrogen oxides. I will talk about nitrogen oxides, an acid gas that contributes to acid rain and smog. I have patents in the control of nitrogen oxides.
Controlling nitrogen oxides is difficult. At the high temperatures in gas turbines, the air actually burns itself. That is, the nitrogen in the air combines with oxygen in the air and makes nitrogen oxides (NOX). NOX is only partially controlled by ammonia addition at the end of the process. Sometimes the ammonia itself becomes a pollutant.
NOX is a very acid gas, contributing to acid rain. NOX is also the main cause of smog, which can happen on any sunny day. You don't have to be in Los Angeles to get smog. All you need is NOX and sunshine.
Nuclear plants do not release NOX. They keep our air clean. For clean Vermont air, we need to make our baseload power with Vermont Yankee, not fossil fuels.
This is the fourth in a series of posts which share statements made in favor of Vermont Yankee at the Public Service Board hearing on November 7, 2012.
I almost labelled it a "guest post" but then I remembered that I wrote it!