Thursday, November 29, 2012

Engineering Adventures with Nevil Shute

Poster for No Highway in the Sky
from Wikipedia
Once again, I will be leading a course at ILEAD at Dartmouth.  This time I will lead a 4-session course in January called Engineering Adventures with Nevil Shute.  Below is a reprint of  the ILEAD catalog description of the class.


 Engineering Adventures with Nevil Shute

In this course we will read two of Nevil Shute’s  lesser-known books: Slide Rule (his autobiography) and No Highway, (which presaged the failure of the early De Havilland Comet airplane).

Based on these books, we will discuss the troubles that can befall engineering projects.  The books include issues of changing specifications, the difference between private enterprise and "government work," and how quirky individuals affect the outcome of projects.

The course will be participatory. We will discuss issues from the books, then we will trade "war stories": similar problems and solutions with our own projects.

The material will be of interest to engineers and non-engineers. If you have been involved in a big project, such as building a house, you have the background to enjoy this course.

Discussion group members should plan to read both books.


MEREDITH ANGWIN has a MS in Physical Chemistry. Though most of her life was spent in nuclear energy research and problem-solving, she also worked extensively with fossil fuels.  She likes to talk about technical subjects in a relatively non-technical fashion. For many years, her job title was "project manager." Consequently, she often wonders how projects get managed.


In this class, we are also going to watch the movie, No Highway in the Sky, in an optional extra class session.

I have led courses at ILEAD before, specifically:
Robert Hargraves did most of the work with Energy Safari.  I was co-leader of the course, and I have several posts about it on this blog.

Leading a course like this, as opposed to a leading a course in energy technology, will be a new adventure for me. Wish me luck!  I will post about the course occasionally.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Vermont Yankee: National and International Meeting Notes

National Notes about the Public Meeting

Today, I have a guest post at the American Nuclear Society's Nuclear Cafe Blog: Vermont Yankee's Greatest Hits from the Public Service Board Meeting. The post consists of excerpts from five of the statement presented in favor of Vermont Yankee at the November 7 Public Service Board meeting.  I included parts of the following statements:
  1. Dick Trudell saying that Vermont Yankee is batting .800, and why would anyone replace this type of plant with a couple of rookies batting 0.300 or less.
  2. Kenyon Webber pointing out that Vermont Yankee is a local business, and you should buy your electricity locally.
  3. Karen Wilson describing the effect of that a good job at Vermont Yankee has had on her family and her education.
  4. Peter Roth describing the "Misery Index" of being without electricity, and that phobias about radiation should not determine public policy.
  5. Heather Sheppard on how Vermont Yankee helps the tourism industry in Vermont by clean air, low rates, and beauty.
I tried to figure out how I had chosen these statements among so many good statements.  Then I realized: The ANS blog reaches a national and international audience.  I chose statements that were specific to Vermont, but had general applicability to most nuclear plants.

Read it and enjoy it!

Inter-National Notes about the Public Meeting:

Steve Aplin of Canadian Energy Issues his two posts mentioning the public meeting, and describing the effect of pro-nuclear activism in Vermont on pro-nuclear activism in Canada.

Nuclear Power in Vermont and Ontario: The locals fight back, intelligently.

The Nuclear Ground Game: Coming Soon to Courtice, Ontario

By the way, there's a lively and somewhat acrimonious comment thread on the latter blog post. My favorite comment is this one, which took a very unexpected turn:

robert budd wrote:

"I can’t see why we even entertain this debate. I’ve lived off-grid for 23 years using wind, solar and a fossil fueled generator. Being totally responsible for my own electricity needs has made me a bit of an energy wonk. Its also given me a strong appreciation for the huge benefit nuclear energy has provided for this province. This long, hot, windless summer was a great example."

Similarly, Rod Adams of Atomic Insights comments on the meeting in his blog post, On the Atomic Insights Radar. November 19.   Since that post also covers nuclear stories in Canada and India, I decided to count it as "international."  I am sure Rod won't mind!

All Politics is Local

Ultimately, all politics is local.  Ultimately, only a few people will be known at a national level, but we can all influence the choices made in the area where we live.

I sincerely hope that the solid arguments of the pro-Vermont Yankee people at these hearings will indeed influence others, in other parts of the country, and in other parts of the world. And of course, I hope our voices are heard by the Vermont Public Service Board.

Monday, November 26, 2012

Wind in Vermont is Oversold. Guest post by Willem Post.

Since I recently posted a video on Vermont wind, I thought it would be good to follow that post with a more technical post on the subject.  Luckily for me, Willem Post had just sent me an email about wind energy in Vermont. Here is his email, which he kindly turned into a guest post for this blog.

For a more complete version of this information, I recommend Post's letter to the Public Service Board in favor of Vermont Yankee.  A copy of this letter was published in True North Reports today, and contains more detailed information on capacity values (different fro capacity factor) and so forth. 

Industrial wind turbine (IWT) facility developers usually use estimated capacity factors (CFs) of 0.32 - 0.38 for IWTs on 2000-ft high ridge lines. These CFs are used to obtain financing from banks and investors, approval from government regulators, and to"sell" the project to legislators and the public.

The estimated CFs are based on proprietary wind testing reports that are sometimes given to the PSB, if requested, but not to ordinary, tax-paying citizens. This serves to keep people ignorant regarding wind energy.

Real world experience shows these CFs usually are overestimated, not just in Maine and Vermont, but elsewhere as well.  See below.

However, by law, the quarterly production data must be reported by IWT facility owners to the Federal Regulatory Energy Commission, FERC.

Below is a URL with quarterly production data reported by the IWT facility owners in Maine. The results are dismal, much less than the estimated CFs used for "selling" the project.

It is clear that these heavily-subsidized IWT facilities on 2000-ft high ridge lines are not economically viable, not even with the present huge subsidies.

Maine is not the only entity with such poor results. I have a spreadsheet showing the 2006 - 2011 average CFs for Germany (0.187), Denmark (0.251), the Netherlands (0.228), the US (0.289), Texas (0.225), Ireland (0.283), New York State (0.249).

How Is This Relevant to Vermont?

GMP will likely NOT rue the day it spent $160 million to put 63 MW of these IWTs on the Lowell Mountain ridge line, plus about $10 million, required by ISO-NE, for equipment to integrate the variable wind energy to the grid. GMP was going to place the burden on the other energy suppliers to the grid, but the ISO-NE follows the "user pays" rule, well familiar to all utilities, including GMP. Not a problem for GMP; it just rolls its extra cost into rate schedules.

GMP will charge ALL of its additional costs to the captive rate payers in its service area, 70% of Vermont households and businesses, which are already stressed, because of the Great Recession, AND rising prices of goods and service, AND stagnant/declining real household incomes since 2007, AND a near-zero-growth economy, AND financing heavily-subsidized RE follies.

Whereas, GMP may have been grossly misled and engaged in self-deception, it certainly had the resources to determine the facts before proceeding, unlike legislators and lay-public.

Independent energy systems analysts, with decades of experience, had advised against the Lowell Mountain IWT facility, but were shoved aside, ignored, even belittled.

Laurel Mountain Wind WV

Other Choices

GMP could have started with one 3 MW IWT to see how it would perform, but that was not impressive enough, as multi-millionaire Governor Shumlin wanted to proceed as quickly as possible, build as many IWTs as possible, destroy as many ridge lines as possible, to get as much state and federal subsidies as possible for Vermont's wind energy oligarchy, which consists mostly of multi-millionaires in the top 1%. It appears the Northest Kingdom area of Vermont has been targeted for several new IWT facilities, in addition to the ones on the Sheffield and Lowell Mountains.

New England annual average grid prices are about 5 c/kWh, nearly unchanged for the past 3 years, and likely to stay that way, because of a long-term, abundant, domestic supply of natural gas.

Hydro-Quebec energy is available under long-term contract at about 6 c/kWh. It is steady, CO2-free, available 24/7/365, rain or shine, windy or not windy.

Vermont Yankee's energy is available under long-term contract at about 5 - 6 c/kWh. It is steady, CO2-free, available 24/7/365, rain or shine, windy or not windy.

Lowell Mountain energy, heavily-subsidized with state and federal subsidies, is available at about 10 c/kWh, per GMP. Its cost would be about 15 c/kWh, unsubsidized, per US-DOE, not counting the extra costs of grid modifications and wind energy integration to the grid. GMP will just roll its extra cost into the rate schedules of already-stressed households and businesses.

When the Wind Blows and When It Doesn't Blow

In New England, with fair-to-good wind conditions only on 2,000-ft or higher ridge lines, about 30 percent of the hours of the year, near-zero wind energy is produced, because wind speeds are insufficient (less than 7.5 mph) to turn the rotors, or too great for safety, as during stronger weather fronts or tropical storms, such as Sandy and Irene, passing over the ridge lines.

About 60% of the wind energy is produced during about 30% of the hours of the year, mostly at night, and mostly during winter. During summer, with peak demands, almost no wind energy is produced. When IWTs produce near-zero energy, they draw energy from the grid.

Wind energy is variable and intermittent and requires quick-ramping gas turbines to operate in part-load-ramping mode, i.e., ramp down with wind energy surges and ramp up with wind energy ebbs to maintain a stable grid. This requires extra fuel/kWh and emits extra CO2/kWh, and causes extra wear and tear on equipment.

Winter nights have high wind energy
but low demand for electricity
At greater annual wind energy percentages on the grid, these extras mostly offset what wind energy was meant to reduce, i.e., wind energy is not a viable CO2 reduction technology, and it acts as a disturber of the grid which makes the grid less efficient and less stable, and it is very expensive.

The above indicates, there are many hours during a year when near-zero wind energy is produced. Therefore, almost all conventional generator units would still need to be kept in good operating condition, and staffed 24/7/365, and fueled, to serve the daily demand when near-zero wind energy is produced.

See below URLs which have had about 10,000 views till now.

About the Author

Willem Post is a member of the Coalition for Energy Solutions, and an internationally-known expert on wind energy.  He also proved his good taste by choosing to live in the town of Hartford, Vermont. 

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Nuclear Blog Carnival #132 at Hiroshima Syndrome

The Nuclear Blog Carnival #132 is now posted at Hiroshima Syndrome, Les Corrice's blog.  This blog usually posts Fukushima updates,  but today is hosting the Carnival.

The Carnival starts with good news about nuclear facilities in Russian, China and the United States, thanks to Brian Wang of Next Big Future.  We then move on to Yes Vermont Yankee: the Carnival features the guest posts by Cheryl and Evan Twarog about the importance of Vermont Yankee to everyday life in Vermont.  Rod Adams at Atomic Insights talks about risky technologies, risk assessment, and emotion. On a number of emotional measures, nuclear energy is superior to other forms of energy.  (We knew it was superior on non-emotional measures...this is a good balancing post and I love the comment stream.)

Following Rod's post, Les Corrice describes how the anti-nuclear movement is Japan is losing steam as people in Japan focus on their economy, the millions of tons of tsunami debris that is still not dealt with, the people living as evacuees from tsunami-damaged areas (not power plants) and other huge problems. The next blog post, Things Worse Than Nuclear, by Caroline (an engineering graduate student), describes the horrific natural gas explosions that have leveled parts of cities (including one fairly close to me, Springfield, MA).   I mean, natural gas explosions this week.  She wonders why these "everyday explosions" don't lead to any anti-natural-gas outcry.

And finally, for Thanksgiving, Gail Marcus of Nuke Power Talk gives thanks for this year's good news about nuclear energy, including new builds and the long-awaited awards of Small Modular Reactor cost-sharing.

It's a great Carnival.

Thank you, Les Corrice!

More thanks.

As I have mentioned before, I am a member of an email list of pro-nuclear bloggers. I have gotten to know so many bloggers: what they post, what they question, what they say. Nuclear bloggers are a sincere, thoughtful, well-informed, and helpful group.  I am thankful to be one of this group.

I am grateful for every person who reads my blog, and for every person who comments.  I am grateful that I am to contribute to education, prosperity, and environment by blogging.

I am grateful for family, friends, health, warmth, food and electricity.

I am grateful to G-d for every aspect of my life.

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Wind in Vermont: a Video

The people in this video, Margaret Harrington and Annette Smith, are eager to shut down Vermont Yankee. They are speaking on a TV series called "Nuclear Free Future."  This makes parts of the video hard to watch.  However, Annette Smith is realistic about the inability of wind projects to replace Vermont Yankee.

VPIRG and Governor Shumlin and Green Mountain Power have been very active in favor of wind.   VPIRG's booklet about shutting down Vermont Yankee proposed hundreds of wind turbines to replace it.  The Coalition for Energy Solutions (I am part of that group) wrote a report two years ago which debunked the VPRIG report.  Here's my blog post about the press conference for our report.

Annette Smith does not buy into the "wind-instead-of-Yankee" scenario favored by VPIRG. This video is a reasonable review of the current wind situation in Vermont.

I do not agree with everything in this video, but it has many valid points.  For example, the ridgeline water issue is well described.  On the other hand, wind doesn't break up large animal habitat badly, once the construction is complete.

I do not plan to go through this video word for word, however. Overall, I think this is worth watching.

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Thanksgiving Cheerfulness: Hargraves on LFTRs plus DOE Awards Cofunding for SMR

For Thanksgiving, I want to share two cheerful looks into the future of nuclear energy.

First, Robert Hargraves presentation: Thorium, Energy Cheaper Than Coal,  on November 9 at the Jones Seminar on Science and Technology at Dartmouth College  Here's a link to his book, too.

Second, a link to the Business Wire announcement that Babcock and Wilcox has been awarded Department of Energy cofunding for the mPower SMR (Small Modular Reactors).  Small, affordable, and with lots of passive safety features.  This may be the reactor of the future.

Have a good Thanksgiving!

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Vermont Yankee Meetings As Described on Other Blogs

I was pleased that three other blogs also reported on the Vermont Yankee Public Service Board hearing on November 7.

Vermont Yankee Supporters at Public Service Board Hearing: ANS Nuclear Cafe

Howard Shaffer's blog about the November 7, meeting, posted at ANS Nuclear Cafe, tells all...the preparations, the pizza, the success, the lessons learned.  A great post! (as you knew it would be)

Nuclear power in Vermont and Ontario: the locals fight back, intelligently: Canadian Energy Issues

Steve Aplin writes about our fight for Vermont Yankee, and a similar fight about a fuel pellet plant in Toronto.  As Aplin writes:  the Vermont Yankee fight might provide examples on how to use intelligence and reason—faculties available to all humans—to overcome medieval superstition.

Yes.  So true.

Note and full disclosure: Steve Aplin, Rod Adams and I travelled through France together in 2010. We are friends.

Gosh.  I have a hard time quoting Aplin's post.  It's surprisingly hard to accept praise.  Okay.  One quote. This is about the Nov 7 statements made as guest posts on this blog, and about me: The writers (of the statements) represent a diverse range of views and backgrounds, but are all in favour of keeping the plant running. When you read the articles, you will immediately note the intelligence and quiet passion with which the writers present their views. To me, this is no surprise. Meredith embodies the western critical intellectual tradition at its best.

Okay.  That's enough. I'm blushing.

I also want to thank Cheryl Twarog for her kind note on the Aplin  blog.

On the Atomic Insights Radar, November 19, 2012: Atomic Insights

In this blog post about various nuclear issues, Rod Adams reviews the environmental advocacy of John Droz, who is a thorn in the side of the wind industry.  He comments on the latest predictions of the rising price of natural gas.  He reviews the work we are doing in Vermont, and quotes Steve Aplin about me.   He wishes us well on the interactive hearing.

This is a wonderful post about the shape of the world of energy.  And...this just in! The Energy Department has just released the funding (cost-sharing funds) for the Babcock and Wilcox modular mPower Reactor. Since this is the project that employs Rod Adams, it is good news for Rod and his friends, as well as Very Good News for the nuclear industry!


Update: I wrote " yes so true"above, and I meant that the opponent's arguments were superstition, and we must use reason to combat them.  When I reread this, "yes. so true" was not very clear.

The opponent's arguments are be-afraid.  This is a mark of superstition, unless supported by facts.  We must use our reason to combat any type of "be afraid" that is not supported by evidence.  People near nuclear plants don't get more cancers than people anywhere else.  Alas, history shows that you can teach people to be-afraid...of anything.  If you work hard enough at teaching them.  End Update.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Public Service Board Interactive TV

I went to the  Public Service Board's interactive TV hearing on Vermont Yankee last night.  I  attended the one near my home: the White River Junction studio.

There were twelve or thirteen studios involved in the meeting.  The meeting was about three hours long, and I stayed for the first two hours.  During the time I was there, there were about the same number of speakers in favor of Vermont Yankee as speaking against the plant.  Overall, however, there were more opponents present than supporters. There were many opponents in the Brattleboro studio, for example.  As the crowd thinned out and the night grew later, the balance of speakers probably tilted toward the opponents.

WCAX had a good short video on the hearing. WCAX.COM Local Vermont News, Weather and Sports-

Fox News and WPTZ also covered the story in short articles. I was interviewed this morning by another radio station.  I expect more coverage of the event will come later.

My Impression

I was most impressed by the pro-Vermont Yankee speakers.  As someone who is very concerned with air quality, especially NOX pollution, I appreciated the statements made by a man who spoke of growing up in Burlington Vermont when the electricity was supplied by a coal-fired plant.  He spoke of the bad health consequences due to this plant's air pollution.

I was least impressed by some of the opponents who said that Vermont Yankee just wasn't what they envisioned as Vermont.  They claimed that Vermont should be small farms and artisans and artists, and Vermont Yankee just doesn't fit in.  Several people spoke in terms of this bucolic image.  They ignore the part of Vermont that is Yankee ingenuity. Precision Valley? Did they ever hear of Precision Valley?  Springfield Vermont was such an important machine tool center that it was considered to have become an important bombing target during WWII.

They also ignore air quality, of course.

I don't have transcripts, but I hope to locate some of the testimony later, perhaps with the court reporter transcript.

After the weekend.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Public Service Board Hearings Tonight

Interactive TV Public Service Board hearings are tonight.  They start at 7 p.m., but come earlier to sign up to speak.  The Public Service Board is listening to the public about granting a Certificate of Public Good to Vermont Yankee for twenty years of operation.  Let your voice be heard!

Here is where the hearings will be held:

Bennington                Senior Citizens's Service Center, 124 Pleasant Street  
Brattleboro                 Brattleboro Union High School, 131 Fairground Road - Room 125
Johnson                      Johnson State College, Bentley Hall - Room 211
Lyndonville                 Lyndon State College, 1001 College Road
Middlebury                 Hannaford Career Center, 51 Charles Avenue - 2nd Floor
Montpelier                  Vermont Department of Labor, 5 Green Mountain Drive
Newport                       North Country Union High School, 209 Veterans Avenue
Randolph Center        Vermont Technical College, VIT Studio - Morrill Hall
Rutland                        Stafford Technical Center, 8 Stratton Road - Room 108
Springfield                   Howard Dean Education Center, 307 South Street - 2nd Floor
St. Albans                     Bellows Free Academy, 4 Hospital Drive
White River Jct.           Community College of Vermont, 145 Billings Farm Road
Williston                       Blair Park, 451 Lawrence Place

Here's a link to the docket (Docket 7862) at the Public Service Board web site.

And here is a link to my earlier blog post on the hearings, with further information.

The most recent blog posts on this blog are statements in favor of Vermont Yankee...look at them to get ideas of what you might want to say!

See you tonight!

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Over 600 Families: Cheryl Twarog Guest Post

Cheryl Twarog

My name is Cheryl Twarog, and I’m proud to say that my husband works at Vermont Yankee.  At Vermont Yankee there are 620 of the most dedicated, hard-working, highly trained individuals you’ll ever meet.  But there’s another chapter in this story that often goes untold.  That’s the story of the Vermont Yankee families:  the moms & dads, husbands & wives, sons & daughters of the employees.

At Vermont Yankee we are 620 families strong.

  • That’s 620 families that count on the affordable health insurance that Vermont Yankee provides.
  • That’s 620 families that rely on the $65 million in wages paid each year.
  • That’s 620 families that worry that we will have to put our homes on the market, find another job in this tough economy, or move our children from the only schools they’ve ever known.
  • And that’s 620 families that are holding our breath hoping that you will agree that it’s for the public good that Vermont Yankee be given a certificate for continued operations.

My family is one of the Vermont Yankee families, and we realize just how much we have to lose if Vermont Yankee closes prematurely.  My husband, John, has worked and trained at Vermont Yankee for almost 14 years.  His skills are highly specialized and wouldn’t easily translate to other jobs in the area, making it necessary to pack up our family and move.  There is much that we would miss:
Such as the way the lives of everyone in our family have been enriched by our time spent volunteering for local non-profit organizations.

Or the many opportunities our boys have been blessed with, many of which are unique to the area…

  • Like the Keene State Orchestra and Keene Chamber Orchestra welcoming in our 12 year old son, Cam, who lives and breathes the violin.
  • Or the highly regarded service organization that has allowed our 15 year old son, Evan, to develop and demonstrate leadership skills, along with his compassion for others. 

Both boys have ambitious goals for their futures.

The simple truth is that much of this is possible because of Vermont Yankee, and our lives would look dramatically different if VY were to close prematurely.  As you work to make your decision I hope you’ll remember that there are 620 families just like ours, who depend on the continued operation of Vermont Yankee.

Thank you for being here tonight and giving us the chance for our  voices to be heard.
Cheryl Twarog and her family made these buttons
You can see many people wearing them at the meeting
(Only some of the buttons had the red background..mostly they were black)

This is the 17th in a series of posts which share statements made in favor of Vermont Yankee at the Public Service Board hearing on November 7, 2012.

At the hearing, Cheryl spoke directly after Evan spoke, and started her statement with a cheerful: "That's my boy!"

Cheryl Twarog also wrote a guest post on this blog:  When Did Nuclear Become a Four Letter Word?

Vital for the Region and My Family, A Teen-Agers View of Vermont Yankee: Guest Post by Evan Twarog

Evan Twarog
See note about the picture  (note near the end of the post)
My name is Evan Twarog. I am a sophomore at Keene High School, and have lived in this region for more than 13 years while my dad has worked at Vermont Yankee. In that time, I have grown to love the region, and couldn’t have imagined growing up anywhere else. Each year, I play two school sports, and I am a proud member of the Keene Rotary Interact Club.

As I’ve seen the legal battle pan out over my family’s primary income source, I’ve learned just how vital Vermont Yankee is to our community. Each year, the nuclear energy facility provides local charities and non-profits with hundreds of thousands of dollars in funding which helps ensure mouths go fed, athletes have gear to play in, and disabled citizens are taken care of. My father is the president of one of those organizations. For almost 14 years, he has worked at the facility and has risen to the position of Shift Manager. In the time he’s worked there, my confidence in Entergy and its employees has only increased.

At the facility, there is no higher priority than safety. In fact, he’s spent more time achieving and maintaining his reactor license than he spent in the four years it took him to get his Bachelor’s. In the past couple of years, as my interest in nuclear energy and VY has increased, I have delved into issues concerning the plant such as economics, safety and environmental issues, and this research has only made me more certain just how important VY is to Vermont’s economy and environment.

 In these rough economic times, it would be an enormous mistake to try to shut down Vermont Yankee and force the 600 families supported by the facility to move out the region. We have much to gain by keeping the facility operating, and much to lose by shutting it down. Thank you.


This is the 16th in a series of posts which share statements made in favor of Vermont Yankee at the Public Service Board hearing on November 7, 2012.

Evan Twarog wrote an earlier post on this blog: A Teen's View of Vermont Yankee.

A short note about the picture.  People were asked to line up so that they could get to the microphone quickly.  In this picture, you can see Cheryl Twarog standing just behind Evan, ready for her chance to speak.  Between them, sitting down, is Peter Lothes, who also spoke for the plant.  Just to Evan's left, also in an aisle seat, is a man who identified himself as Brother Toby from a Buddhist temple. This man was quoted in the Reformer.  Not surprisingly, he spoke against the plant and against all nuclear energy.

Power, Carbon and Costs: Peter Lothes Guest Post

Petition Urging Granting a Certificate of Public Good to Vermont Yankee

Peter Lothes, Engineer and Business Manager
My name is Peter Lothes.  I live in Quechee Vermont, and I am here to urge the granting of a Certificate of Public Good to Vermont Yankee so it may continue to operate.  As a retired engineer and business manager, I believe closing Vermont Yankee would result in a terribly negative  impact upon the state’s economy, the well being of its residents, and our mutual goal of reducing carbon in the atmosphere.

We need Vermont Yankee for a number of reasons:

First:  We need the power capacity

Over time, the need for power will grow in Vermont, and the rest of the northeast grid which Vermont Yankee supports. Without Vermont Yankee, the additional power will have to come from new construction of fossil plants.  This will be costly, and will increase carbon emissions. Obtaining power from Hydro Quebec (which itself includes nuclear power) may seem in the short term to solve Vermont’s problem, but  buying their power does nothing for the rest of the area that  Vermont Yankee serves, and relying on a power source from outside of the US has its own very considerable risks.    Every knowledgeable expert I have read agrees that other low/no carbon generators (wind, solar, thermal etc.) cannot provide the base load of electrical power that will be needed in the future.  Dr. James Hansen of the Columbia Earth Institute (on the world’s most respected environmentalists) makes this case persuasively in his Storms of my Grandchildren among other writings.

Second: We need it to contribute to the world’s control of carbon emission.

Dr. Hansen and others (e.g. Dr. Robert Hargraves, Dartmouth Professor, PhD physics)  argue persuasively that only the development of nuclear power  for base load,  can keep China, India,  and the United States from burning the huge coal resources each of these countries has.   This is because only nuclear power can generate electricity cheaper, significantly cheaper, than coal.  They will all burn the cheapest fuel, and if they do so, nothing else that the rest of us do will matter, and carbon emissions will grow dramatically

Third:  We need it to maintain our expertise in the nuclear power technology

We have, in Vermont Yankee,  solid nuclear power technology and experience, upon which we can build in the future, as nuclear power becomes an important industry.   This is an industry which can grow dramatically, providing technology driven manufacturing, scientific , clerical and administrative businesses and employment.  It could be a significant export opportunity for the US, and will provide jobs and economic growth that would not be outsourced.  In the 70’s’s and 80’s, we lost our nuclear technology leadership base, and now the next generation of power reactors are being built in France and China. They ultimately will generate electricity at about 4 to 5 cents per kWh.  If  we continue to lose this technology, we will be importing, in addition to plastic toys and clothing, nuclear power plants built in China.

The nuclear industry will have  good paying, reliable businesses and jobs, and we need to grow them here in Vermont.

Lastly:  We need it to contain the cost of electricity in this state to keep and attract new businesses, and citizens.

Vermont is a very unfriendly  cost environment for businesses and individuals, largely due to our tax  and distribution structure.  Electrical power cost has been one of the few areas where the price to consumers, while not advantageous, is not excessive.  It has been kept that way in the past due to the very low cost of Vermont Yankee power.

I understand the following to be the costs distribution utilities here now pay for power from various sources (data from memory, and could be off somewhat)

Solar:  27 cents per  kwh Wind  15 cents      Vermont Yankee  6.1  cents, plus revenue sharing

Quebec Hydro:  5.9 cents Coal: 12 to 13 cents ( in China 6 to 8)

The wrong selection of power sources would drive our electricity costs ever higher, and drive businesses like GE and IBM out of the state.  It will make it impossible to attract new industry, or even attract retirees. They are a considerable asset to the state, and they struggle under the tax burden.

If we fail to participate in this energy transition, our  Vermont economy will stagnate or worse, and we will suffer  significantly more  carbon emissions than would be the case with Vermont Yankee operating.


Peter B. Lothes

Quechee, VT 05059


This is the 15th in a series of posts which share statements made in favor of Vermont Yankee at the Public Service Board hearing on November 7, 2012.

Saturday, November 17, 2012

A Strong Vision for the Future of Vermont: Charles Kelly Guest Post

Charles Kelly
Professional Engineer
Addison, Vermont

Reference PSB Docket No. 7862

Gentlemen of the Vermont Public Service Board,

I am sure you have heard all the arguments before but some things are worth repeating.

The electrical generating capacity of Vermont Yankee needs to be continued as well as Vermont’s use of it. As you know there is no Vermont based generated energy on-line or feasible in the next decade that can replace Vermont Yankee’s near 5,000 giga -Whr per year. Vermonters do not discard useful tools before their time. Please do not discard this valuable in-place, environmentally clean, energy source.

Reliance on foreign and out-of-state energy sources, coupled with our own meager intermittent renewable sources, leaves us vulnerable to uncontrolled rate increases and in a weak bargaining position.

At some time in the distant future, a replacement state-of-the art energy system can make valuable use of the pre-qualified central generating site in Vernon.

Let the legacy of the 2012 Public Service Board be one of vision:
  • Vision to see through the political rhetoric.
  • Vision to not be fooled by the profiteering antics of the intermittent energy coalition.
  • Vision to provide affordable energy for Vermont’s working class and small business community.
  • And a vision to keep Vermont Yankee generating for Vermont.
Thank you for your attention.


Charles Kelly
Addison, Vermont


Charles Kelly drove from Addison Vermont to speak at the hearing.   He holds a BME and MME from Villanova University, and is a Professional Engineer  (P.E.) in Pennsylvania and Vermont. You can read more about Kelly's background at his earlier guest post: PV Solar and Vermont, Not a Good Fit.  Kelly serves on the planning commission for the town of Addison.

This is the 14th in a series of posts which share statements made in favor of Vermont Yankee at the Public Service Board hearing on November 7, 2012

Affordable Reliable Electricity; Dianne Amme Guest Post

Dianne Amme
Nuclear power is reliable and affordable and thus essential for quality of life.

I am personally dismayed that as a Vermont resident I don't get to purchase electricity from Vermont Yankee, but thank goodness the plant continues to operate and provide safe, carbon free, reliable affordable power for some lucky customers as well as provide many jobs.

Please approve the Certificate of Public Good.


Dianne Amme is a dental hygienist and lives in Norwich Vermont. She has three sons.

This is the 13th in a series of posts which share statements made in favor of Vermont Yankee at the Public Service Board hearing on November 7, 2012.

Friday, November 16, 2012

Global Warming and Vermont Yankee: Ellen Cota Guest Post

Ellen Cota
Vermont Yankee employee

I am Ellen Cota.  I am a mother of two active kids.  I live in the Emergency Plan Zone, am an active community member, a board member and a consumer of local goods.

I am also a proud employee at VY.  I work about ½ a football field away from the reactor.  I am the Operating Experience Coordinator at Vermont Yankee and I am responsible for reviewing events and issues at other nuclear facilities so we can learn from them and implement best practices.

This is critical time in history.  Like many, super storm Sandy has really frightened me.  The reality of climate change is becoming more real with each storm.  I am proud of the work at VY and know that this facility is not contributing to climate change.  Nuclear energy is the only clean-air source of electricity generation that provides large amounts of power 24/7.  We as a nation, not only VT need to embrace nuclear.

The facts are that coal and natural gas power plants not only pollute more, they also have a lower capacity factor or amount of electricity produced compare to the maximum it could produce.  Coal is 61%.  Natural gas is 46%.  Nuclear is around 90%.  Nuclear is more reliable and cleaner.  Vermont Yankee historically is one of the most reliable nuclear generating facilities of its type.

For my kids sake and the generations to come, please approve the Certificate of Public Good.


This is the twelfth in a series of posts which share statements made in favor of Vermont Yankee at the Public Service Board hearing on November 7, 2012.

Vermont People Work at Vermont Yankee: Patty O'Donnell Comments

Patty O'Donnell
Vernon Selectboard Chair
 Former State Representative
Patty O'Donnell spoke from notes, not a written statement.  She stated that Vermont Yankee is a safe plant, and one of the top-rated in the country.  Workers wouldn't live near the plant and send their children to school near the plant if the plant were not safe.

O'Donnell also spoke against the demonizing of "Entergy Louisiana" as quoted in the Brattleboro Reformer. 

Patty O'Donnell, chairwoman of the Vernon Selectboard and former legislator, said Yankee is "a high-quality nuclear power plant ... one of the best in the country."

"This isn't Entergy Louisiana," said O'Donnell. "It's Entergy Vermont Yankee. Look around this room you'll see the faces of the people who run this plant. That's Vermont Yankee."


This is the eleventh in a series of posts which share statements made in favor of Vermont Yankee at the Public Service Board hearing on November 7, 2012.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Avoid Carbon Dioxide, Keep Vermont Yankee; Dr. Carlos Pinkham Guest Post

Dr. Carlos Pinkham
Professor Emeritus
Biology and Ecology 

By Carlos Pinkham, Professor Emeritus, Norwich University

On the evening of November 7, I spoke before the Vermont Public Service Board in Vernon in support of the continued operation of Vermont Yankee. What appears below is quite similar to the testimony I submitted in written form to the board, and from which I drew my remarks.

In the ‘70’s, I was one of the U.S. Army’s first environmental scientists working National Environmental Policy Act issues with Project Managers.  I found that progress could be made if both parties would adopt four ground rules:

  • Agree that both sides had legitimate concerns. 
  • Agree to listen seriously to these concerns and see the problem from the other side’s perspective. 
  • Agree to think outside the box. 
  • Agree to be willing to compromise. 

Employing these four ground rules, we were able to ensure completion of the mission and mitigation of environmental impacts in each of the hundred plus projects I worked on. I sense that some of these rules are not being followed in the VY controversy.

As Vermonters, we have always taken pride in being environmentally conscious. We keep our streets clean, we protect our parks and lands, we recycle, and we have some of the country’s highest air quality ratings. These are the same sources of pride that motivate both sides of the Vermont Yankee debate.

Following, are some sources of pride that should be considered rationally from the pro Vermont Yankee side. Since coming online in 1972, Vermont Yankee has generated over 150 million megawatts of electricity and prevented more than 69 million tons of carbon dioxide from entering our air. Vermont Yankee’s clean operation avoids 2.8 million tons of carbon dioxide emissions annually, as well as emissions of sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxides.  Avoidance of these harmful greenhouse gases while producing almost three-quarters of the electricity generated in state has helped Vermont achieve its second-place nationwide ranking for lowest electric power-related carbon footprint.

In addition, Vermont Yankee has contributed significantly to Vermont’s number one ranking for “green” jobs per capita, according to a March, 2012 report by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Nuclear power jobs, including hundreds at Vermont Yankee, are clearly defined in the report as green jobs.

We would lose these sources of pride with a Vermont Yankee shutdown. MIT Professor and head of the Dept. of Nuclear Science Dr. Richard Lester notes that Vermont Yankee’s closure would lead to significant increases in carbon emissions. If the 620 MW of power provided by the plant is replaced by natural gas-fired plants on the New England grid, the increase would be equivalent to 30% of the state’s total current emissions.

Vermont has always been an environmental leader. If we choose to close down Vermont Yankee, our leadership could suffer, as closing Vermont Yankee will lead to heightened use of fossil fuels to meet electricity demand.

Carlos F. A. Pinkham, PhD
Active Professor Emeritus

Co-Director, Vermont State Science and Mathematics Fair
Chair, Vermont ESTEEM Network
Researcher, Vermont EPSCoR Streams Project
Faculty Advisor, Norwich Christian Fellowship

Norwich University is the oldest senior military college in the United States, founded in 1819.

This is the tenth in a series of posts which share statements made in favor of Vermont Yankee at the Public Service Board hearing on November 7, 2012.

Public Service Board Interactive Hearing on November 19

People lining up to sign up to speak at Nov 7 hearing
Note the Vermont Yankee green stickers!

The Public Service Board Hearing on November 7

The Public Service Board (PSB) held only one in-person hearing on Vermont Yankee, in Vernon Vermont on November 7.  The hearing was a triumph for Vermont Yankee supporters, because supporters outnumbered plant opponents and the supporters gave excellent testimony. I have almost a dozen guest posts of their testimony.

The Future: November 19

The PSB is holding one more hearing, not in person, but by interactive TV.  This hearing will be easier to attend, but it probably won't get as much publicity. However, nuclear opponent web sites talk about setting up their phone banks to get attendance for this interactive hearing. We need to have supporter voices heard, too!

This is how it will happen. There are interactive-TV studios in many places in Vermont.  On Monday November 19, at 7 p.m, hearings will begin at the interactive TV studios. Come early to sign up to speak!

The interactive TV studios are at:

Bennington--Senior Citizen's Service Center, 124 Pleasant Street
Brattleboro--Brattleboro Union High School, 131 Fairground Road, Room 125
Johnson--Johnson State College, Bentley Hall, Room 211
Lyndonville---Lyndon State College, 1001 College Road
Middlebury--Hannaford Career Center, 51 Chalres Avenue, 2nd Floor
Newport---North Country Union High School, 209 Veterans Avenue
Randolph Center--Vermont Technical College, VIT Studio, Morrill Hall
Rutland---Stafford Technical Center, 8 Stratton Road, Room 108
Springfield--Howard Dean Education Center, 307 South Street, 2nd Floor
St. Albans--Bellows Free Academy, 4 Hospital Drive
White River Junction--Community College of Vermont, 149 Billings Farm Road
Williston--Blair Park, 351 Lawrence Place

If you live in Vermont, there is surely a studio near you. Attend if you can.   Here's the PSB docket with the information on the hearings.

What Shall I Say?

When you go to the hearing, you should say why you support Vermont Yankee. Jobs, environment, economic contributions, general pro-nuclear statements...whatever you feel is your reason for support. This blog has many posts with testimony from previous hearings. Their reasons are different, but the conclusions are the same: The Public Service Board should issue a Certificate of Public Good for 20 more years of Vermont Yankee operation.

You will be limited to two or three minutes.  Just a few paragraphs or talking points will fill all your time. Preparing your statement should not be too difficult.  It is also possible that there will be many attendees and you will not get a chance to speak.  If this happens, you can email your statements to the PSB later. You can contact the PSB here. Be sure to mention Docket 7862.

The Past and the Future

The Vermont energy future can be buying power from out of state (including nuclear power) and laying off hundreds of people.  It can be greenhouse gases and acid gases from fossil fuels.

Or it can be continuing to have in-state jobs and  a clean power supply.  Come to the hearing to support nuclear power and Vermont Yankee.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

The Ability to Live in My Home: Karen Wilson Guest Post

Karen Wilson
Good evening, my name is Karen Wilson.

I am here to support Vermont Yankee in obtaining the Certificate of Public Good.

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 grand-daughters, 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, 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 I to continue to live in our home, for me to support my family and for me to continue my education.
I personally feel, and have experienced firsthand, that Vermont Yankee is a safe and vital contributor to its employees and to the community.

Thank you for the opportunity to share my story with you.


This is the ninth in a series of posts which share statements made in favor of Vermont Yankee at the Public Service Board hearing on November 7, 2012.

Baseball, Reliable Power, and Vermont Yankee: Richard Trudell Guest Post

Richard Trudell, Civil Engineer
Good evening, my name is Dick Trudell, I live in Grand Isle. I’m a civil engineer with professional licenses in Vermont and Massachusetts.  I founded Trudell Consulting Engineers in Williston, employing upwards of 15 people and am now retired.

Over a career spanning 41 years, I’ve learned not to take on projects you don’t have the ability or technical capacity to complete.  Being a native Vermonter, I also feel that I have a certain amount of common sense.  Why do these two things compel me to 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 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% capacity factor.  Now if you had someone on your team batting 0.800, 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 that are batting at best 0.300, require state subsidies before they will even go to the locker room to suit up, and their salaries cost more that the dependable pro you have had for years.  Then you find out they can only play for a couple of years before they need surgery or knee replacements.  You have got to be kidding me.

You know that Vermont Yankee makes on-demand power, but solar and wind are “intermittent.”  That is why they bat only 0.300.  With our current technological abilities, too many 0.300 players will give you a bad season, and too high a proportion of intermittent power will challenge, and could eventually crash the transmission grid.

The State of Vermont’s plan acknowledges this shortcoming, but its solution – building biomass and natural gas plants and buying lots of out of state nuclear, coal and especially natural gas power – has its own permitting, environmental, and cost problems, that to me exceed the cost of maintaining and improving Vermont Yankee, and, if I may add, eventually replacing the existing boiling water reactor plant with a state of the art breeder reactor plant at the same site, hence reducing or eliminating the problem of spent fuel storage.

In my opinion, we can build renewables gradually and sensibly only if we keep existing baseload sources, especially those like Vermont Yankee, which are emissions free, reliable, and provide outstanding economic benefits. And those renewable resources have to be cost effective as well, operating without subsidies.  Until some engineer, more clever than me, finds a way to, in effect, turn intermittent power into baseload, this seems like the prudent way to go.

Vermonters are right to want clean air.  We are right to want energy independence.  We are right to want to keep what is left of our manufacturing base.  For all of these reasons, we are right to ask you to keep Vermont Yankee operating.

Thank you

Richard Trudell


This is the seventh in a series of posts which share statements made in favor of Vermont Yankee at the Public Service Board hearing on November 7, 2012.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Vermont Tourism Supported by Vermont Yankee: Heather Sheppard Guest Post

Heather Sheppard

 For years I have been working on the front lines of the Vermont tourism industry, and it is from this vantage point that my support for Vermont Yankee has developed. On Nov. 7, I traveled to Vernon – a six hour drive round-trip – to tell the Vermont Public Service Board why I support Vermont Yankee.

For many years, I have worked directly with the guests at one of America's leading family destination resorts.  They tell me they come to Vermont because it is beautiful and unspoiled, because the air is clean and the views are gorgeous. If they wanted dirty air or visual clutter, they would have gone somewhere else, or just stayed home. Most of my guests come from nearby out of state - from the other New England states, New York, or the two closest Canadian provinces. Most of them drive part or all of the way. In short, they come not only for the fun of the resort itself, but for the beauty of surrounding Vermont, especially the mountains, for the clean air, and because its nearness makes it affordable, compared to the resort competition out west.

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.

Finally, Vermont Yankee power is very affordable, especially when compared to the renewable power that Montpelier seems determined to make us pay for. Unfortunately the paying public isn't just my family. Resorts use a lot of electricity, and it is a simple rule of business that the customer always pays in the end.

Heather Sheppard
North Cambridge, VT


This is the seventh in a series of posts which share statements made in favor of Vermont Yankee at the Public Service Board hearing on November 7, 2012.

Monday, November 12, 2012

Buy Local and Help Your Community: Guest Post by Kenyon Webber

Kenyon Webber
Electrical Design Engineer
Vermont Yankee

My name is Kenyon Webber and I moved here to work as a Design Engineer with Vermont Yankee.  I am here to bring three points to your attention.

First, about the economy of the area. A few months ago, I had the privilege of attending the Regional meeting of the group SEVEDS, South Eastern Vermont Economic Development Strategies.  The findings of this group were quite disturbing, but not surprising to me.  They found that the average income for the state is $38,800 and for the southeastern region it is around $32,500 with a college degree.  The national median income is $54,756, according to the Dept. of Labor of Bureau and Statistics. SEVEDS also reported that there is a decline in the population in the southeastern region of Vermont of people age 44 and under.  Those of us who moved here to work for this facility would like to continue to work here. Also, the area would lose over $6 million in taxes that Vermont Yankee presently provides to this community.

Second, Vermont Yankee is a good community partner.  I personally have worked with three very successful projects in the two years I have been with the company: Project Feed the Thousands, work on the Boys and Girls Club of Brattleboro, and the remodeling of the Brattleboro Drop-In Center.  Without the work of these dedicated people from the facility, many people would not be fed and the Boys and Girls Club and Brattleboro Drop In Center would still be in major disrepair.

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.

Webber has a bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering from Tennessee Technological University. You can read more about her on the Vermont Yankee website, which interviewed young engineers Kenyon Webber and Brian O'Callahan for Engineering Week.


This is the sixth in a series of posts which share statements made in favor of Vermont Yankee at the Public Service Board hearing on November 7, 2012.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Phobias Should Not Determine Policy: Guest Post by Peter Roth

Peter Roth,  Chemical Engineer

My name is Peter H. Roth and I am a resident of the Town of Hartford Vermont. I  am here this evening to petition this board to support and issue a Certificate of Public Good for the Vermont Yankee Nuclear Power plant.
I have thought long and hard about this issue, and as an experienced chemical engineer and scientist, with a strong interest in safe, reliable and inexpensive electric energy, I have concluded that the Yankee plant should remain open for another 20 years. My arguments are short and reasonable to support my position and I want to share them with this board.

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. If electric rates go up, the only option is to cut another expense. This impacts people at the lower end of the economic scale and increases their “Misery Index”

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.

Many say: substitute nuclear power with wind, solar, Quebec Hydro, or ISO New England grid. However Quebec Hydro and ISO-NE grid also depend on nuclear power as part of their grid contribution. Since the electrons we buy from the grid don’t know where they came from, whether Seabrook or Pilgrim or Gentilly 1 & 2. Since we buy most of our electricity in Vermont from Quebec Hydro and ISO-New England grid, we are “ De Facto” supporting nuclear power that someone else has produced. The only honest course, if you don’t like nuclear power, don’t buy from the grid and become self supporting and see how long you can support such an energy cost.

The final argument for maintaining Vermont Yankee, is jobs and the economy. The Vernon plant supports hundreds of good paying jobs and contributes a large tax revenue into the Vt. economy. Try to look someone in the face, that support family and children, and tell them, I was responsible for your loss of job and income. Then try to justify what you did that weakened the local and state economy, upon which so many depend.                                                                                                                            

In summary, the issuance of a Certificate of Public Good is a very logical and reasonable action that this board is empowered to do. The Vt. legislature created this board to act as a non-political but expert entity to oversee important public energy issues. Please act in support of your neighbors and citizens.

Peter Roth has a BS and MS in Chemical Engineering, and wide industrial experience ranging from missile systems to imaging.  Roth holds 22  U S patents, with more patents pending.  He is a founding member of the Coalition for Energy Solutions, and you can read more about his background here. Roth leads classes at Dartmouth's ILEAD.  In the fall quarter, he led a course: Save the F E W (Food, Energy, Water).


This is the fifth in a series of posts which share statements made in favor of Vermont Yankee at the Public Service Board hearing on November 7, 2012.


Air Pollution and Vermont Yankee

Meredith Angwin speaking at the PSB hearing
My name is Meredith Joan Angwin and I live in Wilder Vermont.  I am here to speak in favor of granting Vermont Yankee Certificate of Public Good for continued operation.  I am the Director of the Energy Education Project of the Ethan Allen Institute, I blog at Yes Vermont Yankee.

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!

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Vermont's Fair Share of the Grid: Howard Shaffer Guest Post

Howard Shaffer III
Professional Engineer
ANS Vermont Grassroots project

Operating Vermont Yankee is Vermont’s “Fair Share” of the Grid

Operating Vermont Yankee is in the Public Good because it is Vermont’s “Fair Share” of the New England grid.  Vermont depends on the grid and also supports the grid.  The grid is a shared resource and commitment, between all the members.  For the overall good, all members must accept things that may not be optimum for them, or things that they don’t agree with, or like.  

Vermont depends on the grid to supply its out of state power, and to buy its excess power.  
Vermont Yankee (VY) is not currently selling its power to Vermont, but this is not all it contributes.  VY provides capacity to the grid that does not emit CO2.  Without VY, gas plants would run to provide the difference, in the short and medium term.  The New England carbon footprint is more than it can be without VY.  This diminished CO2 emission is part of Vermont’s contribution to the region.

Without VY the grid will be less robust than it is with the plant.  The grid operator has said it will be adequate without VY, but with it the grid will be better, by having more capacity available for emergency situations.

The VY plant provides reactive power services to the grid at its location.  Without the plant the compensation would have to be provided from other sources or equipment.

The items to be considered for the Public Good speak of out of state projects that benefit Vermont, but not the opposite situation.  The items don’t seem to address the situation of a project in Vermont that does not sell power to the state, yet supports the whole grid, and provides other interstate benefits.

The concept of “Fair Share” may be illustrated by asking Vermonters if they still want gasoline for their vehicles.  If they say “Yes” then ask them if they will accept a refinery in the state.  If they oppose a refinery, yet still want gas, ask them how it is fair that some other location and people bear the burden of the refinery for them.

Respectfully submitted

Howard Shaffer, PE, Vermont license 5419


Howard Shaffer was a startup engineer  and a systems engineer at Vermont Yankee and several other power plants.  He is a long-time member of the American Nuclear Society (ANS), and was an ANS Congressional Fellow in 2001. Read more about Shaffer's background in Monday Blue Ribbon, Howard Shaffer and Public Outreach.

Shaffer and I work together closely on energy education and pro-nuclear advocacy. We both received ANS Presidential Citations this year.   Shaffer blogs each month at ANS Nuclear Cafe, and is a frequent guest blogger on this blog.

This is the third in a series of posts which share statements made in favor of Vermont Yankee at the Public Service Board hearing on November 7, 2012.