Saving Vermont Yankee
Rod Adams is exploring ways to keep Vermont Yankee operating. Vermont Yankee is a solid factory, and it makes a product that remains in high demand. As a matter of fact, the demand is high and the product (electricity) goes through periods of very high demand compared to the supply. During the polar vortex last winter, the price of electricity on the grid soared to above 30 cents per kWh, while diesel fuel was pressed into service to meet the demand.
"Rod Adams is exploring ways..." Is this a fair description? When Luke Skywalker says: "I'll try," Yoda gives him the advice that has passed into legend:
"Do. Or do not. There is no try."
Is Adams merely "trying"? No. Rod is highly committed to saving Vermont Yankee. This is not "trying."
On the other hand, despite Yoda's saying, some work succeeds in reaching its goals. Some work does not. With this work, only time will tell.
Emotional Commitment: After the announcement that Vermont Yankee would close, I wrote a guest post at ANS Nuclear Cafe about my emotions about the closing: We Are Not Spock. Rod Adams followed this post with a guest post at my blog in November, 2011 The first words of his guest post were: "Meredith, you are not alone in your sorrow." Rod also wrote a post about the plant at his own blog: Nuclear professionals can, and should get emotional. This post has over 100 comments.
I am starting here, with Adams's emotions and commitment, instead of starting Adams's planning. Because....nothing gets done without emotional commitment. Our opponents know this. I am trying to acknowledge this.
Excellent Plant: Adams took a tour of Vermont Yankee in March of this year, and quickly wrote a post about why the plant should be saved: What a Waste--Vermont Yankee is in beautiful condition. The post has over 60 comments. (Note, the comment streams on Rod's posts are usually worth reading.)
Employee Ownership: At this point, Rod's strategy began to take shape: Employee Ownership. On May 1, on his own blog, Adams posted Vermont Yankee, a Clean Kilowatt Cow That Deserves Saving. (Once again, 55 comments.) Some key sentences in this post are quoted below:
When I left the plant I ended up following a truck on the highway from Cabot Creamery that said “Owned by Dairy Farmers Since 1919.” That started the wheels turning.
Vermont has a deep history of cooperative businesses. ....The state is also one of several states that allows companies to incorporate as ‘B’ corporations with bylaws that enforce social goals that sometimes conflict with maximizing profits.
It is up to us to save Vermont Yankee: In his most recent post at ANS Nuclear Cafe (yesterday, as a matter of fact) Adams discusses whether Entergy really tried hard to sell the plant....or not. He concludes that it is up to us activists to save Vermont Yankee. Save Vermont Yankee. If not you, who? If not now, when?
In this post, he hints at his work finding financial backers for the employee buy-out plan. He is committed to this. He may succeed or he may not, but he is not merely "trying." There is no try.
Adams is contacting people, and Adams will be out in Vermont again this summer. If you know of people who can help him (any venture capitalists in the crowd?) please contact me or Rod. If you don't know Rod's email, write me at mjangwin at gmail and I will put you in contact.
Buying the plant should be inexpensive, I think. The plant is also quite profitable right now, having recently shared $17 million in excess profits with Green Mountain Power. The requirement to share that money would not survive a change in ownership, by the way, and the new owner should have an even more profitable plant. However, the new owner will have to prove that it has the resources to maintain the plant, and that is where the backers come in. The backers would be guarantors, as I see it. I don't think they would have to invest large sums of money immediately. I hope Adams comments on this, because I could easily have it wrong. I have never tried to buy a power plant. :-)
Beyond Vermont Yankee
Imagine that a Vermont Yankee employee asked me: "Well, should I stop looking for a new job? Will VY continue?" I don't think I would advise her to stop looking for a new job. There is a reasonable chance Adams efforts will succeed....and a reasonable chance they will fail.
I'm talking about Vermont Yankee here.
But looking beyond Vermont Yankee, the things that Adams learns in this attempt may well save other power plants in less vitriolic states. Adams is highly committed to this and we should help him. This is not a mere "try."