Sunday, December 27, 2015

Save Fitzpatrick: An Opportunity to Help

Fitzpatrick Nuclear plant is now the subject of a hard-hitting website, Upstate Energy Jobs.  The name of the site's video expresses why Fitzpatrick should be saved: This is What Closing a Power Plant Looks Like. (Video is also embedded below.)

You can take action to save the plant. On the home page, there are links to Sign the Petition and a link to Contact the Governor.   I urge you to follow both links.  Also, I encourage you to explore the website, which includes links to news about Fitzpatrick.

From the About page of the website:  Upstate Energy Jobs is funded by the County of Oswego Industrial Development Agency.  All hail to the sensible people of Upstate New York!  (My husband was born and raised in Upstate New York.)

Go to the Home Page, sign the petition, write an email to the Governor. I am grateful to Oswego Industrial Development Agency for building a page with convenient links--to help us make a difference.

Sad side note: Can you imagine any official Windham County governmental organization doing anything to save the jobs at Vermont Yankee?  I can't.  Looking back at everything, I am amazed by the lack of community feeling in greater Windham County.  End note.

Since upstate New York has a local movement that is trying to save the plant, let's help them.

Friday, December 11, 2015

Guest post by Guy Page on Decommissioning Advisory Panel

NDCAP Advisory Opinions
Preserving the Vermont Yankee Decommissioning Fund
            By: Guy Page                   

On November 12, 2015, the Vermont Nuclear Decommissioning Citizens Advisory Panel (NDCAP) held its first public discussion regarding four NDCAP-sourced advisory opinions about controversial aspects of Vermont Yankee decommissioning. The full text of each opinion appears on the NDCAP website. The following comments about each opinion are made with regard to the prompt, safe decommissioning of Vermont Yankee.

Advisory Opinion #1, Engaging Host Communities

Authored by the Windham Regional Commission (WRC), this opinion recommends “that an organization such as the National Association of Development Organizations be supported to convene host communities to inform federal policy” by documenting the local experience of past decommissions, assessing community impacts of deferred vs. non-deferred decommissioning, and forming a Host Community Decommissioning Task Force to provide local government insight to the NRC. On this opinion there are two areas of concern:

Fair Representation: At the public hearing, discussion immediately focused on the definition of “host community.” A longtime Vermont Yankee opponent insisted on no special preference for Vernon, the physical host of VY and its strongest supporter. A Vernon panelist noted in response that Vernon will be more impacted than any other community by decommissioning decision making. NDCAP needs to ensure that any new organization fairly and equally represents the actual needs of the host communities, and therefore must not be influenced by political or ideological interests.

Financial Support: WRC should clarify: does “supported by” mean financial support? And if so, who pays? The logical choice would be the communities themselves, because they are presumably acting in their own interests. No funding support plan should involve the Decommissioning Trust Fund (DTF). For this reason Entergy, too, should not be billed, because it would likely submit this expense for reimbursement to the DTF as a cost of decommissioning.

Unless these two issues can be satisfactorily resolved, the responsibility of advising the NRC on behalf of host communities should continue to rest with the individual communities, the NDCAP, and the State of Vermont.

Advisory opinion #1 was approved November 12 with minor changes. The three remaining opinions await public discussion.

This opinion argues for the elimination of groundwater testing for extremely low concentrations of radiation, as adopted by the State of Vermont in 2014 per a new testing laboratory contract, because it no longer promotes public health or safety. Expensive testing that was valid during the tritium releases and when the reactor was operating is now unnecessary and redundant. Wherever possible, redundant, expensive measures that have outlived their usefulness should be eliminated.

The spent fuel opinion would abandon the proposal for a second fuel storage pad (Pad II) adjacent to the current pad, now before the Vermont Public Service Board, in favor of another more distant pad. The opinion alludes to several past statements by Entergy legal counsel and the Public Service Board suggesting that when the intensive physical work of decommissioning begins (possibly in 2032), a third pad may be necessary. The opinion suggest saving time and money over the long haul by building it now. 

Saving time and money is essential to the prompt, safe decommissioning of Vermont Yankee. That’s why Entergy’s plan for Pad II should proceed. The permitting process alone for another new pad would be time-consuming and expensive. The geological and soil-testing standards and testing are extremely rigorous. Therefore, it is not certain that an approved third pad will be available, much less needed. Meanwhile Vermont Yankee wishes to move the spent fuel into dry cask storage on the proposed Pad II as early as 2017. Most agree that dry casks are the safest, most secure onsite storage configuration. While the fuel pool storage is satisfactory and NRC-approved, Windham County would prefer dry cask storage. It should also be noted that the sooner the fuel is loaded into dry casks, the sooner it can be made transportable, should the federal government finally fulfill its three-decade old promise to claim spent fuel from all reactors nationwide.

In short, the sooner spent fuel can be safely moved into dry casks on adjacent pads, the better.

The final opinion would require continued funding for the Radiological Emergency Funding Plan (RERP) past its scheduled expiration date in 2016, with the scope of the plan and its cost to be determined by the State of the Vermont and the impacted towns. This also includes Department of Health independent (and redundant) monitoring at the site through the SAFSTOR or dormancy years.

The risk of radioactive exposure now is less than when VY was operating, and will decrease as the years pass. Therefore, funding should be scaled to the varying level of risk. However, VTEP asserts the State of Vermont should not oversee the scope and cost of the ongoing emergency planning, for the following reasons:

1)      Nuclear safety must remain the prerogative of the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission. This is a matter of settled law that the State of Vermont has unsuccessfully challenged once before. The State of Vermont and its communities may and should inform, advise and request, but they must not assume any safety-related decision making authority. The NRC has a seasoned staff of independent safety experts and a strong safety record and should continue to hold responsibility for safety oversight at the plant.

In the current and future safety environment, the recommended level of emergency response is unnecessary and overly-expensive. Even though the reactor will be empty and cold, and spent fuel slowly decaying in the fuel pool and dry casks, this opinion would maintain 12 of the 13 RERP emergency response capabilities suitable for an operating nuclear power plant. Furthermore, the State of Vermont and the towns surrounding Vermont Yankee might regard “emergency” funding as a budget-plugging windfall. In fact, Entergy Vermont Yankee will be at about 20% of its operating staff which is largely based on the reduced risk and soon-to-be NRC-approved Emergency Plan changes. 

2)      Decommissioning would be delayed. This opinion is in conflict with the State’s insistence that unnecessary spending be limited so that the DTF may accrue. According to one Vermont Yankee estimate, continuing the RERP would cost $120 million over a six-year period. As this large sum would almost certainly be withdrawn from the DTF, decommissioning would be significantly delayed.

It is important to note that Entergy representatives have repeatedly told NDCAP their company’s reason for business is energy generation, not plant decommissioning. The company’s stated, primary goal for Vermont Yankee isn’t profit, but safe, prompt decommissioning and site restoration. In support of this commitment, Entergy entered into a time-saving Master Settlement Agreement, submitted the PSDAR well before deadline, arranged a $145 million line of credit to streamline spent fuel management, has proposed to move fuel into dry casks by as soon as 2017, and is $5 million under budget in its aggressive campaign to close down non-radiological systems and buildings.

The Vermont Energy Partnership ( is a diverse group of more than 90 business, labor, and community leaders committed to finding clean, affordable and reliable electricity solutions. Its mission is to educate policy makers, the media, businesses, and the general public about why electricity is imperative for prosperity, and about the optimal solutions to preserve and expand our electricity network. Entergy, owner of Vermont Yankee, is a member of the Vermont Energy Partnership.

Sunday, December 6, 2015

Nuclear Blogger Carnival 287, The Paris Edition

Pro-nuclear flag designed by Robert Hargraves
UN colors, world grid

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.

This week, the majority of the posts are about nuclear and Paris (COP 21), nuclear and carbon, and nuclear and climate change.
From Atomic Insights: Rod Adams

James Hansen and the Citizen's Climate Lobby have a plan to gradually add a waste disposal fee to fuels that produce CO2 when burned to produce energy. The plan uses market forces to help properly price energy alternatives so that the full cost is visible. Instead of giving the money to appointed bureaucrats to select recipients, the plan returns all collected money back to citizens in an equal amount per person.

Read the post, but pay close attention to the much better than average discussion.

Ramp-up, from Breakthrough Institute
John Dobken takes on the reasons why opponents claim that nuclear can't help with climate change.  There's "can't build them fast enough." Wrong.  Nuclear has ramped up faster than any other low-carbon source of electricity.  There's the "free-market" argument. This argument seems to be suspended when people discuss a wind ramp-up.  Dobken's well-illustrated post should be on everyone's quick-reference list for climate change issues.

Neutron Bytes: Dan Yurman

Two significant US vendors, Westinghouse and NuScale, are making serious efforts to develop the market for SMRs in the UK.
Energy Reality Project:

Post by Rick Maltese

Letter box in Paris
COP 21 and What is Missing From the Table

Solutions are missing. I make a case in a shorter than usual post about doing more than reductions. I suggest reversing CO2. After hearing James Hansen's interview by Amy Goodman on Democracy Now this is very relevant. He talks about "honest" accounting. The idea that fossil fuel companies be held accountable for the costs to environment and society by charging them or fining them for the damages created by their carbon emissions. That is a solution that gets closer to the real problem. Using words like "penalty" and "reward" are more needed. Nuclear needs to be rewarded for clean non-emitting reliable energy. Dirty fossil fuels need to be punished.

Guest post by Robert Rudolph Hasspacher

How Would Advanced Aliens Size Up Our Reluctance to Use Nuclear Energy

The title suggests that they would see our choices as foolish. Making poor choices instead of sensible choices makes us seem less advanced than we think.

It's back! Fossil fuel burning is on the rise again in New England during the winter. Nitrogen oxide pollution, sulfur dioxide pollution, and carbon emissions are rising right along with it.  Graphs from a NESCOE presentation. 

Another Link Between Alcohol and the Atom: Whiskey and Radioactivity

In a lighter mode.  Over the last several years, Gail Marcus has reported several times at Nuke Power
Talk on interesting “connections" between alcohol or food and radioactivity—particularly, ways in which one can benefit the other.  This week, she reports on a new one:  a finding that the grains left over from whiskey making may be useful for biosorption of radioactive environmental contaminants.

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Backwards to the Future: Carbon and Pollution Rise in New England

Pollution on the rise

On November 19, Heather Hunt, executive director of NESCOE, gave a presentation to the Northeastern Section meeting of the American Nuclear Society.   The presentation was titled New England Infrastructure Challenges.  Howard Shaffer and I drove down together, though it is always a bit of a struggle to drive to Boston and back again in an evening.  

In this case, the drive was well worth it.  Hunt's presentation about  proposed transmission lines, gas pipelines, and gas pipeline constraints was excellent.  As a matter of fact, you can see it for yourself. The presentation is posted online here: 

I was especially struck by one slide, showing the trends for carbon dioxide, nitrogen oxides (NOx) and sulfur dioxide (SO2). After years of lower pollution in New England, pollution trends from electricity production have reversed. Pollution from the electricity sector is on the rise. 

Slide by NESCOE, Based on EPA data
Courtesy NESCOE
Why is Pollution Rising?

The title of the talk was New England Infrastructure Challenges.  That is also the answer to the question.

For a while, pollution was falling as gas made more power and coal made less.  But then the gas constraints hit: there just isn't enough gas available for electricity production in the winter.  At that point, the grid operator pulled out all the stops to meet the demand. Coal, diesel, every fossil fuel and its brother were called into play. Some of the fossil fuel plants were called up ad hoc to meet demand, and some were part of the grid operators Winter Reliability Program, which depends on burning oil.  I describe this in a post from January 2014.

The Cold Truth on the New England Grid This Week, a High-Carbon Fuel Mix.

More pipelines for gas, and more transmission lines to Hydro Quebec, could alleviate this gas-crunch problem.  But such things take a long time to build.

However, it takes a very short time to decide to shut a nuclear plant!  Vermont Yankee and Pilgrim will no longer make clean energy for the New England grid.  Therefore, the demand for oil-fired and coal-fired and diesel-fired generation will rise during cold snaps, until all the new infrastructure can be built.

If the new infrastructure is actually built.  The number of people who will lie down in front of "fracked-gas"pipeline construction rivals the number of people who hate nuclear.  As a matter of fact, they are often the same people. I recognize some of them at meetings.

New England is going backwards to the future.

About NESCOE and about the Consumer Liaison Group of the grid operator

NESCOE  is the New England States Committee on Electricity. The important word is States.  This is a small committee, with members appointed by the Governors of the New England States. It keeps track of electricity issues as the states would perceive them.  I think NESCOE is a very good idea. Without it, the states would be individual and alone in trying to understand the implications of ISO-NE decisions. (ISO-NE is the grid operator.)  Heather Hunt is the Executive Director of NESCOE.  I appreciate her courtesy in sending me the slide above.

As it happens, I will see Hunt again tomorrow.  I am a member of the Coordinating Committee of the Consumer Liaison Group (CLG) for ISO-NE.  We are meeting in Boston tomorrow, and Hunt will be on the panel at our meeting.

Attendance is free: I encourage you to attend.  The subject is Transmission Planning in New England.    I share the announcement below, and you can find more information at the CLG web page for the meeting.

Sunday, November 29, 2015

Books for Climate, Books for your Nuclear Family

Shopping and Climate Conferences

Now that Thanksgiving is in the rear view window, it is time to go shopping.  Meanwhile, the long-awaited Climate Conference (COP21) begins tomorrow in Paris.  Therefore, I will take the opportunity to encourage my readers to read two excellent books about nuclear power and climate change.  And to give the books as gifts, too!

These books address two fundamental questions of our time:

  • How can we stop climate change?
  • Why is the so-called "environmental" movement so anti-nuclear?

Climate Gamble

Climate Gamble: Is Anti-Nuclear Activism Endangering Our Future?
Raul Partanen and Janne M. Korhanan

I first heard of this book by two young Finnish authors when they were running an Indiegogo campaign. They were raising money to give away free copies of their pro-nuclear book at the COP21 Climate conference in Paris. As you can see by this press release, they raised enough money to distribute 5000 copies of this book in Paris.  A pre-run of the French edition will be available for COP21.

Read this book to learn exactly why the climate needs nuclear energy and exactly how the nuclear opponents tell straight-up falsehoods to claim that nuclear plants create as much carbon-dioxide as gas-fired plants.  Learn when the anti-nuclear groups started saying this about nuclear power plants, and who said it first.

 Buy the book. Prepare to be shocked.


Greenjacked! The derailing of environmental action on climate change
Geoff Russell

Geoff Russell is an environmental activist and an animal activist in Australia.  In this book, Russell compares the carcinogenic properties of radiation with those of obesity, red meat, and alcohol--all are far more potent cancer-causing agents than radiation is.  (Note, on the cover, the woman with a sign saying "But what about the waist!"  That is indeed the question.)

This brilliantly written book illustrates DNA repair mechanisms, compares radiation and smoke, describes the death of Shoreham and the rise of oil-fired electricity, and catalogs the "deadly failure of governance" at the Fukushima evacuation. As Russell describes the current situation: a rich "fabric of mythology" tightly binds nuclear weapons and nuclear energy.

The Greenjacking of the environmental movement is having severe effects on our health, and the health of our planet.

Buy the book. And read the excellent article and comments about Greenjacked in Brave New Climate.

Note:  I am painfully aware of many excellent pro-nuclear books that I have not mentioned here. I reviewed these two books in particular because they will help people learn about climate-and-nuclear in time for the newspaper articles about COP21.

 Buy both books, read both books, and give them as gifts, too!

Thursday, November 26, 2015

Asthma Society of Canada testimony in favor of relicensing Bruce Power

Thankful for Nuclear Power

Everyone can be thankful for the existence of nuclear power. Nuclear provides great quantities of electricity without simultaneously providing dirty air.

In this video, the Asthma Society of Canada testifies in favor of relicensing Bruce Power nuclear plants.    In the first part of the video, Mr. Oliphant of the Asthma Society describes the prevalence and health consequences of asthma. The Asthma Society used to focus on helping people manage asthma through medication. It is now taking a more pro-active role by helping society minimize asthma. The Asthma Society encourages technologies that do not lead to dirty air or global warming.

Starting at 5:50 (five minutes, fifty seconds) Oliphant describes how energy choices have health effects, and these effects must be considered. Ontario phased out coal generation: they could not have done this without nuclear power.  The last half of the presentation is a strong message of gratitude for the clean air gifts of nuclear power!

Enjoy the video. Enjoy the turkey. Enjoy clean power from nuclear plants!

We all have much to be thankful for.  I will also say:

We nuclear advocates especially have a lot to be thankful for. We know that we are making the world a better place.

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

SMRs in Washington State and Washington D.C.

Dramatic slide of Design Simplification for NuScale SMRs
Components in gray are needed for full-size reactor, but not for NuScale
Northwest Clean Energy blog (the blog of Energy Northwest) just published Talking Nuclear Energy from Washington State to Washington D.C.  

Full disclosure here: I wrote the post.

Frankly, it was a pleasure to write this post, because it is basically hopeful about the future. It discusses meetings in Washington D.C. and Washington State. The NuScale Power SMR was featured at both meetings, and Energy Northwest is part of the SMR initiative.

Here's a brief description of the two meetings, in the two Washingtons:
  • The recent Nuclear Summit in Washington D.C. had some good news about how the Department of Energy and the National Laboratories will assist Small Modular Reactors to come to market.   
  • The Washington State Legislature established a Task Force to encourage the possible role of Washington State in manufacturing Small Modular Reactors.  At a recent meeting, NuScale described progress in designing and building its reactor. A slide from that presentation is featured above.

Writing this post was a pleasant change for me. I like to report on good news and positive attitudes toward nuclear energy.  I get tired of reporting on Vermont's seemingly endless negative news and negative attitudes.   As we get closer to Thanksgiving, I urge you to enjoy reading the post at the Northwest Clean Energy blog.  As a matter of fact, explore other posts on that blog: there are many upbeat posts and many fine contributors.

I am grateful that nuclear energy has a bright future in the Northwest.  I wish it had a bright future locally, too.

Saturday, November 14, 2015

Closing Pilgrim Will Zap Environment and Grid: Guest Post by Professor Gilbert Brown

Professor Gilbert Brown
Premature Closings

The premature closing of nuclear power plants such as Pilgrim harms our nation’s economy, energy security and the environment.

Why is this happening? It is not because of safety, but rather a blatant skewing of energy markets, that until just a few years ago leaned on the reliability of nuclear power plants. Today there is the short-sighted view that mandated solar and wind and the current windfall from fracked natural gas will work. Facts and history speak otherwise.

Although natural gas is cheap now, it is not likely to stay that way for long. Natural gas has a history of price volatility. Increasing New England’s reliance on gas for electricity generation — now at the 75 percent mark and rising — is nonsensical, especially in winter in a region where gas is used for heating.

And the fact remains that, although wind and solar have seen their costs fall, without serious subsidies their overall costs are more expensive per kilowatt hour than nuclear (and certainly gas). Furthermore there isn’t enough solar and wind to replace large nuclear plants and, because they only operate intermittently, there will surely be more fossil burning.

Correcting market abnormalities in 20 states where nuclear plants are at financial risk may be necessary to ensure that they are not closed early. Right now, the problem with the electricity market is that no value is placed on nuclear power’s role in reducing carbon emissions or its contribution to ensuring electricity reliability and energy security. Most troubling, the loss of nuclear power means that it will become more difficult — in some cases, impossible — for states to comply with EPA carbon-reduction rules, jeopardizing the administration’s climate goals at the very time when the world is looking to U.S. leadership in the battle against global warming.

Shortsighted Choices

This is really shortsighted. There is no avoiding the fact that more fossil fuels will be used for power production to compensate for the loss of nuclear power. Renewables and improvements in energy efficiency alone won’t meet energy requirements. And what about the rising popularity of electric cars? Where will the “clean” electricity come from to recharge their batteries?

Renewables like solar and wind power are intermittent sources that rely on carbon-emitting natural gas as a backup fuel when the weather isn’t cooperating. Moreover, wind requires 360 times as much land area to produce the same amount of electricity as a nuclear plant, and solar requires 75 times the land area.

Last year 3,600 megawatts of nuclear-generating capacity was closed down, compared with 4,500 megawatts of coal power. Among the shuttered nuclear plants were San Onofre’s two units in southern California and the Crystal River plant in Florida. Those three plants had been inoperable due to required multibillion-dollar repairs and were deemed no longer commercially viable. But since then, decisions have been made to close four operating nuclear plants — Kewaunee in Wisconsin, Vermont Yankee, Pilgrim and most recently, FitzPatrick in New York.

With climate change concerns rising every day, the last thing we need is a trend that makes them rise even faster. Yet that is what will happen when zero-carbon-emitting nuclear plants are prematurely retired. In Massachusetts the Pilgrim plant accounts for 79 percent of the emission-free electricity and is the only clean-air source that can produce large amounts of base-load power around the clock. The loss of Pilgrim’s 677 megawatts of generating capacity is not good for consumers, energy security or the environment.

Gilbert J. Brown is a professor and director of the nuclear engineering program at the University of Massachusetts Lowell. He is an active member of the American Nuclear Society, and recently served in the State Department in the Visiting Scholars program. This program enables specialists in the physical sciences to support State Department activities in  arms control, non-proliferation, and disarmament.

This article first appeared on November 4, 2015, in the Boston Herald. 

Thursday, November 12, 2015

A Reasonable Look at Emergency Planning for Vermont Yankee: Guest post by Howard Shaffer

A Draft Plan

Shaffer speaking in favor of VY
PSB hearing, November 2012
Vermont's Nuclear Decommissioning Citizen's Advisory Panel (NDCAP) has written a draft plant for future emergency planning in the area around Vermont Yankee.  You can read the plan here, or I can summarize it. (This summary is simply my opinion.)

The mountains may crumble, Gibraltar may tumble, but Entergy providing money for emergency planning for the towns around Vermont Yankee---that money must be here to stay.

Howard Shaffer wrote a very reasonable comment on the plan, which I am happy to post as a guest post.  You can read more about NDCAP in the notes at the bottom of this post.

Shaffer Comments on the Draft Plan

Comments on the
Draft Advisory Opinion on
Continued Funding for the Radiological Response Plan
by the 
Vermont Nuclear Decommissioning Citizens Advisory Panel


The Emergency plan’s purpose is to provide for public safety during the decommissioning period.  This draft of a discussion to justify continued funding of a plan outside the plant fence appears to have been influenced by emotional concerns about the Emergency Plan used during the now completed operational period.  This draft has not sufficiently focused on the radical difference in the potential hazard that occurs after the energy releasing chain reaction in the fuel ceases.

While the plant is in operation and fission is on-going, fission products are continually produced.  After the plant is no longer operating, fission products are no longer produced, and the existing fission products decay.  The nature of any radioactive decay is that it continually decreases with time. The change from operating to not-operating is not reflected well in this draft plan.

The draft should take into account the continual decrease in the potential hazard, and the implications of the continual decrease of energy release.  The slowing of the energy release means that the any hazard from a  release of radioactive material from any damaged fuel pellets would take longer and longer to develop as time goes by, after the plant has ceased operation. The time also allows for intervening action by responders to interrupt and contain the release.

The draft seems to focus only on protective action outside the plant boundary, and forgets that inside the boundary there will always be a plan, and there would be protective and intervening action inside the boundary.

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission’s approach takes into account both the continually decreasing potential hazard and the continually increasing length of time available for intervening action by responders.  The Commission’s approach recognizes that an Emergency Response Plan will always be needed, but for a smaller and smaller area.   The area of concern that might be affected by any release shrinks with time until it is all inside the plant boundary.

The draft does not seem to recognize the shrinkage when it contemplates a plan outside the boundary until there is no radioactive material on site.  The draft uses a potential public exposure limit that is so low that it unrealistic.  No number for the avoided exposure is given.

Problems in the Draft

The draft states that “Nevertheless, all drained structures, systems and components across the entire site are contaminated with layers of solid radioactive material …”  All?  That will be news to the employees who worked in the offices, warehouses, and operated and maintained the many secondary plant systems and equipment. Many systems and parts of the plant are not contaminated.  For example the systems handling river water, electric power, and diesels etc.  Understanding which things are contaminated and which are not is fundamental to a safe and economical decommissioning.

The draft is concerned with “radiation exposure” to the public as it should be, but does not seem clear on the fact that what this means is “excess radiation exposure.”  That is, exposure that can be controlled or avoided in excess of the natural amount of exposure everyone gets.  The draft refers to the State of Vermont’s limit of 25 mrem per year. This limit is exceeded in the State House, in the corners, by the radiation coming from the granite blocks.  Locally we all get 28 mrem per year at 0-1000 feet above sea level from cosmic radiation (Denver = 52 mrem per year).  We all get on average another 200 mrem per year from Radon gas in the air. Medical diagnostic procedures account for some exposure (CT Abdominal scan 800 mrem; I had two in 90 days).  The draft should be clear on what exposures might be if there is an accident releasing radioactive material any time during decommissioning.

The draft should have considered the physical sources of the potential radioactive material.  The main source is the used fuel pellets.  These pencil eraser sized ceramic pellets are in sealed metal tubes.  The tubes make up fuel bundles and the bundles will eventually all be in the sealed metal cans, inside the concrete shield chimneys, which are the outer layer of the Dry Cask assemblies. If an accident occurred that resulted in some fuel pellets being scattered on the ground, they would continue to be air cooled, and remain solid. Unlike, say, coal ash, these pellets are highly sintered ceramic. They would probably break into shards, not dissolve into dust.  All the structure of the plant and its equipment are a much smaller source of hazard.

While used fuel remains in the Fuel Pool in the reactor building there is some slight risk that loss of pool water could eventually lead to a release, due to used fuel damage from overheating and possible fire.  Water loss is not likely. The Fuel Pool has a heavy stainless steel liner designed and tested for zero leakage.  It is set in the middle of the Reactor Building, surrounded on the sides and bottom by thick reinforced concrete walls and floors. The top of the pool is open to the Refueling Floor, but there are many feet of water above the used fuel.  The refueling floor is surrounded by the heavy steel beams that support the overhead crane and roof.  This structure and the crane would break an aircraft impacting the building.  The pool has no drain line, and attached lines have siphon breakers.  There are several sources of water for normal and emergency filling.

Opponents of the plant cite it as being a GE Mark I style, as are the plants at the Fukushima- Daiichi site. Those pools survived the earthquake of 2011.  The unit 4 building had no fuel in the reactor, and much fuel in the fuel pool.   After being hit by the tsunami, the Unit 4 building settled several inches and tilted a little. The used and new fuel in that pool stayed in the pool, was never uncovered, and has now all been safely removed.  This demonstrates the robustness of the pool and building.


This draft  has two serious problems: lack of numerical values for expected off-site emissions, which could be compared to regulatory limits, and lack of understanding of the process of radioactive decay: radioactive materials get less radioactive as time goes by.  However, it is a start on a document that could be used in the decision making process.

Howard Shaffer  PE (nuclear) VT, NH, MA, IL
November 11, 2015


The Citizen's Advisory Panel and the Draft Emergency Plan

When Vermont Yankee closed down, Vermont dissolved its Vermont State Nuclear Advisory Board VSNAP.  This panel's meetings (IMHO) had become room rentals for people to get together and bash Vermont Yankee.

When the plant announced it would close, Vermont started convened a new panel, the Nuclear Decommissioning Citizen's Advisory Panel, NDCAP.  The new panel includes members from New Hampshire and Massachusetts, and members from Vermont Yankee and the IBEW.  In terms of membership, NDCAP is clearly a more representative group than the old VSNAP. You can read its membership list here.

Howard Shaffer

Howard Shaffer has attended almost every meeting of this panel.  He acknowledges that he was late in submitting his comment on the draft plan: he missed a deadline for commenting.  That means his comments may not get into the Department of Public Service public record.

His comments are now in the public record, right here at this blog.

Shaffer has contributed many guest posts to this blog. One of my favorite posts is Where's the Magic Switch, about power and pricing on the grid. Howard Shaffer and I both received Presidential Citations from the American Nuclear Society in 2012. Photo below courtesy of American Nuclear Society.

Howard Shaffer, Meredith Angwin,
ANS president Eric Loewen

Monday, November 9, 2015

Why You Can't Trust the State of Vermont to Oversee the Decommissioning Fund

Crystal ball
The State Foresees the Future and Provides Insults

The State of Vermont insists that it needs to have oversight of Entergy's Vermont Yankee Decommissioning fund. They have often asked for a "seat at the table" when fund disbursements are planned. The state recently petitioned the NRC, asking the NRC to investigate Entergy's finances, and whether or not Entergy would have sufficient funds to decommission Vermont Yankee.  NRC turned down that petition, but the state is back at it.

On Friday, November 6,  groups within the state government (the Attorney General, the Department of Public Service) along with Green Mountain Power, brought a new petition. This new petition to the NRC attempts to limit usage of the Vermont Yankee Decommissioning Fund.

While the earlier petition pretty much asked for an investigation, this new petition can best be described as insulting.  Here's a quote from the petition, according to VTDigger's State Ramps Up Pressure on NRC to Review Yankee Spending:

"Considered together, Entergy’s actions threaten to undermine the radiological decommissioning work that is the very purpose of the fund,” the document says. “Unless the commission intervenes, Entergy will divert hundreds of millions of dollars from their intended purpose.”

Wow.  "Entergy will divert." Crystal ball time!  Actually, what Entergy will do is that Entergy will follow all the rules and the guidelines of the NRC. But the state doesn't like that. The state could write: "Hey, NRC, we don't like your guidelines and rules." Instead, the state leads off with an insult directed at Entergy. (Vermont Business Magazine also has a lengthy article on this new petition.)

I Review the Past and Hope the State is Foiled

I found this "[Entergy] will divert millions of dollars" funny, because I have a sick sense of humor sometimes.

Let's say I was required to rank Vermont's ability to oversee projects: say I had to rank Vermont's project oversight on a scale from one to ten.  I would give the state a negative-five rating.  Vermont wants to oversee how Entergy spends its funds?  Is this a joke?

You don't have to dig very deep to come up with huge examples of inadequate project oversight by the state of Vermont. I will give a short list, along with one or two links for each example. Each of these situations has a long and well-documented history.  I could be here for two days, inserting links.

Lousy Project Management by the State of Vermont

Vermont Health Connect

This is the big one. The Shumlin administration wanted to bring single-payer to Vermont, and so it didn't sign up with the federal government for an Affordable Care website. Other states obtained and customized the federal website, and got their Affordable Care websites going fairly quickly, and at reasonable cost.  Vermont decided to build its own software, which didn't work and cost over $200 million.  At this point, we are trapped because, after all, who else can maintain this custom software?

Costs go to $200 Million.  VTDigger.
Trapped in Expensive Quicksand.  John McClaughry of Ethan Allen Institute.

Vermont Public Service Board Commissioners
Margaret Cheny, Chairman James Volz, Sarah Hofmann
Vermont Gas Systems Pipeline

This is big, also.  Basically, Vermont Gas Systems (part of Gaz Metro) proposed a pipeline that was supposed to cost $80 million dollars.  Pipeline technology is comparatively straight-forward: this is not a first-of-a-kind project. The estimated costs have now risen to $150 million, to be paid by Vermont ratepayers.  This cost increase would have put the state Public Service Board  (which approved the project) in a bind where they might have to take some action.  Instead, the administration and Gaz Metro did a de facto end run around the Public Service Board, signing a Memorandum of Understanding and getting the Public Service Board off the hook. AARP is very upset about the effect on ratepayers.

AARP accuses Vermont of End Run in MOU with state. VTDigger

Entergy funds for Windham County Development

This is not so big, but somewhat indicative. In its agreement with the state concerning the last months of Vermont Yankee's operation, Entergy promised to send the state $2 million per year, for five years (total $10 million) for Windham County economic development.  The state has received $4 million of these funds, and I believe is due to receive another $2 million sometime in the next two months.

The state is sitting on most of these funds. So far, it has awarded around $800,000. The Governor makes the final decision on all awards. The Governor says he didn't award the money because the proposals just weren't good enough. If I lived in Windham County, I might find this insulting.

Inadequate project management by the state? Or inadequate proposals? Or the state being comfortable by keeping an extra few million in the bank for a while?  Whatever reason the state has for not-releasing those funds, the funds are currently not-growing the economy of Windham County.

State Reboots Application Process for Entergy Money. Times Argus

My request to the NRC: Please don't let the state of Vermont be the project managers  for the decommissioning funds.

End Note: Project Management and me

I have years of experience and interest in project management. I managed small projects at Acurex, back in the late 70s. In the early 80s, I joined the Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI), where my title was "Project Manager."  At EPRI, first I managed projects in the renewable division, and later in the nuclear division.  I left EPRI to go into business with a friend. The name of the business was Crescent Project Management.  I think it is still going, but my friend and I went our separate ways, business-wise. Then I started Fourth Floor Databases, Inc. As president of that company, I competed for, won, and managed many projects for utilities. I closed the company after eleven years.  Meeting a payroll in a small business is very stressful.

Nevil Shute
More recently, I have been very interested in the author Nevil Shute. He was a working engineer, a business owner, and an author. In September of this year, I gave a talk at the Nevil Shute Society conference in Oxford. All the talks at the Conference are posted here, and here is a direct link to the audio for my talk: Nevil Shute for Project Managers

Thursday, November 5, 2015

Pilgrim, Fitzpatrick, Rod Adams, and The Boxer

The Double Shock

Yesterday, Rod Adams wrote about the double shock of Pilgrim and Fitzpatrick closing.  It was a terrible set of events. We need every nuclear plant to keep operating.  We need them for their clean reliable power, for their ability to supply power without greenhouse gases and nitrogen oxides, for their ability to supply power during polar vortexes and other fossil-fuel supply crunches.

Adams said this better than I can, in the post
Deeply troubled by FitzPatrick and Pilgrim announcements. We need their clean electricity production to continue

A long time ago, I did a post: I am not Spock, at the American Nuclear Society blog. In this post, I wrote that I am not Spock.  I am a person with emotions.  I am committed to nuclear energy for the sake of my children and grandchildren.  This is an emotional commitment, as well as a logical energy choice.  I am having a deep emotional reaction, a reaction of grief, to the closing of these two plants.

The Serenity Prayer

Adams post includes his thoughts about the Serenity Prayer:

God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change,
The courage to change the things I can,
And the wisdom to know the difference.

I value the serenity prayer, but I don't completely follow it.  If I try to change something, and I don't succeed, was I therefore unwise? If I tried to make something good happen, but it didn't happen, was I lacking in wisdom, because the thing I tried to accomplish ended up being a "thing I cannot change"?

On the other hand, when a friend called two days ago to tell me that her cancer was no longer in remission, I clung to the serenity prayer. "I cannot change this. I cannot change this.  I can only accept it.  I can only do one thing: keep being her friend, whatever that will mean in the future."

Showing up and paying attention

This is the mantra that I use about my activism. For some issues, I find it more powerful than the serenity prayer.

Part of my comment on Adams blog post:

I personally find this mantra more helpful:
– Show up
– Pay attention
– Tell the truth
– Don’t be attached to the consequences.

In this mantra, when the consequences are not what I would like, I tell myself “Well, I did the first three steps” as opposed to “I can’t tell the difference, can I?” And I can say: “Oh well, the fourth one is always the hardest, but I did the first three.”

The Boxer

I decided to head this post with Simon and Garfunkel's The Boxer. I have been listening to it, somewhat compulsively, in the past few days.

The Boxer "carries a reminder," he carries a scar, from every blow that hurt him. He has been hurt so badly that he wanted to quit, hurt so badly that he said he would quit.

But The Boxer doesn't quit.

The last line is:
"But the fighter still remains."

Thank you

Thank you to Rod Adams for his posts and his courage.  Thank you to everyone who works in the nuclear industry, giving us clean power and clean air.  And thank you to everyone who defends the industry.

The fighter still remains.

Sunday, November 1, 2015

Updated: Nuclear Blogger Carnival 285, 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.

I am happy to update it with new posts…and unhappy to update it with the news that the Fitzpatrick plant will close.

Nuke Power Talk -- Gail Marcus

Scary Energy Scenarios: My Real Fears on Halloween.

At Nuke Power Talk, Gail Marcus reflects on the Halloween holiday and conjures up futures that are scarier than ghosts and goblins.  When short-sighted policies and misinformed views dominate energy decisions, these futures can go from being scary to--being scary and being real.

Salaries by Degree Field (Update---new post)

In another blog from Gail Marcus at Nuke Power Talk, she reports on the results of a salary survey by academic degree field.  Engineering fields in general ranked high, and nuclear engineering was #2 for mid-career alumni out of 319 academic fields surveyed.

Energy Reality Project--Rick Maltese

Educating a new nuclear workforce: Guest post by Beth Kelly (Update--new post0

This is a post about filling new nuclear jobs in a hypothetical growing market.  However, unless you assume that all nuclear plants in the country will close within ten years (an unwarranted assumption), you must notice that about half the workers at nuclear plants will retire within ten years.  And that leads to job opportunities for younger workers.

Audio version of Chapter 8 of Maltese's book: Energy Reality, a Necessary Renaissance (Update--new post)

Rick Maltese is writing a book he titles Energy Reality: A Necessary Renaissance. He has been posting his chapters at patreon, a crowd-funding website.  This is the first audio sample.

Atomic Insights-- Rod Adams

Several important nuclear energy developments from the Westinghouse press office

Westinghouse announced that the first two  reactor coolant pumps for their AP1000 reactor have passed all qualification tests and should arrive at the Sanmen site in China for installation by Dec 31, 2015.

The next day, Westinghouse announced that they are buying the nuclear plant construction assets of CB&I, their partner at Plant Vogtle and VC Summer.

An excellent discussion of the facts and implications, and of course, a very lively comment stream.

 Yes Vermont Yankee--Meredith Angwin (update, bad news)

Ginna continues operation, surcharges in context, and Fitzpatrick

The Ginna nuclear power plant has been received some financial relief, and will keep operating for at least another 18 months. Sadly, Entergy announced today that the Fitzpatrick plant will close (the post include links to articles about Fitzpatrick.)  In this blog post, Angwin compares the financial relief to Ginna to other electricity surcharges, including Vermont's own local "Efficiency Vermont" charges (much higher than the Ginna per-household costs) and the cost of proposed carbon taxes.

ANS Nuclear Cafe--Ted Besmann

The Power of Nuclear Energy

In this post, Besmann describes some of the economic hazards that currently face the U.S. fleet of nuclear plants.  The EPA proposed clean power rule gives less than 6% credit to emissions reduction from nuclear plants, for example. At the same time, the EPA claims that it would be worth paying  an extra $12 to $17 dollars per ton of CO2 that is not emitted.  But this monetary value is theoretical and not available to nuclear plants.

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Update: Fitzpatrick to close.Ginna Continues Operation, Surcharges in Context, and Fitzpatrick

Ginna Nuclear Power Station
Update: Entergy announces Fitzpatrick closing

Fitzpatrick now scheduled to close in 2016 or 2017.  Announcement was this morning.  Two links:

Entergy press release article

Ginna gets some relief

Ginna Nuclear Generating Station, in upstate New York, was struggling with some of the same issues that are causing Entergy's Fitzpatrick plant to be at risk.

If Ginna closed down, there might be reliability issues on the grid. Therefore,  Ginna was recently given 18 months of financial relief to keep it operating. Ginna is being helped by a surcharge on utility bills: the surcharge lasts from now till March 2017. The surcharge will give Ginna $15.42 million extra per month, in payment for its role in grid reliability.  This charge will cost about $2 per month per customer, in upstate New York.

References: Deal reached on fate of Western New York nuclear facility at Poltico New York (October 23), and Settlement reached in New York to keep the Ginna nuclear plant running at Utility Dive (September 16).

The possibility of this type of positive resolution (for the grid and for the plant) is a good reason to

Sign the petition to keep Fitzpatrick operating! 

If you live in New York, contact your state legislator and your congressman, and urge them to keep Fitzpatrick operating. 

What about the ratepayer?

Maybe this relief is great for the grid and the plant, but what about the ratepayer?  What about that
Fracking equipment
at wellhead
$2.00 per month?

I'm not crazy about more costs to the ratepayer.  If I thought that increasing costs for the ratepayer was a good thing, I would join one of the "environmental" groups that believe electricity should be more expensive--in order to force people to use less electricity.  Instead, I am proud to be on the Coordinating Committee for the Consumer Liaison Group at ISO-NE.  I want to look out for the ratepayer.

With some hesitation, therefore, I share my opinion on the Ginna settlement. I think, in the long run, this settlement is good for the ratepayer, because without it, most of the pricing structure in New York would be held hostage to the fluctuating price of natural gas.

 If the utilities were not "deregulated," any decent utility would want a mix of types of plants on its grid. This mix would be a hedge against sudden jumps in prices for one fuel, sudden jumps in regulatory burden for another type of power plant, etc.

Now that we are "deregulated," the plant that is cheapest today can act as if it were going to be cheapest forever.  Other plants will close down, out-competed---but perhaps only for five years. Then when the once-cheapest fuel type becomes more expensive, the rate-payer is hung out to dry.

It takes many years to site, permit and build a power plant.  Meanwhile, in a single-fuel grid, the grid and the rate-payer have no choices.

Surcharges and Fitzpatrick

I decided to do a quick comparison of some local surcharges on electricity.  I will do this comparison in one-year units..

Ginna: $15.4 million per month, twelve months, $184 million/year, $2 per month per household, $24 a year per household.

Efficiency Vermont.  This utility has a visible surcharge on every Vermont householder's electricity bill.  It charges more than 1 cent per kWh, for all Vermont households.  For an average user (600 kWh/month) the surcharge is be about $7 per month or $84 a year per household.

Households pay this amount, and so do businesses.  IBM (now GlobalFoundries) rebelled, and the legislature enacted SMEEP for large businesses. Large business who make their own efficiency improvements can opt-out of Efficiency Vermont payments, by way of SMEEP. However, only GlobalFoundries qualifies for SMEEP.

Efficiency Vermont helps Vermonters insulate their houses, save energy, etc.  Unfortunately, in practice, this means that Efficiency Vermont collects surcharges from the many, and gives rebates to the few.  (What, me worry? I was one of the few. Efficiency Vermont  helped pay to insulate my house.)

Efficiency Vermont has been controversial, to say the least. Two examples:
Op-ed by Andrew Rudin:  Efficiency Vermont not so efficient.
Vermont Public Radio story: House brings down budget axe on Efficiency Vermont.

Carbon Tax: There is a proposed carbon tax in Vermont, which would start at $10 per ton of carbon dioxide and rise to $100 a ton.  This would eventually lead to a gasoline tax of $0.88 per gallon. This  tax is only proposed, of course.  Still, it gives an idea of what Vermont legislators are thinking nowadays.  (The article about the tax includes 200 comments.)  Meanwhile, an op-ed In Favor of a Carbon Pollution Tax was written by two people who identify themselves with a local anti-nuclear group. They support the carbon tax proposal.

In context

I am going to stop now.  I don't want this to be a treatise on every surcharge on the local grid. However, in context, it is clear that a surcharge for Fitzpatrick nuclear power is likely to be:
  • small (compared to Efficiency Vermont or to carbon taxes)
  • fair (everyone gets the benefit of stable prices on the grid, as opposed to some people get house insulation and some people get only higher electric bills)
  • controversial (no surprise here)


Sign the petition to keep Fitzpatrick operating! 

If you live in New York, contact your state legislator and your congressman, and urge them to keep Fitzpatrick operating. 

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Public Service Commissioner: Vermont Green Energy Plan Not About Global Warming. Guest post by Bruce Parker

By Bruce Parker  /   October 23, 2015

As Vermont races to become the nation’s first green-energy economy, the head of the Public Service Department says the state’s renewable energy plan is about economic matters, not global warming.

On Wednesday, the Vermont Public Service Department completed the third of five public hearings for the state’s 2015 Comprehensive Energy Plan. The 380-page document, set to be completed and adopted by Jan. 1, charts a course for Vermont to get 90 percent of its energy from renewables by 2050.

While Vermonters are struggling to see the benefit in siting hundreds of utility-scale solar and wind projects in neighborhoods and atop mountain ridgelines, the benefit most commonly associated with embracing green energy — combating global warming — is conspicuously absent from Vermont’s plan.

“I disagree with the characterization that the reason we’re doing this is to try and improve global warming,” Chris Recchia, commissioner of the Public Service Department, told Vermont Watchdog.

“It is certainly a byproduct of it, and a help, but primarily why we’re doing it is to have stable energy pricing and really secure energy resources that are renewable in our state.”

Recchia, appointed by Gov. Peter Shumlin in 2013 to lead the department responsible for regulating energy development, said Vermont is too small to make a difference in the nation’s carbon footprint. As result, the commissioner says Vermont needs to embrace an all-renewable-energy future to have a strong economy, a stable energy supply and stable energy pricing.

“If everybody else in the United States and around the world did what we’re doing, it would have a tremendous impact on climate change. The problem is we can only do what we can do,” he said.

Since Shumlin made renewable energy a top priority of the state, towns have found themselves fighting green-energy companies eager to profit from taxpayer subsidies and regulation-free land use policies.

Swanton, which is battling a proposal from Swanton Wind LLC to construct seven 500-foot wind turbines on a local ridgeline, has scheduled a Nov. 17 townwide vote to give residents a say in the matter.

“We’re definitely against it. The Selectboard, we do not support this project. We are for renewable energy if it’s the right thing for our communities, but this is not the right thing for our communities,” Swanton Selectboard Chair Dan Billado told Vermont Watchdog.

“These towers are 100 feet or more taller than any turbines in New England — they’re 499 feet. That equates to 50-story structures on a ridgeline that’s already a 345-foot ridgeline above the lake. Tell me anywhere in Vermont where we have 50-story structures.”

On the year’s windy days, the project will provide power to an estimated 7,800 homes. Despite that benefit, Billado said people in the town are worried about the project’s negative effect on wildlife, public health, water quality, property values and aesthetics.

“We already know that windmills kill birds and bats. It’s devastating on that, not to mention the rest of the wild animals — deer, bear, coon, fox, you name it,” he said. “It drives them away. They say they’ll come back, but nobody can give us an answer when.”

At the town’s Tuesday night Selectboard meeting, more than 50 residents met with Recchia to express concerns about the turbines. According to Billado, when the board asked for a show of hands to see how many people opposed the project, all but five people threw up their hands.

“The five people for it were Mr. Belisle, his wife, his lawyer, and, I believe, his sister and brother-in-law that were there — they’re the developers.”

Billado said the vote could have as big a turnout as the Oct.1 vote in Irasburg, which saw residents fill Town Hall to overflowing to vote 274-9 against 500-foot windmills on the Kidder Hill ridgeline west of the village center. Although non-binding, such townwide votes send a loud message that developers need to go someplace else.

RELATED: Revolt: Vermont town votes 274-9 against giant wind turbines

Vermont Watchdog asked Recchia if towns could be expected to sacrifice their landscapes for a plan
Chris Recchia
that offers negligible environmental benefits and significant environmental damage.

“It is not a huge sacrifice compared to what the people of West Virginia have been dealing with for 100 years in terms of coal mining and mountaintop removal and a variety of other things. It just is not the same scale,” he said.

For environmentally minded Vermonters, Recchia’s perspectives may seem out of touch.

“To say, ‘OK, it’s really about having stable energy prices; it isn’t about having some sort of impact — even local — on global climate change,’ you’re missing the boat with me,” said Michael Keane, a Selectboard member in the Town of Bennington.

“Prices are always going to go up and down. There’s not going to be any absolute control of prices. … If all we’re thinking of is stable prices, we’ve let ourselves be horse-traded in sort of a Wild West situation.”

The “Wild West” in Bennington includes a plan to clear-cut 27 acres of forest for a two-plot solar farm in the Apple Hill residential area along Route 7, within eyeshot of the town’s welcome center.

The project’s developer, New York City-based Allco Renewable Energy, angered residents when the CEO criticized a Bennington woman who decided to intervene against the project due to aesthetic and procedural concerns. In 2010, the CEO himself campaigned to stop an offshore wind farm from being sited in Nantucket Sound near his summer home in Martha’s Vineyard.

In August, the Bennington Selectboard voted against the arrays due to “the inevitable damage to environmental, historical, safety, visual, and aesthetics of the surroundings.” Two weeks ago, board members sent the Public Service Board a letter saying its decisions “appeared to ride roughshod” over the concerns of the people of Bennington.

Recchia may be listening to towns’ complaints. He said he would oppose “random applications being submitted by developers that don’t have any relationship to what towns and communities want.” He also said he would work to help residents “be part of the solution and really engage in the process.”

Going forward, Recchia said the department plans to enlist all regional planning commissions in the state to conduct smart energy planning with communities in the upcoming year.

Swanton needs answers sooner rather than later, according to Billado.

“When they start blasting ridgelines, what’s that do to surrounding wells? You’re fracking the ground (and) breaking up flows of water that feed people’s wells. What’s that going to do to everybody’s drinking water? Nobody knows. They say they have to do studies,” he said.

According to Keane, if the state’s energy plan is about economic issues, Vermonters need to rethink the real benefits of moving forward.

“If we’re doing this for stable energy prices in the year 2020 or 2030, then let people know that. Let’s disabuse them of the goodwill intentions that they have to have a benefit on the environment,” he said.

“If, in fact, we are not having some sort of useful impact on the environment that we can either have bragging rights about or be thought of as a model for other political entities, then what the hell are we doing?”

Bruce Parker
This post by Bruce Parker first appeared in Vermont Watchdog, October 23, and is reprinted here by permission. Parker has frequent guest posts at this blog: his most recent guest post was Vermont town protests renewable energy credits for MA and CT.

You can reach Bruce Parker at