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Vermont Yankee reducing state's carbon emissions, keeping prices "low"

An independent assessment of the Vermont Yankee nuclear plant finds that the facility provides major economic and environmental benefits to Vermont and that the consequences of closing it would be significant.

In addition, the only potential solution to replace all or the vast majority of its power near term is to construct a combined cycle natural gas plant.

The effects of such a plant and the loss of Vermont Yankee include:

Statewide average retail electric prices are estimated to increase by 19 to 39 percent.

Without Vermont Yankee's power, carbon dioxide emissions, from all sources statewide, would likely increase by two million tons annually, a 100 fold or 10,000 percent increase.

Emissions of nitric oxide, a toxic substance which causes the weakening of the earth's ozone layer, would increase by 550 tons, a twofold increase from current levels.

The potential costs to Vermonters stemming from the need for pollution allowances could exceed $60 million annually for carbon dioxide and $3 million for nitric oxide. These costs would be in addition to the retail price increases.

The loss of Vermont Yankee would deprive the Vermont Clean Energy Development Fund $4-$7 million per year.

The study's author is Howard Axelrod, president and founder of Energy Strategies, Inc. of Albany, N.Y. Axelrod has been a management consultant for over 25 years and has been engaged by a wide range of energy clients, state and federal regulatory agencies, and large industrial users of energy.

Axelrod evaluated various alternatives to Vermont Yankee and the feasibility of having these power sources online by March 2012, when Vermont Yankee's current license expires.

With respect to renewable resources, Axelrod found, "There is no question that wind energy and other renewable resources will play a vital role in meeting Vermont's growing energy needs. However, it is highly unrealistic to assume that between the end of 2009 when the NRC [U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission] is expected to rule on the Vermont Yankee relicensing application, and 2012, when the original operating license expires, Vermont could add the necessary magnitude of renewable generation."

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