It's the end game for Vermont Yankee

Opponents argue that VY's capacity is only 2 percent of the total New England power grid, and will scarcely be missed. What they don't want to discuss is that the loss of regional generation requires finding replacement power from distant sources. That creates grid stability problems and possibly construction of expensive new transmission lines to move the power into the region.

The anti-nuclear activists' pipe dream of wind turbines and solar PV notwithstanding, the replacement power will largely come from coal and gas fired plants-just the kind of plants that enviros staunchly oppose because they release the carbon dioxide that they believe leads to the dreaded "climate change".

Suppose the legislature sneaks out of Montpelier in May without voting to allow VY to seek PSB approval for its continued operation. Then what?

VY operates with an 18 month fuel cycle. After 18 months online, the plant is shut down, the reactor head pulled, the spent fuel moved to a cooling pool, a new fuel load put in, the head put back on, and the plant starts a new power run. The next scheduled refueling falls in or around November.

When a refueling shutdown takes place, a new fuel load must be on site. The lead time for purchasing fuel assemblies is about five months. So VY will have to place its order in June.

But by the time the refueling is completed, the plant would have only three months to live. What company is going to spend millions of dollars on 18 months' worth of new fuel, when thanks to anti-nuclear politicians the plant would have only three months of operation left?

Unless the legislature turns around on this issue by May, and the PSB (as widely expected) issues a Certificate of Public Good by June, Entergy is almost certainly going to have to abandon VY.

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