Markowitz Says Vermont Yankee Should Close In 2012

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(Host) Democratic gubernatorial candidate Deb Markowitz says she supports a new state energy plan that would close down the Vermont Yankee nuclear power plant in 2012.

Markowitz says the plant isn’t safe to operate for another 20 years.

VPR’s Bob Kinzel reports.

(Kinzel) All five of the Democratic gubernatorial candidates say they oppose the relicensing of Vermont Yankee for another 20 years.

Some of the candidates stress the lack of money for the plant’s decommissioning fund, and some argue that the cost of future power from the plant won’t be competitive with prices on the short term spot market.

Speaking on VPR’s Vermont Edition, Markowitz said her opposition is more basic: She doesn’t think the plant can operate safely for another 20 years.

(Markowitz) "I believe in safety first and when you read the news about Vermont Yankee, it seems like every month or two there’s another story about a water cooling tower crumbling, radioactive waste leaking into the Connecticut River. The challenge that we’re facing here with this question is the relicensing is for 20 years and so I don’t believe that Vermont Yankee would be safe for 20 years."

(Kinzel) Vermont Yankee accounts for about one-third of Vermont’s electrical energy needs. Markowitz says she would replace some of this power by negotiating a three-year contract with energy producers on the spot market.

(Markowitz) "If you shut down Vermont Yankee today and went out to buy energy, you could buy energy at not such a different rate than we’re paying for Vermont Yankee. So there’s clean energy. It comes from natural gas. It’s not renewables – that’s more expensive and I would be in favor of transitioning, buying energy on the market while we transition to renewables."

(Kinzel) Markowitz says she would also pursue an expanded power contract from Hydro-Quebec.

(Markowitz) "They want to bring their energy across to the New England market. We have a power line already in place across the northern part of our state. Those power lines would have to be upgraded. I admit that may be controversial. But I believe we can upgrade those lines, make a deal with Hydro Quebec that gives us a low price over a long period of time, so we have a stable base rate while we invest in Vermont renewables."

(Kinzel) Markowitz also says that she would make a greater financial commitment to energy efficiency programs because these investments are a cost effective way to help meet the state’s energy needs.

For VPR News I’m Bob Kinzel in Montpelier

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