Shumlin Tackles New Energy Plan, Without Yankee In The Mix

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(Host) Governor Peter Shumlin says it’s critical for the state to develop a long term energy plan that doesn’t include power from Vermont Yankee after 2012.

Shumlin says the new plan is needed because he’s committed to closing the nuclear power plant down when its license expires next year.

VPR’s Bob Kinzel reports:

(Kinzel) The governor says the discovery of more tritium contamination at Vermont Yankee late last week is yet another sign of an aging facility that needs to be retired and he sees no chance that the plant’s license will be extended.

And Shumlin says he was very surprised to learn that the state’s long range energy plan counts on Vermont Yankee power for the next 20 years.

(Shumlin) "The extraordinary thing to me is that I stand here as your governor – 16 months before the shutdown date that was scheduled when we approved it 40 years ago – and state government has one plan. That’s to continue to operate it beyond its design date. There was never a second plan, which might have been: What if it is actually shut down when it was scheduled to be shut down?"

(Kinzel) The governor says his administration is working to design a new state energy plan that reflects the reality of a world without Vermont Yankee.

(Shumlin) "I sit here with my team frankly scrambling to put together a shutdown plan that should have been designed over the years. And we have some challenges. We have grid challenges, we have decommissioning challenges, we have clean up challenges, we have challenges in rates. So we’ve got multiple challenges on multiple fronts."

(Kinzel) Supporters of Vermont Yankee argue that power from the plant is needed in the next 20 years to help keep the state’s electricity costs down but Shumlin says that’s not true.

He points out that Vermont Yankee offered utilities a rate of roughly 6.2 cents per kilowatt hour for power beyond 2012 while Hydro Quebec offered an initial rate of 5.8 cents.

(Shumlin) "So we are stuck with the situation we have. But the misconception is that if we continue to run the plant we’d have cheaper power that if we didn’t and if anyone who says that knows something that Vermont utilities and I haven’t been told."

(Kinzel) The governor says he’ll also propose legislation that calls on the owners of Vermont Yankee to pay a waste storage tax after the plant shuts down. 

Shumlin says the tax is appropriate because it’s clear that high level waste will have to be stored on site for many years because the federal government has failed to construct a national storage facility.

For VPR News, I’m Bob Kinzel in Montpelier.

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