Technicians at Vermont Yankee are preparing for the high winds and prolonged power outages expected from Hurricane Sandy.
The state’s only nuclear power plant now gets back-up power from two diesel generators and a line that feeds electricity from a nearby power dam in Vernon.
Rob William is a spokesman for Entergy Vermont Yankee. He says the plant is ready for the storm.
"We’ve taken several actions, including testing our on-site emergency diesel generators which provide station power should we loss the off-site power," he says. "We’re also topping off the diesel fuel tanks for those generators. And (we’re) also doing walk-downs of the plant to secure any equipment and material susceptible to high winds."
Williams says the plant has enough diesel fuel on hand to provide back up power for about a week. He says the generators are needed because if the plant is shutdown, pumps still have to be operated to provide cooling water to the reactor.
Next year the electricity line from the Vernon dam will no longer be available as a redundant supply of electricity. So Yankee has also asked state and federal regulators for permission to install a third diesel generator because
Sarah Hofmann is deputy commissioner of the Department of Public Service, the agency that represents the public in utility issues. She says the new generator is designed to provide a completely independent source of back-up power.
"It would have to have its own fuel source. Even though there’s a tank there with diesel oil in it feeding the first two emergency generators, this would be a different fuel source," she says. "It would have to have a separate tank."
The state supports the installation of the new generator, even though it wants to shut down the Yankee plant. Hofmann says as long as Yankee is operating, it needs to have all the equipment necessary to withstand natural disasters.