Groups urge Shumlin to work with Legislature to allow PSB to act on Vermont Yankee’s continued operation

first_imgIn an open letter to Governor Shumlin, leading organizations representing industry, labor, and energy stakeholders today expressed concern about the closing window of opportunity to allow the Public Service Board to complete its docket on Vermont Yankee’s continued operation beyond 2012, and the serious economic consequences for Vermont if the plant is not allowed to operate under a renewed license.Absent realistic and viable alternatives for more affordable and reliable power, Associated Industries of Vermont, the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, and the Vermont Energy Partnership urged Governor Shumlin to work with the Legislature and allow the Public Service Board to complete its outstanding docket on relicensing and determine whether continued operation of Vermont Yankee is it the best interest of the state.The text of the open letter follows:An Open Letter to Governor ShumlinFebruary 3, 2011Dear Governor Shumlin:We are writing out of serious concern about the impact Vermont Yankee’s shutdown in 2012 would have on our electric rates and the resulting costincreases for Vermont employers and risks for the welfare of workingVermonters and their families.If Vermont cannot secure sufficiently reliable alternative sources of powerat a lower price than a new power purchase agreement with Vermont Yankee,the responsible action now is for the Legislature and your Administration toallow the Public Service Board to make a decision in its docket on whetherYankee’s continued operation is in the best interest of Vermont.Realistic, viable alternatives to Vermont Yankee that are more affordableand reliable are not apparent. If your Administration can identify suchalternatives, however, we urge you to do so now, because time is runningvery short for the Board to act soon enough for Yankee to continue tooperate past 2012.The new contracts with Hydro-Quebec appear competitive, but we cannot expectHQ would replace their own expiring contracts and Vermont Yankee, nor wouldit be prudent to have a single company supply such a large portion of ourelectric portfolio. Even the last public offer made by Yankee in December2009 would be highly competitive against realistic alternatives today. Withthe continued negotiations between Yankee and Vermont’s utilities sincethen, it is reasonable to expect any final agreement will be morecompetitive than the HQ deal.We cannot relegate the replacement of Vermont Yankee to the vagaries of theNew England market. Although relatively competitive with Yankee at themoment, market prices cannot be expected to remain so for 20 years, and justthe risk alone of high and unstable prices makes this an unacceptablealternative. It is also worth noting that relying on the regional marketwould undermine Vermont’s extremely low-carbon electric portfolio — a highpriority for many Vermonters.Finally, we cannot rely on Vermont Yankee operating under some form offederal preemption or related legal action — it would appear likely thatsuch a scenario could put at risk any advantageous power contracts or otherspecial benefits for Vermont.Without more affordable and reliable alternatives at hand, the consequencesof Vermont Yankee shutting down in March 2012 will be extremely grave.Vermont will face 1) increased electric rates from more expensivereplacement power than Yankee would offer, 2) increased rates from the costof projects required to shore up the electric grid’s reliability, 3)possible periods of reduced reliability if such projects are not completedin time, and 4) the loss of well over 1,000 jobs from Yankee itself,companies doing business with the plant, and other businesses facing higherelectric rates.Indeed, replacing jobs lost if Vermont Yankee shuts down appears asdifficult as finding acceptable power alternatives. Decommissioning jobs donot come close to those connected with continued operation in number,average wage, or duration. Renewable energy projects have been shown tocreate comparatively few jobs, especially beyond construction, and the costand permitting obstacles to the enormous scale of development that would benecessary to attempt to replace all the long-term jobs lost from Yankee’sclosure make this solution extremely unrealistic. Moreover, development andpower costs would only exacerbate job losses owing to increased electricrates.We understand that you and legislative leaders have long opposed thecontinued operation of Vermont Yankee. But you have also put jobs and theeconomy at the forefront of your agenda, and stated publicly that Vermontbusinesses need the most affordable and reliable power that Vermont canfind. These positions are not compatible with forcing Yankee to close ifthere are not more affordable and reliable alternatives.This might be a difficult decision for opponents of Vermont Yankee, butresponsibility for Vermont’s economy and the welfare of working Vermontersand their families is at stake. Absent better alternatives, we urge you towork with the Legislature to allow the Public Service Board to make adecision on Vermont Yankee before the clock runs out and this option islost, with serious negative consequences for decades to come.We sincerely look forward to working with you and supporting you in thiseffort.Associated Industries of VermontInternational Brotherhood of Electrical WorkersVermont Energy Partnershiplast_img

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