Some opponents of Vermont Yankee are quoted in newspaper letters and articles questioning the number of jobs at risk if Vermont Yankee closes and other benefits of the plant. A study commissioned by the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers and written by prominent state economist Richard Heaps found that 1,288 Vermont jobs, equivalent to approximately half the population of Vernon, would be lost if the plant is closed.
But instead of arguing numbers, why don’t we look at it like this: We’d be losing professional and union jobs in a state with very few career opportunities as it is – end of story.
Although it’s obvious that Vermont Yankee doesn’t emit air pollution, no smokestacks, it is sometimes mistakenly suggested that emissions related to fuel production and plant construction make nuclear power a serious air polluter. I’m tired of the ridiculous false arguments about the impact of nuclear power plants – numerous academic studies agree that nuclear “lifecycle” emissions are comparable with hydro, solar, and wind, and are much lower than natural gas, oil, and coal, the fuels Vermont will be burning for electricity if Vermont Yankee closes. Besides, onsite containment of spent fuel is not hazardous to the environment.
As for future costs of Vermont Yankee power: The plant’s owners have offered utilities rates very comparable to the much-lauded Hydro Quebec pact, but with more rate protection. These proposed rates are far lower than any instate renewable power projects. They are also cheaper on a 10-year average than the New England grid, and far more stable.
I cannot speak for the diehard critics, but I think many people would welcome such a power agreement. We could use some good economic news.