EUA Requests Economic Impact Study of Vermont Yankee Nuclear Power Plant Closing

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Citing potentially adverse economic impact throughout New England, an ad hoc group of the region’s energy industry stakeholders and public policy officials has requested ISO-New England (ISO-NE) to conduct a formal study on regional power pricing impact if Vermont Yankee and other nuclear power plants, are forced to close. The End User Alliance (EUA) members, many active in the New England Power Pool (NEPOOL), requested that ISO-NE, the non-profit entity operating the six-state power grid, undertake the study.

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The EUA asks for study of economic impact if low-cost regional nuclear power plants are forced to retire.

'The New England Power Grid represents a symbiotic relationship. Closing a power plant--nuclear, oil-fired or otherwise--affects people and businesses beyond its neighborhood and beyond its state,' says August Fromuth, head of the End User Alliance.

Citing potentially adverse economic impact throughout New England, an ad hoc group of the region’s energy industry stakeholders and public policy officials has requested ISO-New England (ISO-NE) to conduct a formal study on regional power pricing impact if Vermont Yankee and other nuclear power plants, are forced to close.

The End User Alliance (EUA) members, many active in the New England Power Pool (NEPOOL), requested that ISO-NE, the non-profit entity operating the six-state power grid, undertake the study.

“The Alliance feels that the costs of power plant shutdowns should be researched and disseminated to public policy makers in Vermont and New England. It’s important that we all understand current reference points for such a dramatic event and are aware of the broader outcomes,” says August Fromuth, head of the End User Alliance.

“Right now, nuclear power supplies 15% of New England’s capacity and nearly 30% of New England’s energy. The New England Power Grid represents a symbiotic relationship. Closing a power plant--nuclear, oil-fired or otherwise--affects people and businesses beyond its neighborhood and beyond its state,” he continues.

The need for such a study has become more urgent since December 21, when the Environmental Protection Agency ordered certain U.S. power plants to make profound cuts in emissions over the next three years. Fearful of vastly more expensive power costs to ratepayers that will reverberate throughout the region’s economy just when there are signs of a recovery, the EUA stresses that nuclear has become one of the least expensive forms of electricity to generate.

“As we say in our request,” Fromuth notes, “simple math shows that if you remove a nuclear power plant that contributes substantial kilowatt hours of electricity to New England’s grid, you can expect an adverse impact on electricity prices.

“Ratepayers throughout the region deserve to be fully informed of the effects of plant closure. A thorough study of such scenarios by the ISO is warranted.,” he adds.

In last February’s ISO-NE Strategic Planning Problem Statement Changes to New England Power System, the nonprofit corporation that oversees the New England power grid researched the effects on regional electricity capacity if Vermont Yankee and other power plants are forced into retirement. It concluded that any sudden removal of power plants can negatively affect the ability of the Power Grid to offer reliable electricity, especially at times of high stress in the system, such as during abnormal peak usage or adverse weather events when “normal” power transmission can be disrupted for protracted periods.

The economic study requested by EUA would be a natural extension of that completed study, says Fromuth.

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Barbara Wilson