Supporting Vermont – NOT Vermont Yankee

Jun 19, 2012 by  | Bio |  Leave a Comment

Conservation Law Foundation filed an Amicus (Friend of the Court) brief on behalf of Conservation Law Foundation, New England Coalition, Vermont Natural Resources Council and Vermont Public Interest Research Group in support of the State’s appeal to overturn the decision of Judge Murtha that Vermont has no say regarding Vermont Yankee.

Not so fast. As the Brief notes, the Vermont Legislature has clear authority to determine whether to allow the continued operation of Vermont Yankee. Vermont’s laws do not conflict with federal law and they are part of a decade of energy legislation focused on moving Vermont’s power supply away from older and more polluting power sources, like Vermont Yankee. 

There is a much longer history here. Vermont Yankee is a tired old nuclear plant and its owners are untrustworthy. Our brief shows that Vermont’s actions are authorized and reasonable.

“The Legislature’s track record shows that the Vermont Legislature has been passing energy legislation for years in response to constituents’ strong support for transitioning to renewable energy. Vermont engaged in the legitimate exercise of its traditional authority over power planning, including the future use of nuclear power plants. Vermont’s purposes, including planning, economics and reliability, are not only plausible, but show how the General Assembly has been preparing for the eventual closure of Vermont Yankee, whether in 2012 or thereafter, by enacting legislation, including Act 74 and Act 160, to assure that Vermont will be able to timely transition to an economical and environmentally sustainable energy supply” (pg 19)

Vermont Yankee’s troubled history also shows the validity of the Legislature’s actions. “Since Entergy Nuclear Vermont Yankee (Entergy) purchased the Vermont Yankee facility in 2002, a steady stream of mishaps, misrepresentations and disappointments shattered Vermont’s faith and trust in Vermont Yankee and its owners. From the failure to make any contributions to the decommissioning fund, followed by the collapse of the cooling towers in 2007, the proposed “spin off” of the plant to a highly leveraged subsidiary, the false statements to regulators and the broken promises of a power contract that never materialized, Entergy’s actions have had what an Entergy executive described as a “corrosive effect” on the relationships needed to maintain a major electric generating facility within the State.” (Pg 5). 

“These events evidence the untrustworthiness and lack of credibility in Entergy management that precluded the Vermont Legislature from affirming a continued business relationship with Entergy.” (Pg 23).

The Brief was a joint effort of our organizations. As organizations that have been involved in matters concerning energy legislation and Vermont Yankee for decades, our brief provides the Court with the perspective of how Vermont’s laws are part of Vermont’s broader efforts to responsibly manage energy supply. 

See Brief Here and Brattleboro Reformer story here.

Massachusetts Clean Energy Revolution Picks Up Steam: What We Need To Do Now

Jun 6, 2012 by  | Bio |  Leave a Comment

This spring, clean energy is sprouting up all over Massachusetts. The Commonwealth is now in a terrific position to further solidify its promising trajectory and show the nation how it’s done – so long as we take a few critical actions.

By necessity, CLF and others continue to play serious defense. This includes directly confronting the region’s dirty and uneconomic coal plants, and partnering with local advocates to fend off new power generation facilities that would increase air pollution. This work continues to be an essential part of what we do.

But equally important is our work to advance clean energy solutions. This work is about “keeping the lights on” while reducing the pollution that contributes to climate change and worsens asthma attacks and other health impacts. In the wake of some energizing recent events, let’s take a moment to reflect on the progress we’re making in Massachusetts on the clean energy solutions side of the equation and what we need to do to keep it up.

Governor Patrick Fires Up the Troops

In a rousing and inspired clean energy address before over 200 clean energy leaders last week, Governor Patrick touted Massachusetts’s long list of recent clean energy achievements. It’s an impressive list, including a suite of forward-looking clean energy laws enacted in 2008: the aptly named MA Green Communities Act, Global Warming Solutions Act, and Green Jobs Act. These policies not only are reducing power plant pollution, they also helped spur the clean energy sector to become one of the few bright spots in the recent recession – with more than 60,000 new clean energy jobs in MA alone. At a time when families are struggling, this is indisputably good news.

Particularly inspiring was the Governor’s connecting of clean energy dots: as he noted, we can replace all of Massachusetts’ remaining dirty and uneconomic coal-fired power plants with clean offshore wind. This isn’t pie-in-the-sky futuristic thinking. We already have the tools we need to get the job done. With further contributions from other renewable energy resources, we can redirect the billions of dirty fossil fuel dollars Massachusetts currently sends out of state and instead re-power the Commonwealth with clean alternatives that promote local jobs and improve public health.

Reinforcing that everyone can and should be part of the solution, Boston Bruin Andrew Ference joined the Governor in touting the Massachusetts green revolution. Ference leads by example: he conserves energy by riding a bike, walking or taking the “T” to get around, recycling and composting. All of these simple and healthy alternatives reduce energy waste and associated energy impacts. And the Commonwealth must continue to bring the same dedication and ferocity to the fight for clean energy as Ference does to the rink.

Toughest environmentalist around Andrew Ference May 30, 2012

Cape Wind Hearings Reflect Major Shift

Further evidence of the clean energy revolution in Massachusetts came through a series of Department of Public Utilities (DPU) public hearings in May. The hearings provided opportunities for the public to comment on a 15-year contract for the sale of some of the Cape Wind offshore wind energy project’s output to NSTAR electric. Even at the hearing on Cape Cod, where some opposition long has simmered, Cape Wind supporters vastly outnumbered opponents. The shift more strongly in favor of clean energy was palpable. Dozens of people lined up, often waiting for hours to say that they are willing to pay a modest premium for clean energy from Cape Wind.

One notable dynamic that was not reflected in media reports: an overwhelming number of young people and parents spoke in support of purchasing Cape Wind’s clean power. It’s about choosing a thriving future.

Massachusetts is on a roll. But we cannot afford to stall out just as we’re on the crest of the clean energy wave. Here’s what we need to do now:

Enact MA Green Communities Act Part II. The 2008 MA Green Communities Act has been a resounding success, propelling Massachusetts to the head of the nation with respect to reducing energy waste, saving Massachusetts hundreds of millions of dollars (and counting), and giving a much-needed boost to the deployment of clean, locally available renewable energy sources such as wind and solar. But some of the Act’s modest programs soon will be maxed out. Fortunately, the MA Senate recently took action through Senate Bill 2214 to build upon the 2008 Act’s key renewable energy programs. Now, we look to the MA House of Representatives to take action to advance these key clean energy measures to the Governor’s desk by July 31.

Fully implement the Massachusetts Global Warming Solutions Act, including the adoption of regulations to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. The 2008 Global Warming Solutions Act requires Massachusetts DEP to adopt regulations to keep Massachusetts on track to meet its clean energy and climate objectives. Among other advantages, such regulations will provide clear signals to the burgeoning market for clean energy alternatives, and will ensure that global warming pollution is reduced gradually over time. Despite the law’s clear mandate, DEP blew the January 1, 2012 deadline for adopting these critically important regulations. To ensure MA stays on track to meet its 2020 target, it’s essential that DEP take action to adopt smart, effective regulations without further delay.

Get Cape Wind over the finish wire. More than a decade in the permitting and environmental review process, this project is primed to go forward and begin delivering huge amounts of clean power. CLF will continue to advocate before the Massachusetts DPU for approval of a 15-year contract for Cape Wind to deliver 27.5% of its output to NSTAR Electric customers.

There’s no question that Massachusetts has made tremendous progress on clean energy in the past few years. But as the Governor wisely noted in his clean energy address last week, “winners don’t stand still.” So, Massachusetts, let’s keep moving!

 

The “New Route” for Northern Pass Won’t Cure Its Failings

May 24, 2012 by  | Bio |  Leave a Comment

This summer, New Hampshire is bracing for news of the Northern Pass project’s future and its “new route.”

It’s now been nearly a year since the federal permitting process for the Northern Pass project was put on indefinite hold. North of Groveton, New Hampshire, the developer – Northern Pass Transmission LLC (NPT) – is still working behind tightly closed doors to string together a new section of the project route, where there are no existing transmission corridors, by paying landowners substantial sums for property – in many cases, well above market value.

Earlier this month, the chief operating officer of NPT’s parent company, Northeast Utilities, told investors:

Where we are right now is in procuring the last 40 miles of the right-of-way, and I can tell you we are making very, very strong progress in lining up the right of way. I think we’re on track for the middle of the year, approximately August timeframe to have the right-of-way secured and then to be prepared to file with the [U.S. Department of Energy] the route….

NPT’s apparent plan (assuming it really can overcome the considerable obstacles to a new route):

Not so fast. Before the news arrives (if it does), it’s worth remembering that whatever new lines the developer manages to draw on the map do nothing to change the project’s DNA or to demonstrate that the project will benefit New Hampshire. A brief review is in order:

Where are the benefits for New Hampshire?

Through  costly marketing efforts, NPT has been trying to sell New Hampshire on the tremendous economic and environmental benefits of Northern Pass. But the supposed benefits just don’t hold up to scrutiny:

  • Reduced emissions from “clean power”?

In terms of greenhouse gas emissions, CLF’s report on the most recent science demonstrated that new hydropower projects to supply power for Northern Pass are much worse for the climate than NPT’s false advertising claims have led the region to believe and are not meaningfully better than natural gas power plants (the power NPT predicts that Northern Pass would replace) in the early years after reservoirs are developed. As a result, contrary to mistaken but widely disseminated assumptions, importing hydropower from Canada is not a short-term solution that will reduce New England’s or New Hampshire’s carbon emissions. Indeed, the current proposal would have the perverse effect of protecting – rather than hastening the transition away from – PSNH’s low-performing, high-emitting power plants, which are New Hampshire’s largest source of greenhouse gas emissions. (Despite marketing the project based on its “clean” source of the power, NPT also refuses to acknowledge the relevance or importance of the troubling damage to ecosystems and communities that large-scale hydropower causes in Canada.)

  • Lower electric rates?

Those who would live with the new transmission lines, customers of NPT affiliate PSNH, are the least likely to benefit. Despite nearly two years of promises that PSNH would announce a plan to purchase Hydro-Québec hydropower for New Hampshire residents, there is still no agreement to do so. Any modest effects on the region’s wholesale electricity rates (which NPT’s consultant predicted based on outdated economic assumptions about energy costs) don’t translate into lower rates for PSNH customers (who instead are stuck paying the bill for PSNH’s inefficient and dirty power plants). In fact, if Northern Pass succeeds in lowering wholesale rates, it will likely worsen PSNH’s death spiral of increasing rates and fewer customers, leaving those residents and small businesses still getting power from PSNH with higher bills.

  • Growing New Hampshire’s clean energy economy and jobs?

There is a substantial risk that Northern Pass would swamp the market for renewable energy projects in New England, especially if state laws are amended to qualify Hydro-Québec power as “renewable.” Furthermore, the project’s high voltage direct current technology means that its massive investment in transmission capacity will wholly bypass the potentially fertile ground for renewable energy development in northern New England. Whatever the short-term construction jobs required (and NPT’s estimates are disputed), the current Northern Pass proposal may diminish the prospects for New Hampshire’s clean energy economy, including needed permanent jobs in the renewable and energy efficiency sectors.

No regional plan addressing new imports

Québec continues to implement its ambitious plan to develop more wild Boreal rivers into a new generation of massive hydropower projects, which will increase its export capabilities. This January, Hydro-Québec commissioned the final turbine at its latest hydropower facility (Eastmain 1-A) and will commission other turbines (at Sarcelle) as part of the same overall project later this year. Construction at the $8 billion Romaine River hydropower project (the subject of the film Seeking the Current) has begun and is ongoing, with the first unit expected to come online in 2014. Northeast Utilities has affirmed that Northern Pass will tap the power from these new projects. Meanwhile, Northern Pass competitors are moving forward with new transmission projects in eastern New England and in New York, among others:

Northern Pass and competitor transmission projects (source: ISO-NE)

More than a year ago, CLF and others urged the Department of Energy to weigh the region’s energy needs and develop a strategic regional plan that would determine a well-informed role for new Canadian hydropower imports in the northeastern United States’ energy future – before moving forward with the permitting process for Northern Pass. NPT’s only response was that responsible planning – encompassing the other pending transmission projects and a full consideration of the reasonable alternatives – would unacceptably delay its project – a truly ironic claim given NPT’s own, unforced, ongoing delay. More incredibly, the Department of Energy has so far sided with NPT, without explaining why.

So as Québec builds more dams and NPT buys up land, our region has no plan of its own. With no framework to understand the nature and extent of the appropriate role for Canadian hydropower, it is difficult if not impossible to make a sound, well-informed decision on whether Northern Pass – or projects like it – should proceed.

Community and grassroots reaction throughout New Hampshire

Since Northern Pass was announced in 2010, the project has inspired a broad-based and spirited movement of people throughout New Hampshire to oppose the current proposal. Last spring, there were massive turnouts at the Department of Energy’s public hearings on the project, with literally thousands attending and providing written and verbal comments both questioning the merits of the current proposal and urging a thorough environmental review. And earlier this year, a coalition of citizens and organizations of many political stripes succeeded in persuading New Hampshire’s legislature to enact a bill preventing projects like Northern Pass from using eminent domain. In another effort, more than 1,500 donors contributed total of $850,000 to enable the Society for the Protection of New Hampshire Forests to preserve the treasured New Hampshire landscape surrounding the historic Balsams resort, including a parcel that NPT had sought to purchase as part of Northern Pass’s transmission corridor. To date, town meeting voters in 32 local communities have passed resolutions and ordinances against the current proposal. Critically, most of these communities are located along the NPT’s “preferred route” that follows PSNH ‘s existing transmission corridor, south of any “new route” that NPT may announce.

NPT’s refusal to consider routing and technological alternatives

At every turn, NPT has rejected calls for in-depth consideration of potential alternatives to its current proposal, including use of an existing high-voltage transmission corridor that extends from Canada, through Vermont and western New Hampshire, to Massachusetts; burying transmission lines in transportation corridors, as is proposed in the New York and eastern New England projects mentioned above; or adding capacity to that same New York project, consistent with that project’s original proposal (it has since been scaled back). Indeed, Northern Pass’s response to the public’s opposition to the project was to “withdraw support” for alternative routes and double down on its “preferred route.” While this stance may be in the economic interest of NPT and PSNH, it’s grossly at odds with a fair, well-informed permitting process that would vindicate the public’s interest in a solution with minimal environmental and community impacts.

If and when NPT comes back from its year of buying up North Country land and relaunches its effort to secure approval of the Northern Pass project, with the only change to the proposal consisting of a new line on the map north of Groveton, there should be no mistake: the fundamental flaws in the current proposal remain. Likewise, whatever NPT’s “preferred route,” CLF remains as committed as ever to securing a comprehensive and rigorous permitting process that identifies superior alternatives and a final outcome that moves us toward – and not away from – a clean energy future for New Hampshire and the region.

For more information about Northern Pass, sign-up for our monthly newsletter Northern Pass Wire, visit CLF’s Northern Pass Information Center (http://www.clf.org/northern-pass), and take a look at our prior Northern Pass posts on CLF Scoop.

The Writing Is on the Wall for Coal. Will New Hampshire Notice?

May 10, 2012 by  | Bio |  1 Comment »

We are in the midst of a massive, historic retreat in the nation’s use of coal to produce electricity, which began in 2008. This ongoing shift away from our dirtiest fuel has made news around the country. The primary reason: coal-fired power plants – expensive new facilities and decades-old dinosaurs alike – can’t compete in today’s marketplace. Investors and customers are moving toward cleaner, cheaper alternatives, principally natural gas but also renewables (especially wind) and high-tech ways of reducing energy use.

The national trend is occurring here in New Hampshire and throughout New England. This week, New Hampshire learned that PSNH is not operating its flagship coal plant, Merrimack Station in Bow, and that its economic prospects are not good. In fact, the plant will sit completely idle for six months of 2012, prompting the Manchester Union Leader to run the headline, “PSNH’s Bow power plant shuts down.” (The word “temporarily” was later added to the online story.) The two coal boilers at PSNH’s Schiller Station in Portsmouth will operate even less. (The Nashua Telegraph also took note.) This is welcome and long overdue relief for New Hampshire from New England’s top toxic polluter, and it would not have happened without legal pressure from CLF and others. More on our work in a moment.

Across the region, coal use has been collapsing for some time — and this was not unpredicted, as PSNH is claiming. PSNH’s claims to the contrary convey its willfully myopic planning perspective – a direct result of its expectation that ratepayers will cover its costs with a handsome profit irrespective of how utterly unsuccessful its investment decisions have been.

Coal-fired power plants’ “capacity factors” – their actual power output as a percentage of their theoretical maximum output at full power, running 24/7 – are intended to be very high; these plants were designed to run at close to full power day and night as “baseload” power for the electric grid. Not anymore:

In 2012, the trend is accelerating. Nationally, the U.S. Energy Information Administration reports that, in the first quarter, coal power accounted for only 36% of total generation – the smallest role for coal in a generation and down almost 9% from the first quarter of 2011. Regionally, a new milestone came in April, when the regional electric grid announced that, during the previous month, it didn’t dispatch any power from New England coal plants to meet the region’s electric demand.

For public health, air quality, the environment, the climate, and the communities where these plants are located, these trend lines are all in the right direction. For years, CLF’s Coal-Free New England 2020 campaign has fought to speed this progress and to make it permanent, by holding plant operators accountable for violating environmental laws (including at Merrimack Station), securing final and binding agreements to guarantee closure, and working in coalition with local residents to plan for responsible redevelopment and reuse of the plants’ sites.

In New Hampshire, with the complicity of state regulators, PSNH made big bets that the market for its coal-fired power will exist for years to come. One such spectacularly bad gamble was PSNH’s investment – over vigorous opposition from CLF, ratepayer advocates, and others – in a life extension project for Merrimack Station, including air pollution controls that address only some of the plant’s toxic and harmful emissions, to the tune of $422 million, plus a 10% guaranteed profit, money it now wants back from New Hampshire residents and small businesses through the regulator-approved rates it charges. Given coal’s collapse, which CLF and ratepayer advocates predicted at the time, this investment looks absurd and unwise, except of course to PSNH and its parent company Northeast Utilities, which has repeatedly reassured shareholders it is entitled to get back the full value of the upgrade, even if the plant barely runs.

Why has PSNH been so richly rewarded for such terrible economic decisions? Put simply, New Hampshire’s backward relic of a regulatory system is still protecting PSNH and its coal plants from the market. Remarkably, ratepayers continue to pay for upkeep and staffing at PSNH’s power plants, even when they sit idle, and also pay that same 10% profit on the value of all PSNH assets, including its quiet coal piles – and that’s whatever book value PSNH assigns, not market value.

PSNH has fought tooth and nail to protect its special treatment. Earlier this year, PSNH pulled out all the stops to kill a bill that would have directed state regulators to investigate whether PSNH’s ownership of power plants, including Merrimack and Schiller Stations, is in the best interest of ratepayers. After PSNH’s full-court press of lobbying, editorial board visits, and pressure from PSNH employees as well as PSNH-allied unions, politicians, and chambers of commerce, the House tabled the bill.

In the meantime, PSNH remains in an economic “death spiral” with very few large business customers to cover its costs. As a result, its remaining customers – homeowners and small businesses – are now paying as much as 50% more for power (8.75 cents per kilowatt-hour) than are customers of other utilities – which do not own power plants and get all their power from the competitive market (around 6 cents per kilowatt-hour). And the Legislature continues to seek the rollback of New Hampshire clean energy laws under the guise of easing ratepayer burdens, mistaking small trees for the forest of PSNH’s above-market rates, which include the costs of both PSNH’s idle fleet and buying power from more efficient plants.

What is CLF doing about it? Against the odds, we’re succeeding at forcing New Hampshire regulators to scrutinize PSNH’s costs, and the fact that PSNH’s coal plants are now sitting idle and the corresponding benefits to public health and the climate are a product of that scrutiny and a testament to CLF’s advocacy. And we’re pushing for regulators to do much more to hold PSNH accountable for its abysmal planning and force PSNH’s shareholder Northeast Utilities – and not suffering PSNH ratepayers, who are paying among the nation’s highest electric rates – to bear the downside of PSNH’s bad bets on coal. The last thing we should be doing with our energy dollars is subsidizing dirty power that can’t compete.

The market is providing an unprecedented opportunity to make that Union Leader headline from this week – and headlines like it for every other coal plant in the region – an enduring reality as New England transitions to a clean energy future. New Hampshire and the rest of New England should seize it.

A dispatch from the future? Manchester Union Leader headline, May 8, 2012

Vermont’s Clean Energy Shortfall

May 8, 2012 by  | Bio |  Leave a Comment

photo credit: Ivy Dawned, Flickr

The end of any legislative session is tumultuous. Vermont’s citizen legislature, that meets part-time only a few months each year, is no different. In this year’s end-of-session tumult, progress on clean energy was left on the cutting room floor. This is a big disappointment. The same legislature that made skiing and snowboarding Vermont’s official winter sports failed to pass legislation that would keep those sports off the endangered list.

The Vermont Legislature stripped the Renewable Energy Standard from the energy bill it approved. Renewable standards require utilities to help address climate change by providing their customers with a certain percentage of power from clean, renewable sources. The more power we get from clean sources, the less power we get from older and dirtier fossil fuel plants. Twenty-nine states, including every other New England state, already have renewable standards, but Vermont is left behind in the dark ages of dirty power.

Throughout the session, CLF worked closely with other environmental organizations, business leaders and renewable developers to put in place a meaningful renewable standard so Vermont’s electric power users can do more to reduce carbon. The urgency of the climate crisis demands strong action.

There will be opportunities to move further ahead on renewable electricity next year, along with some legislation to help heating efficiency and electric vehicles, but each year we delay means more carbon reduction is needed. It is disappointing that in a year in which Vermont saw, in the form of flooding from Hurricane Irene, the kind of damage that climate change can do, and then saw one of the warmest winters on record (which wreaked havoc on ski areas and maple syrup production), we are not doing more to tackle climate change.

Join CLF at a Free Screening of the Last Mountain on Wednesday, May 9 in Cambridge, MA

May 8, 2012 by  | Bio |  Leave a Comment

A keystone to CLF’s work to secure a clean energy future for the region is completing the transition to a coal-free New England. It is a time of historic progress: cleaner, cheaper alternatives are driving coal out of the market, and old coal plants are closing their doors. But Massachusetts remains a critical battleground for CLF’s work, with two costly old coal-fired power plants continuing to jeopardize public health and stoke climate change.

That’s why we’re delighted to tell you about an event hosted by Cambridge City Councilor Marjorie Decker entitled “The True Cost of Energy: Coal.” Councilor Decker has invited the public to a panel discussing the true costs of coal and a free screening of the critically acclaimed documentary The Last Mountain in Cambridge, MA, on Wednesday, May 9. With stunning footage of the practice of mountaintop removal mining, the film bears dramatic witness to the social, public health, and environmental damage wrought by coal and power companies, and chronicles the grassroots fight against coal in Appalachia and around the country. The New York Times called The Last Mountain a “persuasive indictment” of coal; I think you’ll agree.

The Last Mountain producer Eric Grunebaum will be on hand for a panel discussion to discuss the film and the future of coal-fired power in Massachusetts and New England. I will be available before and after the event to answer any questions you may have about CLF’s work to secure a coal-free Massachusetts.

Please attend:
When: Wednesday, May 9, 2012. 5-8:30 pm.
Where: Cambridge Public Library, 449 Broadway, Cambridge, MA 02138 (map).

Bring your friends and family, and email me at scleveland@clf.org with any questions. I hope to see you there!

You can watch the trailer here:

 

Putting an Old Nuclear Plant Out to Pasture – Slowly

May 7, 2012 by  | Bio |  Leave a Comment

In a world where messages are sent instantaneously, it is hard to believe the time to consider (again) whether the continued operation of Vermont Yankee is good for Vermont would take more than a year.

Entergy, Vermont Yankee’s owners, proposed a schedule to Vermont regulators that would have the case completed in just over eighteen months.  

CLF argued for a shorter schedule noting that Entergy’s schedule was “roughly equivalent to the gestation period for elephants.”  This is simply too long.

Most cases, including the previous Vermont Yankee proceeding at the Public Service Board and the recent federal trial for Vermont Yankee were completed in far less time. 

In its ruling on May 4, the Vermont Public Service Board accepted the longer time-frame Entergy requested. It also provides for two separate rounds of hearings – one in February and a second in June. The Board also scheduled two public hearings where anyone interested can weigh in and provide input to the Board on whether Vermont Yankee should retire.

Entergy’s foot dragging means Vermonters will wait an extra eighteen months before seeing this tired, old and polluting nuclear plant closed. That’s too bad. Especially since the plant was supposed to close on March 21, 2012.

photo credit: stuck in customs, flickr

The two sets of hearings suggest the there will be a very thorough review and the Board, which likely will take a very active role in the hearings.

The thoroughness is good. It just shouldn’t have to take this long.

 

 

The Lights Will Stay On, Without Vermont Yankee

May 4, 2012 by  | Bio |  2 Comment »

photo credit: riekhavoc, flickr

Another false claim by Entergy – the owner of the Vermont Yankee nuclear facility in Vermont – is laid to rest. On Monday, the ISO-New England came out with an important determination that Vermont Yankee is not needed for reliability of the electrical grid.

This has been brewing for awhile and is quite significant since Entergy keeps claiming its tired old and polluting plant on the banks of the Connecticut River is needed for reliability. That claim is simply false.

In a filing made with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, the ISO New England stated:

“[T]he ISO determined that Vermont Yankee is not needed for reliability for the 2015-2016 Capacity Commitment Period. This determination is based on the expectation that certain transmission upgrades will be in place prior to the 2015-2016 Capacity Commitment Period as well as new resources which have been procured through the Forward Capacity Market.”  [see page 8-9 of this filing]

This is a very important determination and is good news for New England’s clean energy future. It shows the transformation of our power grid to cleaner sources and away from older and polluting coal and nuclear plants.

By way of explanation, the ISO New England operates the region’s electricity grid to ensure the lights stay on. It holds auctions to determine which resources will supply capacity to meet power needs in future years. This is the forward capacity auction referred to above.

What this means is that Entergy will not collect capacity payments for Vermont Yankee during 2015 to 2016.  That means that ratepayers will not be forced to prop up this tired, old, expensive and polluting nuclear plant, or its untrustworthy owners. Ratepayers will not be paying for Vermont Yankee to be available to operate.

This determination recognizes that grid improvements and new resources will keep the lights on without Vermont Yankee. Another false claim by Entergy is laid to rest. Our region moves one step closer to a cleaner energy future.

 

Join CLF at a Free Screening of The Last Mountain in Exeter, NH on May 4th

Apr 24, 2012 by  | Bio |  1 Comment »

A keystone to CLF’s work to secure a clean energy future for the region is completing the transition to a coal-free New England. It is a time of historic progress: cleaner, cheaper alternatives are driving coal out of the market, and old coal plants are closing their doors. But New Hampshire remains a critical battleground for CLF’s work, with two costly old coal-fired power plants being kept alive by failed state policies and ratepayer subsidies.

That’s why we’re delighted to be partnering with the Sustainability Film Series at Phillips Exeter Academy to present a free screening of the critically acclaimed documentary The Last Mountain in Exeter, New Hampshire, on Friday May 4. With stunning footage of the practice of mountaintop removal mining, the film bears dramatic witness to the social, public health, and environmental damage wrought by coal and power companies, and chronicles the grassroots fight against coal in Appalachia and around the country. The New York Times called The Last Mountain a “persuasive indictment” of coal; I think you’ll agree.

The Last Mountain producer Eric Grunebaum and I will be on hand for a panel discussion to discuss the film and the future of coal-fired power in New Hampshire and New England.

Please join us:

When: Friday, May 4, 2012. 7 pm.

Where: Phillips Exeter Academy, Phelps Academy Center in The Forum (3rd Floor)Tan Lane, Exeter, NH (map). 

Bring your friends and family, and email me at ccourchesne@clf.org with any questions. We hope to see you there!

Here is the trailer:

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