All those arguments about how Vermont “needs” Vermont Yankee? Not even Entergy can make that claim with a straight face now.
According to Reuters:
Entergy Corp’s Vermont Yankee nuclear power plant is no longer needed to maintain power reliability in New England because local electric companies have bolstered the region’s transmission infrastructure, the region’s power grid said
Ignoring the odd phrasing for a moment; the point is that the ISO has agreed to delist Vermont Yankee from the annual forward-capacity power auctions for 2013-2016…because it simply isn’t needed.
This development comes on top of the Public Service Board‘s refusal to grant Entergy a delay in its requirement that a new certificate of public good be obtained for the relicensed plant to continue operating.
The PSB is expected to rule on the question of Public Good in August of next year. Meanwhile, the New England Coalition is asking the Vermont Supreme Court to simply shut VY down, once and for all.
So much storm und angst; just because Entergy wants to continue its game of “hot potato” long enough to wring a little more value from VY, and perhaps slide out from under its liability for decomissioning.
In the year and a half since Fukushima briefly brought the nuclear debate front and center here at home, U.S energy consumers may have left that lesson largely unattended while focussing on political dramas; but other nations are actively pursuing ways to extract themselves from dependence upon an aging nuclear energy “fleet” that looks more and more threadbare every day.
Japanese consumers in particular have learned how corrupt and irresponsible have been the very agencies and individuals that were entrusted with regulation of that nations’ nuclear grid.
There are indications that our own Nuclear Regulatory Commission, in what appears to be a long established effort to diminish public anxiety, has been considerably less than candid and has deliberately dampened the lessons from Fukushima.
We learn, for example, from internal NRC memos, that even back on March 17, of 2011 they knew that not all spent fuel pools at U.S. reactor sites had been built to withstand the rigors of earth tremors:
Some US spent fuel pools are simply not ‘seismically qualified.’
And speaking of spent fuel pools in seismically active regions, Fairewinds Associateshas issued a new educational podcast that explains the consequences of locating nuclear reactors in seismically active areas, and takes a look at the issues associated with moving spent fuel from the damaged reactors at Fukushima.
We don’t really know how Vermont Yankee would fare if a significant seismic event had its epicenter near that facility. Despite known design flaws and an age approaching the outer limits of its original life-expectancy, the NRC rushed to approve a twenty-year license extension of the aging VY facility before the dust had even settled at Fukushima. Following NRC practice, a physical inspection of VY was not even required for relicensing!
I still find that pretty unbelievable.
Even the NRC seems to have partially gotten the point (although too late for VY), and as of August 2012, has suspended all new licensing of nuclear facilities until it puts together new regulatory conditions in response to a court ruling on spent fuel storage.
Unfortunately, the half-life of Vermont Yankee goes on and on.