Guest articles from Meredith Angwin. You can follow her on twitter at @yes_VY.
Air Pollution and Vermont Yankee – NOVEMBER 11, 2012
My name is Meredith Joan Angwin and I live in Wilder Vermont. I am here to speak in favor of granting Vermont Yankee Certificate of Public Good for continued operation. I am the Director of the Energy Education Project of the Ethan Allen Institute, I blog at Yes Vermont Yankee.
I am a physical chemist by training. I worked at improving pollution control methods and corrosion resistance of nuclear, gas, geothermal and coal plants. I was a project manager at the Electric Power Research Institute. I also consulted with many utilities, in the U. S. and abroad.
I am here today as a citizen of Vermont who wants Vermont to remain the clean, green and attractive state that it is today. Nuclear power has the least environmental impact of all baseload types of electricity. Specifically, it creates no air pollution. Nuclear power creates no nitrogen oxides.
Intermittent renewables like solar and wind must have be backed up by baseload power and dispatchable power. What kind of backup power will Vermont choose? Hydro, nuclear or fossil?
New hydro plants and new nuclear plants are unlikely to come on-line in this region. Our practical choices are Vermont Yankee, new fossil plants, or buying power from outside Vermont. I will discuss the environmental issues of natural gas versus Vermont Yankee, because I have technical expertise in this area.
Fossil power means air pollution. Natural gas plants are the best in terms of emissions, but they emit acid gases to the air: carbon dioxide and nitrogen oxides. I will talk about nitrogen oxides, an acid gas that contributes to acid rain and smog. I have patents in the control of nitrogen oxides.
Controlling nitrogen oxides is difficult. At the high temperatures in gas turbines, the air actually burns itself. That is, the nitrogen in the air combines with oxygen in the air and makes nitrogen oxides (NOX). NOX is only partially controlled by ammonia addition at the end of the process. Sometimes the ammonia itself becomes a pollutant.
NOX is a very acid gas, contributing to acid rain. NOX is also the main cause of smog, which can happen on any sunny day. You don’t have to be in Los Angeles to get smog. All you need is NOX and sunshine.
Nuclear plants do not release NOX. They keep our air clean. For clean Vermont air, we need to make our baseload power with Vermont Yankee, not fossil fuels.
Where Vermont Power Will Come From After Vermont Yankee – NOVEMBER 18, 2013
On Sunday, the Valley News published my op-ed Yankee’s Closing Will Hurt Vermont.
I always enjoy having an op-ed in the my local Sunday paper. I hope you read it. It’s about the probable effects on Vermont when Vermont Yankee closes.
Factors Affecting Vermont Electricity
As I wrote in the op-ed:
Vermont Yankee’s closing will affect everyone in Vermont. It will make our electricity more expensive, more fossil-fuel based and less reliable.
I explained the factors that will affect our power supply and pricing after Vermont Yankee closes. Specifically:
- The plant will not be replaced by renewables. Wind turbine construction in Vermont is practically at a standstill, for example.
- Our power will come from outside Vermont, and be subject to various sorts of interruption, including too few natural gas supply lines, ice storms, and HydroQuebec needing to use its electricity in Quebec during a cold snap.
- The electricity price will follow the grid price of natural gas. According to FERC, the New England price of natural gas is set to rise substantially (from $6.60 MMBTU to $11.75 MMBTU). In the rest of the country, the price of natural gas is set to remain stable.
- Grid payments of $75 million to oil-burning plants (the ISO-NE Winter Reliability Program) will be rolled into our electricity costs.
Several people asked me why I didn’t mention the people at Vermont Yankee, the effect of the plant closing on the local economy, the effect on the state economy, the effect on the state taxes?
These articles were originally posted at Yes Vermont Yankee.
Further reading on the impacts to society of VY’s early closure.
The US may be alone in the world thinking that natural gas prices will stay low. Here we are closing gas plants (Torrens Island A, Swanbank E) or running them at lower capacity. Even middle eastern countries like UAE and Iran are saving gas. I see in Virginia however there are concerns over future gas prices
If power prices and emissions go up as a result of NP closures those who thought it was a good idea should be called out. Make it a two stage process… those who make the decision now will have to justify it to a legislature committee in five years time.
I expect you’ve been following the Interesting Times in Port Pirie, John? Have they reconnected the town gas supply yet?
Natural gas marketing has to be the #1 industrial success story. ‘Natural’ is stuck on there, with all its positive connotations… Every day people think nothing of “upgrading” to domestic gas for convenience, or hauling it around in pressurised bottles – despite a spectacular gas-related accident occurring somewhere in the world every other week… We even plaster “Clean!” across the sides of our LPG fueled busses!
Yet despite all that, gas has apparently helped decrease US power sector emissions by 10% since 2005!
As for decision makers, I don’t see why they’re not held to KPIs on such things.