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Commons to host panel discussion about VY decommissioning, local economy

‘The Path toward a Post-Nuclear Economy’ takes place Sept. 18

BRATTLEBORO—With Entergy’s announcement that the Vermont Yankee nuclear power station will close permanently in 2014 comes a variety of questions about the effects that the shutdown will have on the community and its economic well-being.

A diverse panel of experts will explore these issues at a community forum, “The Path Toward a Post-Nuclear Economy.” The event, featuring six guest panelists, will focus on offering the region a more precise understanding of when decommissioning will take place, how that very different workforce will take shape, and what measures the area can take to adapt to the transition.

The panel is produced by The Commons as part of Voices Live, a new initiative to bring the nonprofit weekly newspaper’s award-winning editorial and commentary section, Voices, into the community. The program will be recorded for future broadcast. Content from the evening will be incorporated into future Voices sections.

“No matter where you stand on the nuclear issue (and, yes, we’re all raw and exhausted from 40-plus years of the nuclear-power debate here, which is far from over), please plan to join us: to learn, to discuss, to challenge, to question, to observe, and to look ahead in the spirit of making southern Vermont stronger and more resilient,” writes Commons editor Jeff Potter.

“All views will be welcome; no agendas will be sacred; all discussion will be candid, free-spirited, and civil,” Potter adds.

Audience members are encouraged to submit questions in advance for the panelists to

The program takes place at 7:30 p.m. on Wednesday, Sept. 18 at the Hooker-Dunham Theatre at 139 Main St.

The panel will include:

• Chris Campany, executive director of the Windham Regional Commission. The regional planning agency’s positions, according to its website (, “seek to mitigate to the greatest extent possible the economic, employment, cultural and social impacts of the closure on the region; advocate for the fiscal well-being of our towns; and advocate for the restoration of the Vermont Yankee site to greenfield status as soon as possible so that it may be reused.”

• Pat Moulten Powden, Southeastern Vermont Economic Development Strategies (SeVEDS) representative and director of workforce development, Brattleboro Development Credit Corp. As described on its website (, “SeVEDS exists to reverse the Windham Regions economic decline. We envision developing the Southern Vermont economy to generate long-term growth and prosperity, improve the regions quality of life and sustain its quality of place.”

• Mike Hebert, of Vernon, who represents VY’s hometown in the Vermont state legislature and has been a vocal supporter of the plant and an advocate for its employees.

• Ray Shadis, technical consultant, New England Coalition ( Shadis has been affiliated with the antinuclear group for a number of years. On his home turf in Maine, Shadis was an advocate for the closing of the Maine Yankee power plant in Wiscasset, Maine, and has followed the economic effects of that plant’s decommissioning.

• Guy Page, communications director of the Vermont Energy Partnership ( The VEP describes itself as “a diverse group of more than 90 business, labor, and community leaders committed to finding clean, affordable, and reliable electricity solutions to ensure Vermont stays a great place to live and work.” The organization has long supported Vermont Yankee.

• John Mullin, professor of regional planning and director of the Center for Economic Development, University of Massachusetts, Amherst ( His research and professional interests focus upon industrial revitalization, port development, and downtown planning. He was a co-author of the 1997 paper “The Closing of the Yankee Rowe Nuclear Power Plant: The Impact on a New England Community.”

• Olga Peters, reporter, The Commons ( Peters has covered multiple complex VY stories over the past few years, including Entergy’s federal court case against the state of Vermont.

The panel will be moderated by Commons Deputy Editor Randolph T. Holhut. The forum will be in a question-and-answer format, with both questions from the audience and submitted in advance.

The event is coordinated by journalist and Commons contributor Leah McGrath Goodman and her associate, Morgan Milazzo.

Admission is free, but donations to The Commons, for its ongoing news coverage of these issues and for future such forums, will be gratefully appreciated.

The Commons is published by the nonprofit Vermont Independent Media, and all donations are tax-deductible.

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