Meredith Angwin

Are rolling blackouts on the horizon?

We need to keep existing nuclear, hydro, coal, and oil plants available to meet peak demands

When there's not enough supply of electricity to meet demand, an electric grid operator cuts power to one section of the grid to keep the rest of the grid from failing. After a while, the operator restores the power to the blacked-out area and moves the blackout on to another section.

The New England grid operator (ISO-NE) recently completed a major study of various scenarios for the near-term future (2024–2025) of the grid, including the possibilities of rolling blackouts. In New England, blackouts are expected to occur during the coldest weather, because that is when the grid is most stressed.

Rolling blackouts add painful uncertainty - and danger -- to everyday life. You aren't likely to know when a blackout will happen, because most grid operators have a policy that announcing a blackout would attract crime to the area.

In early April, Exelon said that it would close two large natural-gas-fired units at Mystic Station in Massachusetts. In its report about possibilities for the winter of 2024–25, ISO-NE had included the loss of these two plants as one of its scenarios.

Read More

Exporting our carbon problems

The EPA takes a flawed state-by-state approach to greenhouse-gas policy

The Environmental Protection Agency recently issued a proposed plan for greenhouse gas mitigation: the electricity sector must cut greenhouse gas emissions by 30 percent by 2030. The rules are set on a state-by-state basis. I am in favor of cutting carbon emissions, but the EPA plan is arbitrary, ineffective,

Read More

Entergy and Vermont settlement: a good deal

The agreement is a major step forward in what has been a hard battle between Vermont Yankee and the state

The state of Vermont and Entergy Corporation have been battling each other for years, but the two parties reached an agreement in December about the future of Vermont Yankee. Entergy has owned and operated the 42-year-old nuclear plant in Vernon since 2002. When Entergy announced plans to close the...

Read More


I am not Spock

When arguing in favor of nuclear power and especially Vermont Yankee, I sometimes felt I was channeling Spock. VY's opponents appealed to emotion: “I am so afraid.” As a pro-VY blogger, I appealed to facts and common sense. Sometimes I wanted to scream: “Nuclear energy is the only way to keep our civilization without destroying our world!” I never screamed it. I was Spock. When Entergy announced that it would close Vermont Yankee, my inner Spock continued even as the...

Read More

Wishful thinking

In 2011, the Vermont Department of Public Service issued a comprehensive energy plan that asserts that 90 percent of all energy used in the state - including electricity, transportation, and building heating - will be provided from renewable sources by 2050. Who could argue with the idea that almost all of the state's energy should come from renewable energy by mid-century? Probably nobody would argue, until they realize that what is called a “plan” isn't actually a plan; it's a...

Read More

Why is the Legislature an anti-nuclear bully pulpit?

On April 18, Robert Alvarez spoke to the Vermont House Natural Resources and Energy Committee about spent fuel storage at Vermont Yankee. I attended a large portion of that meeting, and I also collected his handout. The legislature is considering a tax on spent fuel. At the meeting, Alvarez spoke at length about the dangers of spent fuel. He advised that, for safety, much of the spent fuel should be taken out of the fuel pool and placed in dry...

Read More

Lawyers can't rescue a weak case

The state of Vermont was back in federal court in January, again claiming that the Senate vote of 2010 was a legally valid reason for the state to close Vermont Yankee. This was the second attempt by the state to make that case. A year ago, U.S. District Court Judge J. Garvan Murtha ruled for Entergy, Yankee's owner. For the federal appeals court hearing in January, Vermont Attorney General William Sorrell switched gears a bit. He hired high-priced legal help:

Read More

Who wins on March 21?

When Vermont Yankee was built, its 40-year Nuclear Regulatory Commission license was standard for new plants at that time. Although a new 20-year license was granted last year, the original license expires Wednesday. That day has become a rallying cry for plant opponents, who insist Yankee must be “shut down safely.” Many opponents speak as if it will be a personal defeat if the plant operates for a day past March 21. They don't actually claim that on the 22nd,

Read More