For many years, I worked directly with the guests at one of America’s leading family destination resorts. They told me they come to Vermont because it is beautiful and unspoiled, because the air is clean and the views are gorgeous. If they wanted dirty air or visual clutter, they would have gone somewhere else, or just stayed home. Most guests come from nearby out of state — from the other New England states, New York, or the two closest Quebec provinces. Many of them drive part or all of the way. In short, they come not only for the fun of the resort itself, but for the beauty of surrounding Vermont, especially the mountains, for the clean air, and because its nearness makes it affordable, compared to the resort competition out west.
Beauty, clean air, and affordability — Vermont Yankee is a benefit to all three. Beauty, because having an operational Vermont Yankee means we are in less of a rush to clear cut our mountain ridgelines and valleys to make way for wind farms and for crisscrossing new power lines for the hodgepodge of smallscale power generation that some would have replace it. Clean air, because Vermont Yankee emits no air pollutants, unlike the coal and gas plants that will be ramped up if Vermont Yankee closes. Some environmental groups that should know better have suggested a patchwork quilt of woodburning power plants, carbon emissions and all, to replace Vermont Yankee. From an air quality point of view, this makes no sense. To me, one of Vermont Yankee’s greatest environmental benefits as a power producer is that it already exists. No more trees need to be cut down, nor rocks blasted, nor tourist-drawing scenic views destroyed. There is no need for lines of slow, loud, exhaust-emitting trucks running to and from construction sites and woodchip plants.
Finally, Vermont Yankee power is very affordable, especially when compared to the renewable power that Montpelier seems determined to make us pay for. Unfortunately the paying public isn’t just my family. Resorts use a lot of electricity, and it is a simple rule of business that the customer always pays in the end.
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