For several weeks this spring, Windham County will get a huge financial boost. About 1,200 skilled, well-paid people will roll into the area, spending money on rooms, meals, gasoline, and whatever else they need. Retail stores, hotels, restaurants, and sales and service providers of all kinds will benefit from this shot in the arm.
The happy event we’re talking about here happens every 18 months, and it creates about $2.5 million dollars in economic activity. It’s the “refueling outage” at Vermont Yankee nuclear power plant, where the spent fuel is removed from the reactor, the new fuel is inserted. Along with the refueling the 600 Vermont Yankee employees and the 1,200 workers who travel to Vernon to assist, work on upgrading the plant to ensure the safe operation of a generator that can provide 24/7 base-load power to our grid.
While Vermont’s elected officials celebrate — quite rightly — the infusion of workers into the Northeast Kingdom for the expansion of ski areas, etc., they say nothing about the economic benefits that come to southern Vermont during the refueling cycles at Vermont Yankee. Many Vermont business owners in southern Vermont need to keep the employee and Vermont Yankee support contractors as customers at their business. They too want a stronger bottom line at the end of the month so that they can continue to live in Vermont and provide for their families.
One of the cruelest things one person can do to another is to deprive another of their livelihood. Why is it that when Wall Street closes a plant somewhere, it’s heartless, but when Montpelier tries to do it, they get a pass and we all have to suffer the economic consequences?
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