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Vermont Yankee

Power officials says shutdown won’t affect power supply

The future closing of the Vermont Yankee nuclear power plant likely won’t have a major impact on electricity supplies in western Massachusetts, officials said Tuesday.

Western Massachusetts Electric Co., a subsidiary of Northeast Utilities, that serves more than 200,000 customers in the western part of the state, has no direct contracts with Vermont Yankee, said spokesman Michael Durand. No other Northeast Utilities subsidiaries have contracts either, he said.

And the reliability of New England’s electricity grid should be unchanged by the closing, according to ISO New England, the not-for-profit corporation that oversees New England’s electric power system.

But the closing of Vermont Yankee, one of the largest power plants in New England, will mean less fuel diversity and a greater dependence on natural gas, said ISO New England spokeswoman Ellen Foley.

This is a problem, she said, because as more power plants are built that use natural gas as fuel to produce electricity, there are growing constraints on the region’s supply of natural gas.

Natural gas generated more than 52 percent of energy produced in New England last year, with nuclear generation producing 31 percent, according to ISO New England.

Foley said that ISO New England is creating financial incentives for power plants to make sure they have adequate fuel supplies, which could include natural gas and alterative fuel sources. ISO New England pays plants if they’re able to generate enough electricity when called upon and penalizes them if they’re unable to perform, she said.

It’s unknown what effect, if any, the closing will have on the price of electricity for the average consumer. Foley said that ISO New England does not make cost projections because there are always multiple factors that can have an impact on price.

You can reach Chris Shores at:
cshores@recorder.com
or 413-772-0261, ext. 264

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