My Turn: A time when nuclear was the future of energy


Saturday, December 30, 2017

Back in the day, nuclear power was to supply the world with an abundance of electrical power ‘too cheap to meter.’ Back then, for the married with children looking to buy a home, this was welcomed news. It was like a presidential candidate promising free college tuition and health care. What’s not to love?

Of course, expecting a free ride from the government (or utility) that is funded by the riders isn’t realistic. My piece is not about politics so much, but a point in time when radioactivity was about to render our portion of Franklin County desolate.

I grew up next door to the famous Montague Commune during the 1960s and ’70s. We were dairy farmers and eventually fell into debt as regulations required us to “go big” or die. We died … eventually. Within the commune, there were transients; those who stayed a spell then moved on to the next. There were also a few young residents who loved to farm, who worked hard to raise animals and crops to feed themselves. Those few befriended my parents, who were politically conservative church goers; whose lifestyles were quite different. While the nation was in chaos over these things, our neighborhood was rather peaceful. Lots of agriculture happening.

A primary concern of these communes was the onslaught of nuclear power. The “powers of power” were poised to build a twin nuclear power plant on the Montague Plains. A large weather tower was erected near the site and later sabotaged by a member of the commune. What an awful person, I thought. How can he be against electricity too cheap to meter? Well, now we know.

Montague Plains could have become another nuclear wasteland like the one in Europe; too hot to hike upon or even near. A water supply not fit to drink. The powers of power told us that it wasn’t the “hippie protests” that scuttled the twin nuke project, but rather the result of many feasibility studies. Perhaps, perhaps not.

I am in my seventies; still politically conservative and going to church. There are a few souls from that era, across the proverbial aisle, that I still consider friends. We may banter about on the political heresies of that day and today, but one thing we’ve learned about each other is that we can learn and benefit from each other. There will always be a Republican or Democrat to despise, but there are still “nukes” in our future to deal with. Hikers following a mountain stream will always find a spot where both sides are close enough to join hands.

Phil Grant is from Bernardston.