30 December 2014

Vermont Yankee Reactor Closed

On 29 December 2014, the 42-year old U.S. Vermont Yankee reactor generated its last kilowatt-hour and was disconnected from the grid. Owner/operator Energy had decided the closure of the plant in August 2013, when it became apparent that “this asset is not financially viable” (see Another US Reactor Scheduled for Closure). Entergy blames low power prices, a high cost structure and “an atmosphere of unpredictability” for the lack of competitiveness. The shutdown decision is all the more remarkable as the plant had undergone significant upgrading for lifetime extension and had received a license renewal only in March 2011. The reactor had a remarkable lifetime load factor of over 80 percent and generated over one third of the electricity in the state. The unit could have operated under the new license until 2032. Vermont’s governor Peter Shumlin commented the closure of the state’s only nuclear plant: “Today, thanks to investments in renewable energy such as solar, Vermont’s energy future is on a different, more sustainable path that is creating jobs, reducing energy costs for Vermonters and slowing climate change".