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June 24, 2009

Can Vermont Kick the Nuclear Habit?

A group of energy experts will gather tonight in the Mad River Valley at the Big Picture Theater in Waitsfield to discuss what the future holds for Vermont’s power supply, and if the state should allow its lone nuke plant to operate for another 20 years.

I'll be live-Tweeting the panel discussion and Q&A. You can follow me on Twitter.

Staff writer Ken Picard, who previewed the panel discussion in last week's issue, will join me at the event. 

Ken thought it best he come along on the trip to Waitsfield as he heard they allow disc golf in the Mad River Valley, which means you never know what kind of nutjobs could be lurking in the crowd. Traveling in pairs from Burlington may ensure one of us isn't treated to some form of "enhanced recreational technique," as Ken put it. Smart guy.

The free event, to be held from 6 to 8 p.m., is dubbed “an educational discussion” on Vermont’s energy future and the “political, health, economic and environmental implications of this decision.” At least an hour will be set aside for the public to ask questions of panelists.

Panelists include several critics of the nuke industry, including Dr. Nancy Chickering with Physicians For Social Responsibility and James Moore, a clean-energy advocate with Vermont Public Interest Research Group. Lawrence Mott, the third panelist, is managing director of New Generation Partners and has spent nearly a quarter-century developing wind and solar projects in Vermont. And, last but not least, there’s Arnie Gundersen, a nuclear engineer and member of the Vermont Yankee Oversight Panel.

Gundersen was recently asked by lawmakers to continue to monitor Vermont Yankee's progress in making improvements to its operations.

The plant has been beset by a series of leaks in the past couple of weeks, which is sure to draw some discussion and early conclusions about its long-term potential as a reliable power source.

Obviously, people who think that the re-licensing of Vermont Yankee is a good option for Vermont consumers will be very welcome at this event. The "panel" shows that this is not going to be an open-minded event where pro-nuclear views are welcomed, but a love-in for people who already have made up their minds that they want VY shut down no matter what.

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