The permanent shutdown of the Vermont Yankee nuclear power plant will hamper job growth and quell economic activity in the region, a report released late Wednesday concludes.
For economic reasons, Entergy, the operator of the Vernon plant, intends to turn off the 42-year-old nuclear reactor Monday. Regional economic development planning officials say the closure will cost more than 1,100 related jobs and $480 million in economic activity in the region.
“The pending economic impacts due to [Vermont Yankee’s] closure in this region are significant. We view this information as a call to action,” officials said in a news release.
Chris Campany, executive director of the Windham Regional Commission, said the well-paid Entergy employees spend money in the local community and drive economic activity.
“It’s how those wages multiply when they get spread throughout the economy,” he said. “They’re getting their houses worked on. They’re buying groceries. They’re getting medical services. …”
The plant employs about 554 people, officials say. On Jan. 19, the company will reduce staffing levels to 316 employees working through early 2016. The company will then begin phasing out employees as spent nuclear fuel is removed from the plant and placed into on-site dry cask storage. By 2020, the company expects to employ 24 to 58 employees.
The plant’s drawdown will cause adverse economic impacts to a region already “confronting economic and demographic challenges,” according to according to the report by the UMass Donahue Institute. The report describes the plant as an “economic pillar” in the region that includes the states of Vermont, New Hampshire and Massachusetts.
Using an economic model, the report found more than 1,100 fewer jobs will exist in the region after 2020 compared to a scenario when the plant was fully operational. The model includes jobs at the plant as well as indirect jobs.
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During this same period, the region will forgo about $480 million in economic activity generated by the plant. Indirect and induced economic contributions are measured assuming Entergy employees spend money on food, services and retail in the region.
The Brattleboro Development Credit Corp., the Franklin (Mass.) Regional Council of Governments, the Southwest (N.H.) Regional Planning Commission and the Windham Regional Commission requested the report. According to a news release, the organizations have formed a collaboration centered on their joint concerns about the shutdown of the plant.
Campany said the partnership will help the region target economic development strategies.
“It gives us a much more clear direction to work together a community of shared interests as opposed to each region or county in the respective states going at it on our own,” he said.
Correction: An earlier version of this story said the Donahue Institute was part of UMass-Dartmouth.
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