In late December, 2014, the 650-megawatt Vermont Yankee nuclear power plant in Vernon, VT., formally ceased operations. Plans to shut down the boiling water reactor, which had been operating since 1972, had been announced the prior year, and in the intervening period Entergy Corp., the Louisiana-based energy company that owns the plant, had begun a limited downsizing of its work force. In 2015, with the plant no longer operating, the company’s reductions in jobs and purchases of local services began in earnest.
At the height of its operations, Vermont Yankee employed nearly 600 people, with an annual payroll (including fringe benefits) of $82 million. Given the substantial socio-economic impact of the Vermont Yankee closure, Southwest Region Planning Commission devoted time and resources to helping the public understand the situation in the interests of developing appropriate responses and strategies.
One product of that process was the development of a white paper authored in collaboration with Windham Regional Commission (WRC), Brattleboro Development and Credit Corporation (BDCC), and Franklin Regional Council of Governments (FRCOG). The white paper summarizes key “lesson learned” regarding the management and economic impacts of the plant’s closure, which could be applicable in other cases where a major rural employer ceases to operate.
SWRPC also worked with journalist James A. Rousmaniere Jr. to develop a series of articles that focused on Vermont Yankee’s closure and the economic ramifications.
VT Yankee’s closure still casts an economic shadow over the Region and addressing the resulting job losses and other impacts will require continued regional attention and collaboration. SWRPC continues to consider its significance through its economic development planning activities.