Vermont needs bold leadership now to secure our energy future – without Vermont Yankee. Our legislative leaders should vote now on the relicensing of Vermont Yankee. A vote now will enable a responsible transition for the plant employees and provide a safer, and more prosperous energy future for Vermont. Safety first. Last week's news of radioactive leaks from Vermont Yankee brings into clear focus the safety risks we cannot afford to take with our aging nuclear plant. Job creation and retention is critical for Vermont, but safety must be our first concern. It seems like every few months there is a news story about a mishap at the plant – collapsing cooling towers, failure to monitor high level radioactive waste, leaks of radioactive steam. Entergy officials even gave inaccurate information under oath to the Vermont Public Service Board about underground pipes now leaking the radioactive isotope tritium into groundwater flowing into the Connecticut River. This raises serious questions about trust in Entergy's representations about the plant's safety and its ability to operate for an additional twenty years. Secure our energy future. Vermont Yankee will cost our economy dearly if we do not move today towards our post-Entergy future – one with cleaner and lower cost power. Federal law gives Vermont two choices — relicense the plant for 20 years or shut it down. The need for a decision on Vermont Yankee should not come as a surprise. We knew 40 years ago that in 2012 Vermont Yankee might need to be replaced. Ideally, we would have a plan in place by now for a responsible transition from nuclear to local renewable energy. But we don't. The current administration rejected opportunities to buy dams on the Connecticut River, shortchanged energy efficiency, and resisted developing wind power in Vermont. As the next governor, I will provide the leadership to move Vermont to a clean energy future, but the process must begin now. I know the cost of power matters for our businesses, families and communities. I pay the bills for my family and, for nearly 12 years, the Secretary of State's office. The new power contract offered by Entergy is higher than the price of power on the New England market today. We can enter into short term contracts that will benefit consumers, while we begin the transition to Vermont renewable energy. We must also discuss a new long-term power contract with our other electricity partner – Hydro-Quebec. Hydro-Quebec offers us a great opportunity to talk about a long term, low-rate contract in exchange for helping them bring power through Vermont to the rest of New England. Jobs. A swift vote on Entergy's future in Vermont gives workers at Vermont Yankee time to plan and prepare for new opportunities. I take very seriously the challenge of retraining workers and ensuring the communities where those workers live continue to prosper. These smart, hard-working men and women are key to building the renewable energy future we all can support. This transition from Vermont Yankee will create new jobs for Vermonters. According to a report by the Center for American Progress, every $1 billion dollars invested in a power plant creates only 870 jobs. That same billion dollars invested in renewable energy projects creates 1,700 jobs. When invested in building retrofits, that billion dollars leads to as many as 6,000 jobs. Vermont leads the nation in energy efficiency but we must do even more. Redoubling our investments in efficiency reduces costs for consumers and businesses, reduces our carbon footprint and creates good jobs. Vermont is the proud home to leaders in renewable energy technology. We can partner with the private sector to support Vermont workers by investing in energy efficiency and Vermont renewable energy alternatives to Vermont Yankee. As a candidate for governor and as a concerned Vermonter my message is clear: No more studies and no more lobbyists. Act now so we can begin to prepare Vermont for a safe, reliable and affordable energy future.
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