Reasonable people can disagree on the need for nuclear power, but their arguments must be based on facts. In a letter printed on Friday, Nov. 4, Peter Van der Does said Vermont Yankee could be replaced by windmills. This is not factual.
Nuclear power cannot be replaced by windmills because it is baseload, supplying a constant amount of electricity for a determined period of time. Vermont Yankee runs nearly 100 percent of the time, day and night, until it is shutdown every 18 months for refueling. The most efficient wind turbines run about 35 percent of the time, and nobody can predict when they will actually be generating electricity because nobody can predict when the wind will be blowing.
Even if we pretend that wind power were baseload and could provide sufficient electricity at the times that it’s needed, it would take nearly 1,300 large wind turbines to generate as much electricity as Vermont Yankee. Mr. Van der Does says these wind turbines will fit on 5/8 of a mile of Vermont ridgelines, which is simply absurd.
Whether you support Vermont Yankee or want it shut down in 2012, this kind of misinformation adds nothing to a serious debate about Vermont’s energy future.