On July 1, a group of people opposed to Vermont Yankee protested at the plant gates; their protest included a hollow "Trojan Cow." Some protesters pulled mock solar panels out of the cow, while others held whirligigs representing wind turbines. The cow sculpture included cow plop, representing "Cow Power" - farm methane. The theme was clear: Vermont Yankee will be replaced with renewables!
A Trojan Horse (or cow) is the symbol of deception. The event organizers chose this symbol. It was very apt. They attempted to deceive the public that closing Vermont Yankee would bring a burst of renewables to market. It will not. Closing Vermont Yankee would mean buying more power from the New England grid. Grid power is approximately 58 percent fossil, 28 percent nuclear and 12 percent hydro plus renewables. Wind, solar and farm methane, together, total less than 1 percent of the power generated in New England. (Information from the website of the New England grid operator.)
What would closing Vermont Yankee mean? More solar panels? No. With or without VY, renewables are expensive, and they are not coming on line quickly. Fossil plants supply the majority of grid power, but many fossil plants only operate part-time. Closing Vermont Yankee would mean that fossil plants will run longer hours and make more power. If the protestors had been accurate, they would have pulled a model of a gas or coal plant from the Trojan Cow's belly, not a cardboard solar panel.
Meredith Angwin is the Director of the Energy Education Project of the Ethan Allen Institute.