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High school students offer Legislature statewide energy plan

MONTPELIER, Vt. --Planning the state's energy future is a high priority for the Legislature this year and lawmakers on Friday got a comprehensive plan from an unexpected source: high school seniors from The Sharon Academy.

House Natural Resources Committee members called the students' choices interesting. The students called, for example, for relicensing the Vermont Yankee nuclear power plant when its current license expires in 2012.

"One of our key motivators for these choices was to keep power sources inside Vermont," said one of the students, Sam Drazin of Norwich.

The well-spoken, well-informed group of students has spent the semester studying where Vermont gets its electricity now and the challenges the state faces to keep the lights on. Contracts for two-thirds of the state's power supply expire beginning in 2012.

Vermont Yankee is one of them, providing a third of the total. Another third comes from Hydro-Quebec.

The students concluded that the state is in a position where it will have to continue relying on those sources -- although they would reduce the supply from Hydro-Quebec -- as it continues to develop alternatives, including windmills, wood burners, solar projects and new small-scale hydroelectric dams.

Their rationale was that the state should put itself in a position to control more of its fortunes by keeping generation within... more [truncated due to possible copyright]  
House Natural Resources Committee members called the students' choices interesting. The students called, for example, for relicensing the Vermont Yankee nuclear power plant when its current license expires in 2012.

"One of our key motivators for these choices was to keep power sources inside Vermont," said one of the students, Sam Drazin of Norwich.

The well-spoken, well-informed group of students has spent the semester studying where Vermont gets its electricity now and the challenges the state faces to keep the lights on. Contracts for two-thirds of the state's power supply expire beginning in 2012.

Vermont Yankee is one of them, providing a third of the total. Another third comes from Hydro-Quebec.

The students concluded that the state is in a position where it will have to continue relying on those sources -- although they would reduce the supply from Hydro-Quebec -- as it continues to develop alternatives, including windmills, wood burners, solar projects and new small-scale hydroelectric dams.

Their rationale was that the state should put itself in a position to control more of its fortunes by keeping generation within Vermont's borders as much as possible.

"A certain degree of independence is always a good thing," said student Thomas Leddy-Cecere of Strafford. "You can be affected by things that are more under your control."

Student Jessica Wolfe of Strafford said it was about keeping jobs and tax revenues in the state, as well.

But Wolfe and others conceded there was a lot of debate at their school about continued reliance on nuclear power. "We had a two-hour class discussion. I'd say people eventually got pretty sick of arguing about it," she said, drawing knowing laughter from the lawmakers.
The students suggested a new breakdown for energy supplies. Nuclear would remain as a third of the power supply. Hydro-Quebec would drop from a third to 26 percent. Bio-mass, often thought of as wood burners, would rise to 20 percent from 5 percent. Wind supply would go from less than 1 percent to 10 percent. In-state hydroelectric production should grow from around 6 percent to 10 percent. And solar production would inch up from 0.05 percent to 0.5 percent.

Legislators were effusive in their praise for the students and their work, especially after the students defended it in questioning. "You ought to stop by the governor's office because we're still waiting for his (plan)," Senate President Pro Tem Peter Welch said. "I admire your ambition and appreciate the work you've done. It's a coherent and sensible plan."

The Department of Public Service issued a 20-year electric plan last year and is working on a comprehensive energy plan, according to its Web site.

The presentation, which the Natural Resources Committee did not solicit, dovetailed with the work the panel is doing this year. "We were absolutely thrilled at the proposal," said committee Chairman Robert Dostis, D-Waterbury. "You may not have been aware what an important issue this is for the Legislature."

Source: http://www.boston.com/news/...

JAN 20 2006
https://www.windaction.org/posts/1023-high-school-students-offer-legislature-statewide-energy-plan
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