Senate Committee Looks At Economic Consequences of Vermont Yankee Closure
04/02/12 6:34AM By Susan Keese
Members of the state Senate Economic Development Committee continue to look for ways to deal with the economic consequences of closing Vermont Yankee.
Last year, legislators set aside $50,000 for a regional study that included a look at the ripple effects of losing as many as 650 of the region's highest paying jobs.
When the committee returned to Brattleboro on Friday, it got an earful of ideas, requests and new concerns.
Marlboro College President Ellen McCulloch Lovell addressed the prospect of a collaborative college campus in downtown Brattleboro.
(McCulloch Lovell) "I ask you to imagine what we could do if Marlboro College, World learning, Landmark, Union Institute, UVM and the state colleges were to combine our resources in a public private partnership to benefit Windham County."
Many praised an amendment to the miscellaneous tax bill just passed by the House that's now headed to the senate.
The measure would raise Vermont Yankee's generating tax, to replace $6 million in revenues the plant no longer has to pay Vermont.
Winhall Representative Oliver Olsen, who introduced the amendment, says much of that $6 million would go to the state's clean energy and education funds.
(Olsen) "And then the final one and a half million dollars would go to a special fund to help the Windham County region mitigate the impact of the closure of Vermont Yankee. You can't just have the state force the plant to close at an early date and not provide some economic assistance to help the region."
Members of the local development group leading the effort say that Windham County is already struggling, with an average wage that's among the lowest in the state.
They say that whether the plant closes soon, or in another decade or so, the region will definitely need help.