A Keene-based regional planning commission plans to bring together public and private resources to address the socioeconomic impact on the region from the closure of the Vermont Yankee nuclear power plant.
Southwest Region Planning Commission officials announced recently they will launch the effort with the goal of coordinating a strategy that draws on public and private interests in the tri-state area of New Hampshire, Vermont and Massachusetts.
The strategy will help the region respond to the estimated $100 million loss in annual local income projected when the first phase of Vermont Yankee’s decommissioning process is finished in about six years, according to a news release from the planning commission.
During that time, the number of people employed at the facility is projected to first drop from about 550 to 316 on Jan. 19, and then to 127 in April 2016, according to Vermont Yankee officials.
A third round of cuts will be made after 2020, when the number of employees will decrease to 50 or 60 people.
The planning commission is also seeking to pull together economic development agencies and government officials in areas affected by the shutdown, the news release said.
About one-third of the projected economic loss would affect the Monadnock Region, the news release said, citing a report by the Donahue Institute at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst.
The report was released in December 2014 by the Brattleboro Development Credit Corp., the Franklin (County) Regional Council of Governments, which is based in Massachusetts, the Southwest Region Planning Commission and the Windham Regional Commission.
According to the study, the tri-state region will lose more than 1,100 jobs and $480 million in annual economic activity over the next six years in the wake of the plant’s closure and subsequent decommissioning.
Vermont Yankee, which is on the banks of the Connecticut River in Vernon, Vt. shut down for good on Dec. 29, 2014, after 42 years in operation. It’s owned by Louisiana-based Entergy Corp.
Construction of Vermont Yankee began in 1967, and it was commissioned in 1972 with a license from the Nuclear Regulatory Commission to operate for 40 years. The commission renewed the facility’s license for another 20 years in 2011.
In August 2013, Entergy announced it would close the facility at the end of 2014 for financial reasons.
Timothy P. Murphy, executive director of the Southwest Region Planning Commission, said in the news release that a regional response is needed in the wake of the plant’s closure because the effect will span three rural counties in three states.
“We have a choice,” he said. “We can stand back and hope that some new economic engine will chug into the region and make up the difference, or we can help get folks talking about strategic steps to encourage new economic activity.”
The planning commission has recently made a section of its website dedicated to the economics of Vermont Yankee’s closure. The information can be found at www.swrpc.org/vermontyankee.