Three Counties In Three States Brace For Impact Of Yankee Closure

Dec 24, 2014

When it comes to the economy in this part of New England, ignore the state borders, says Linda Dunlavey. She’s head of the Franklin Regional Council of Governments based in Greenfield, Massachusetts.

Not far from where she sits, the Vermont Yankee Nuclear Power Plant in Windham County is about to shut down for a final time. She says she’s paying attention to the overlaps — of the towns she works with, and with nearby towns in Vermont, and Cheshire County, New Hampshire.

“We share labor pools. We share jobs. We share transportation corridors and economic corridors,” she says.

But what about the shared economic unknowns of the reactor shutdown on Monday?

This three-county economy is expected to take quite a hit.

"My concern, anecdotally, is we can’t see how it’s going to manifest itself,” says Chris Campany, Dunlavey’s Vermont counterpart.

Campany says he’s counting on the $10 million of economic development money that Vermont Yankee’s parent company, Entergy, has promised.

"We share labor pools. We share jobs. We share transportation corridors and economic corridors." - Linda Dunlavey, Franklin Regional Council of Governments

 The three counties – Windham, Cheshire and Franklin – went in together to hire the Donahue Institute at the University of Massachusetts to look into their mutual economic concerns.

“The Vermont Yankee closure is taking place at a time when the tri-county economy is underperforming, basically,” says UMass researcher Branner Stewart. “We’ll see what happens in coming years.”

The study – released December 24 – says about 40 jobs will be lost every year in the tri-county area for the next six years. At the same time, the report says, wages will fall.

Vermont Yankee pays higher wages than jobs in other sectors in the region – and those wages supported a lot of retail and property purchases.

The plant’s employment in the region has already fallen by half, from 1,200 to 600 employees. Those remaining will leave the plant in phases over the next few years as the decommissioning process moves forward.

Some of those employees will move away, while others will stay and try to find jobs in other fields in the area.

This story originally aired on New England Public Radio and was republished with permission by VPR.