More than 50 experts and officials met in Putney Wednesday to begin to plan a national conference for regions and states facing nuclear plant closings.
The country will see a landslide of nuclear plant closings in the next few decades, organizer Jeff Lewis told the group. He said the economic and social impacts on those regions will be severe. But Lewis says there isn’t much information on how host communities and states can protect their interests when nuclear power plants stop operating.
"There are no benchmarks, no shared experience," Lewis says. "There is no shared learning to say, 'Here are best practices for how you negotiate this,' and, 'Here are what some of the outcomes could be.' The goal of today and of this project is to give the host communities -- and by that I mean not just the host towns but the regions -- a voice."
The meeting didn’t reach its goal of setting an agenda for a national conversation. The need for more research on many of the issues became clear. The discussions did identify some opportunities and ideas that could help the region recover after the plant closes.
Michael Dworkin directs the Vermont Law School’s Institute for Energy and the Environment.
"I think the question is, 'Will we locally be able to do something that is so interesting nationally that it feeds interest into us?" Dworkin says. "And I think some effort to think about what issues will be of interest to the 55 or so communities that have a nuclear plant, is really worth it."
Organizers say a national convention could also be an economic opportunity for Windham County.