Degree Name

MA in Sustainable Development

First Advisor

Nikoi Kote-Nikio


This case study provides an in-depth look into the campaign to retire an aging nuclear power plant located in the southeast corner of Vermont. The Vermont Yankee Nuclear Power Station (VY) began commercial operations in 1972 under a forty year operating license issued by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC). Opposition to the plant’s existence has been unwavering and has increased in intensity since the sale of the plant in 2002. The Vermont Yankee Nuclear Power Corporation (VYNPC), a consortium of local and regional utilities, sold VY to an out-of-state corporation owner known as Entergy. The company was quick to apply for approvals from the state and federal governments, to increase the plant’s power production, to store spent nuclear fuel on-site and for a twenty year license extension. Advocates were unsuccessful at blocking the power up-rate and the construction of an on-site spent fuel storage facility, but were successful in blocking the plant’s license extension.

Advocates new in order to be successful they must collaborate in an effort to pass legislation that would bring the power of deciding VY’s fate to Vermont’s General Assembly and ultimately the people. The decision was made to form a coalition… Safe Power Vermont. In 2006, the coalition and its supporters won the passage of ACT 160, which empowered the legislature to vote on VY’s continued operation based on issues related to reliability and economics. The coalition was successful again when in 2010 the Vermont Senate voted not to considered the plant for continued operation past March 2012. Currently, the legality of the legislation is under scrutiny in a federal district court in a case brought by Entergy.

The case study narrative follows the arch of VY’s operational life and history while tracking the evolution of the campaign by highlighting key moments that facilitated outcomes. J. Unsicker’s “Advocacy Circles” Map is used as a method of organizing information and as a lens to analyze the data. This is done in an effort to assist other advocates in succeeding in similar movements across the United States. The research and prospective given here, has been acquired from personal experience collaborating directly with local and regional advocacy groups involved in the campaign, as well as independent research.


Civic and Community Engagement | Energy Policy | Energy Systems | Environmental Policy


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