New England Democrats this week cheered the closure of one of the country’s oldest nuclear plants in Vermont as an opportunity to develop green energy technologies.

The owner of the Vermont Yankee said Tuesday that it would close down the power plant because it is too hard to compete with electricity generated by cheap natural gas. Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) said this gives his state a chance to explore safer power options.

“Now is the time for Vermonters to refocus our attention on increasing our energy efficiency and bringing online alternative clean and renewable energy sources,” he said Tuesday. “This is added impetus for offsetting as much of Vermont Yankee’s capacity as possible through those better, cleaner and sustainable alternatives.”

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