POWER STRUGGLE chronicles a rare victory of grassroots activists - a successful citizens’ effort to protect the environment by shutting down an aging nuclear power plant in Vermont. 

A timely inspiring story of democracy in action, the climate justice movement, and the power of citizens’ voices against big moneyed interests. 

POWER STRUGGLE is excellent for catalyzing classroom and community discussions about what ordinary citizens can do to affect change.

Both 86-minute and 52-minute versions are included on the DVD, Blu-ray, and digital streaming on New Day Films and Kanopy (www.kanopy.com/product/power-struggle).

SPECIAL OFFER: To support educators who have moved to online teaching due to COVID-19, you may access a free 14-day streaming license from New Day Films through June 1st. In addition, you may also access free streaming during the month of June, by entering this coupon code (POWER-STRUGGLE-06-2020) during checkout for a 14-day streaming license. 

To request an online speaking presentation or classroom Q & A with filmmaker Robbie Leppzer, email him at: robbie@turningtide.com.

POWER STRUGGLE is the remarkable story about how people power overcame corporate power and government cover-ups to finally shut down an aging and dangerous nuclear plant. We see how small town citizens were transformed into tenacious environmental activists who triumphed against the odds. POWER STRUGGLE is a hopeful story that reminds us that citizen activism is not just possible, it is essential to saving our endangered planet.”

David Goodman, best-selling author, journalist and radio host, THE VERMONT CONVERSATION

POWER STRUGGLE is a compelling story that gives audiences hope that grassroots activism can be effective at bringing about positive social change in the world. 

Filmed over five years, this feature-length documentary portrays the heated political battle to close the Vermont Yankee nuclear power plant, located on the banks of the Connecticut River in southern Vermont. 

POWER STRUGGLE follows the unfolding drama as citizen activists and elected state officials—alarmed at increasing safety violations—take on the federal government and one of the biggest power companies in the United States and eventually win.

The film captures perspectives on all sides of the controversy, including from local residents both for and against nuclear power, elected officials (including U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders and Vermont Governor Peter Shumlin), nuclear engineer Arnie Gundersen, a Vermont Yankee spokesperson, federal nuclear regulators, and the legendary activist Frances Crowe. 

POWER STRUGGLE puts nuclear power and the long-term hazards of radioactive waste on the radar screen for current debates about environmental protection and the ethical impact of technology on our society.  It is one of the only films that links nuclear power and the climate justice movement. 

Customers who purchase a DVD, Blu-ray or digital streaming options on New Day Films and Kanopy will receive both the 86-minute and 52-minute versions of POWER STRUGGLE.


In this time of political turmoil and despair about the future of our planet, numerous educators have found POWER STRUGGLE to be a compelling classroom tool that engages students in discussion, stimulates young people to think about their role in society and, most importantly, gives them hope that people can make a difference through collective action.  (See below for review quotes from professors and journalists.)

POWER STRUGGLE motivates students to become active change agents. This film is particularly effective in courses related to:

• Political Science

• Sociology

• Environmental Studies

• Science and Technology

• Communication

• Film Studies

• Journalism

Particularly useful for educators, the DVD and Blu-ray features a chapter menu for easy navigation to particular scenes in the film to use as discussion catalysts.

Download PDF Info Packet For Educators: 

Filmmaker Robbie Leppzer is available to speak with POWER STRUGGLE on colleges campuses and at high schools to participate in a classroom or large forum Q & A with students — either in person or via an online video link.  In addition, he can present a retrospective of his documentary films chronicling 40 years of grassroots social change activism.  For more information, download “College Speaking Programs by Documentary Filmmaker Robbie Leppzer”(PDF):  www.turningtide.com/pdfs/LeppzerSpeaker2019_+_Doc_Flyers.pdf

To inquire about a speaker presentation, or request a free preview of the film for evaluation purposes, please email Robbie Leppzer: robbie@turningtide.com.


POWER STRUGGLE is an effective classroom tool to catalyze discussions, inspire students to think critically about political and corporate power structures, and encourage people to become active change agents in the world.  The film is also a compelling primer on persuasive communication by grassroots activists influencing elected officials and public opinion about one of the burning issues of our time.”

Sut Jhally, Chair, Department of Communication, University of Massachusetts-Amherst; Executive Director, Media Education Foundation

POWER STRUGGLE is both frightening and inspiring. Frightening in the matter-of-fact way in which it reminds viewers of the threat to human health that nuclear power plants continue to pose. Inspiring for the story of ordinary people who refuse to accept that risk. Director Robbie Leppzer patiently follows the story over years, and celebrates how citizen engagement eventually prevailed, but wisely avoids imposing a happy ending, by reminding us about the long-term legacy of the nuclear waste that gets left behind. These kinds of stories, so important to creating a more deeply democratic society, would often go untold without independent media. For more than four decades, Leppzer has been an exemplar of that independence, combining a mastery of the craft of storytelling through documentary films with an incisive analysis of how power operates. POWER STRUGGLE is journalism at its best.”

Robert Jensen, Professor Emeritus of Journalism, University of Texas at Austin

POWER STRUGGLE should ensure engaging conversations on a number of topics, including the role that citizens can play in a participatory democracy, the fight for a safe and sustainable energy future, and the long-term impact of nuclear technology on our society.”

Kate Purdie Professor, Department of Visual & Performing Arts, Bennington College

“With his documentary film POWER STRUGGLE, Robbie Leppzer has created an important and detailed study of a social movement in a specific political and environmental campaign. This film can be used in university and high school classrooms to show what it means to organize around a social, political, or environmental issue. I hope this film will be widely used in a broad range of classes that are teaching strategies and methods for policy advocacy, political organizing, and social action.”

Professor Dr. John Ungerleider, Former Chair of Peacebuilding and Conflict Transformation M.A., School For International Training Graduate Institute; Adjunct Faculty at Brandeis College, Marlboro College, Community College of Vermont

“A genuine David vs. Goliath battle. A rich story of whether grassroots democracy, in the form of citizens and local government, can triumph over entrenched, powerful interests like the nuclear energy industry. Through a story with many twists and turns, Leppzer keeps the film’s focus on the individuals caught up in the drama.”

Director's Commentary: 

In Memoriam: March 15, 1919 - August 27, 2019

The legendary activist, Frances Crowe, who lived to be 100, is featured prominently in POWER STRUGGLE.

Frances was a stellar light in western Massachusetts, inspiring thousands of people to become social justice and peace activists.

I feel very honored and personally inspired to have known Frances for over 40 years.

I first met Frances when I was 18 as a college student at Hampshire College in 1976.  Within a month of arriving in the Pioneer Valley, I was in Frances’ car driving to a peace demonstration in Washington, DC.

In May 1977, I filmed my first interview with Frances at the mass civil disobedience protest on the construction site of a nuclear reactor in Seabrook, New Hampshire, for my first documentary, SEABROOK 1977.  

In March 2019, when Frances celebrated her 100th birthday, she was joined by hundreds of people marching through the streets of Northampton, MA. I made a short film about this uplifting day, FRANCES TURNS 100

On August 29, 2019 Amy Goodman, host of DEMOCRACY NOW, a global daily television and radio news program, featured an in-depth tribute to Frances, which featured extensive scenes of Frances protesting at the Vermont Yankee nuclear power plant from POWER STRUGGLE, along with a 2005 interview with Frances conducted by Amy. It was a very moving tribute. 

While Frances will be sorely missed, her legacy of activism lives on in the countless people she inspired to join movements for grassroots social change.

As Frances says about her life of activism in POWER STRUGGLE, “You can't do it alone. You need community to do this, so that you can support one another and move ahead together.”

In particular, I feel heartened that Frances’ activism — and those of other activists from Vermont and western Massachusetts who participated in the struggle to close down the Vermont Yankee nuclear reactor — will continue to inspire people who see POWER STRUGGLE, as this film chronicles a rare victory of grassroots activists who actually won.  

For more information on Frances’ long life of activism about a diversity of issues and to view clips of the videos mentioned above, visit: www.powerstrugglemovie.com/frances-crowe

— Robbie Leppzer