Monday, April 18, 2011

U.S. District Court to Decide Vermont Yankee’s Future

Entergy filed a complaint today with the U.S. District Court to seek “a judgment to prevent the state of Vermont from forcing the Vermont Yankee nuclear power plant to cease operation on March 21, 2012.” Looks like they have a solid case, though I’m not a lawyer so don’t quote me. Here’s one of the more notables lines from Entergy’s statement:

“We have made every reasonable effort to accommodate the state of Vermont and its officials while allowing the continued operation of Vermont Yankee – an outcome that benefits all stakeholders, including Vermont consumers and the approximately 650 men and women who work at the plant,” said Richard Smith, president of Entergy Wholesale Commodities. “Despite the fact that Vermont Yankee is important to the reliability of the New England electric transmission grid, emits virtually no greenhouse gases, and provides more than $100 million in annual economic benefits to the state of Vermont, it has been made clear that state officials are singularly focused on shutting down the plant. That has left us with no other choice but to seek relief in the court system.”

Stay tuned.

Update, 12:05: Yes Vermont Yankee has more on the suit.

3 comments:

jimwg said...

On what knee-jerk PC basis other than sheer fear?

James Greenidge

Dougtheheadhunter said...

So what's behind the state's desire to reduce the amount of electricity in the NE grid?

Anonymous said...

Is the Good Life Possible with Vermont Yankee?

Vermont has “pro-nukes,” “anti-nukes” and those residents not seeming to fit in either group…perhaps there’s room for another category entitled, “anti-Vermont Yankee?” Some Vermonters have said they’re not against nuclear power, (if) the leaks can be stopped, the spent fuel rod storage problem can be solved and the structures can be fabricated to withstand all possible weather anomalies.

Vermont Yankee (VY) is located in the town of Vernon which sits in the southeastern corner of the state at the junction formed by the Connecticut River and the Massachusetts border, and was once actually a part of the town of Hinsdale, NH. Purportedly, Vernon’s 2141 people have even discussed seceding from Vermont (to either NH or MA) if the Legislature refuses to grant VY a license extension beyond 2012.

VY, operating since 1972 and employing about 650 people, is the state’s largest power source with a nominal 540 megawatt boiling water reactor, and is one of five operating nuclear plants in New England. In 2002, VY was sold by eight New England utilities to Entergy Nuclear Vermont Yankee, LLC, a subsidiary of the Entergy Corporation of New Orleans, the second largest nuclear generator in the US.

In February of 2010, the VT Senate voted 26-4 against allowing the Public Service Board (PSB) to consider re-certifying VY after 2012, citing radioactive (tritium) leaks, misstatements in testimony by plant officials, a cooling tower collapse in 2007 and other problems. In the event the PSB refuses to issue them a Certificate of Public Good, VY could elect to continue to operate and the case would be decided in court, since the federal Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) has recently granted a license renewal to operate until 2032.

So, where does all this see-sawing leave the customer who’s concerned about how high electric bills will be if VY closes? Since the Vernon plant supplies about a third of the state’s total power, how will that amount be replaced? The average Vermont Electric Cooperative (VEC) member would pay between 50 & 60 cents extra each month if VY closes. Replacement power will have to be purchased from the New England grid, which isn’t the most cost-effective way to obtain electricity, but it appears to be the best option right now.

If Vermont Yankee’s past record predicts its future and safety modifications aren’t made, many Vermonters feel it should be closed permanently. Most VEC members seem to agree. Perhaps divining its prospects, two days after Peter Shumlin became the new VT Governor, Entergy put Vermont Yankee up for sale.

(Don Worth is the Director for District 1 on the VEC Board of Directors and is running for re-election in May. The foregoing does not express the opinion of VEC or its Board.)