Vermont to argue appeal on Entergy Vermont Yankee case May 9

The state of Vermont, which still hopes to force the Entergy (NYSE: ETR) Vermont Yankee nuclear plant to retire soon, will have another day in court May 9 in Washington, D.C.

That’s when oral arguments are scheduled in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit on the state appeal of an earlier federal judge’s ruling in favor of allowing the 600-MW nuclear plant to stay open. 

The state has balked at issuing Vermont Yankee a new certificate of public good although the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) has renewed the federal license for the plant, which would permit it to continue running until 2032. Vermont had hoped to see the nuclear plant retired this year when the first NRC license expired.

U.S. District Court Judge J. Garvan Murtha ruled against the state’s case in January. In February, Vermont announced that it was appealing that decision.

On April 16, Entergy filed for an amended certificate. The Vermont Public Service Board has tentatively scheduled a status conference on the application for May 2, an Entergy spokesperson said April 23.

The judge had ruled that Vermont’s policy would infringe upon NRC’s jurisdiction over nuclear plant safety. The federal judge had also agreed with Entergy’s argument that the state’s qualms about Vermont Yankee’s power contracts encroached on interstate commerce.

A three-judge panel from the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals will hear the case on May 9.

Some of Vermont’s highest-ranking elected officials have opposed a life extension for Vermont Yankee. Among the notable Vermont Yankee foes are Gov. Peter Shumlin, as well as Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt.

As for Sanders, he is publicly opposing another five-year term for NRC commission member Kristine Svinicki. In an April 19 news release, Sanders cited Svinicki’s support of the 20-year license extension for Vermont Yankee as a reason she should not be reappointed after her current term expires this summer.

The senator cited Svinicki’s 2011 vote to extend the operating license for the “problem-plagued” Vermont Yankee nuclear reactor one week after the Fukushima nuclear power plant disaster in Japan.

About Wayne Barber 4201 Articles
Wayne Barber, Chief Analyst for the GenerationHub, has been covering power generation, energy and natural resources issues at national publications for more than 20 years. Prior to joining PennWell he was editor of Generation Markets Week at SNL Financial for nine years. He has also worked as a business journalist at both McGraw-Hill and Financial Times Energy. Wayne also worked as a newspaper reporter for several years. During his career has visited nuclear reactors and coal mines as well as coal and natural gas power plants. Wayne can be reached at wayneb@pennwell.com.