Entergy, state reach deal on Vermont Yankee decommissioning

Entergy (NYSE:ETR) and Vermont officials said Dec. 23 that they have agreed to a deal that calls for “timely decommissioning” and restoration of the Vermont Yankee nuclear plant once that facility is retired in 2014.

A big part of the deal includes Entergy’s agreement to promptly decommission the site. Entergy had previously said that it would use the safe storage (SAFSTOR) option that could take 60 years to achieve full decommissioning.

As part of the settlement of outstanding legal issues between Entergy and the state, Entergy has pledged $10m in economic development funding for Windham County and $5.2m in clean energy development support for Windham County and elsewhere, as well as a transitional $5m payment to the state for calendar year 2015. Entergy Nuclear Vermont Yankee will also set aside a new $25m fund to ensure the site is restored after decommissioning.

In exchange, the State has agreed to support Entergy VY’s pending request before the Board for a Certificate of Public Good (CPG) to operate for only one additional year, through the end of 2014, and to resolve all other outstanding lawsuits related to the plant.

The agreement also sets a path for decommissioning Vermont Yankee as promptly as funds in the Nuclear Decommissioning Trust allow, rather than delaying decommissioning for up to 60 years regardless of fund adequacy as would otherwise be permitted under the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) SAFSTOR guidelines.

Entergy VY also commits in the agreement to prepare a site assessment and cost study by the end of 2014, two years earlier than NRC rules otherwise would require, to help provide greater certainty regarding the plant’s decommissioning and related activities.  

Deal closes book on state litigation with Vermont Yankee

The agreement was announced by Gov. Peter Shumlin, Attorney General Bill Sorrell, and Bill Mohl, President of Entergy Wholesale Commodities.

Although Entergy had successfully fought off a number of state legal challenges to the plant and won a 20-year license extension from NRC, Entergy announced in late August that it would close the roughly 600-MW boiling water reactor (BWR) in 2014.

The company blamed a combination of financial factors that resulted in the retirement decision. They included what Entergy deemed “artificially low” energy and capacity prices in New England.

Separately, the governor called upon the legislature to expand the role of the Vermont State Nuclear Advisory Panel (VSNAP) to include additional citizen members and to include review of and comment upon decommissioning within the panel’s purview to help inform the public throughout the decommissioning process as it proceeds. The governor also noted that the Vermont congressional delegation has been briefed on the agreement.

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.