US Entergy sells Vermont Yankee NPP to Northstar

15 November 2016

US power company Entergy said on 8 November, it had reached an agreement with dismantling and remediation firm NorthStar Group Services to sell the closed Vermont Yankee NPP and transfer the plant's licences to subsidiaries of NorthStar. Vermont Yankee is a single-unit 604MWe boiling water reactor which was shut down in December 2014 for economic reasons, although safety regulators had granted a licence for the unit to operate until 2032.

Entergy said the decommissioning Vermont Yankee would be significantly accelerated by the sale. The transaction is subject to closing conditions, including from the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) and the Vermont Public Service Board. Entergy and NorthStar will also seek approval from the Public Service Board for proposed site restoration standards. They expect the transaction will close by the end of 2018.

Entergy did not reveal the price that NorthStar will pay for the plant, but said it would "receive nominal cash consideration and a promissory note payable to Entergy in an amount equal to the amount owed at the time of the closing under a credit facility to finance Vermont Yankee's dry fuel storage costs". This credit facility will be either assumed or refinanced by an Entergy subsidiary at or before the closing. The transfer will include the plant's nuclear decommissioning trust and its obligations for used fuel management and decommissioning. Entergy said the transaction "is expected to result in a loss at closing, the amount of which cannot be determined at this time, based on the difference between Entergy's book basis in Vermont Yankee at the time of closing and the sale price plus any agreed adjustments".

Entergy originally planned to begin decontamination and dismantling of Vermont Yankee in 2068, with decommissioning and site restoration expected to be completed by 2075. However, NorthStar has agreed to start decontamination and dismantling work by 2021 and to complete decommissioning and site restoration - with the exception of the Independent Spent Fuel Storage Installation (ISFSF) by 2030. NorthStar would then continue operating and maintaining the ISFSF "until the US Department of Energy fulfils its statutory and contractual obligations" to remove all of the used nuclear fuel from Vermont Yankee. The company would then decommission the ISFSF, terminate the NRC licence and complete site restoration.

Entergy has also said it will accelerate the transfer of all used fuel to dry cask storage at Vermont Yankee from 2020 to 2018. Last December, the company announced plans to start transferring the used fuel from wet to dry storage in 2017, two years earlier than originally planned. According to that timetable, the transfer of all fuel in the plant's used fuel pool to dry cask storage would have been completed by the end of 2020.

NorthStar is joining with Areva, Waste Control Specialists (WCS) and Burns & McDonnell to offer specialised services drawing on each company's core competencies. Areva will be responsible for reactor vessel and internals segmentation and used fuel management support, including waste disposal transportation services. WCS will be responsible for waste management, packaging, transportation and disposal, while Burns & McDonnell will provide engineering and regulatory support.

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