Vermont Yankee nuclear plant

In a final order whose text could only be described as grudging at best, and scathing at worst, the Vermont Public Service board has granted Entergy’s Vermont Yankee nuclear power plant a licence to operate until only the end of the year. This is in line with operator Entergy’s plans to close the reactor in Q4, for ‘economic reasons,’ despite having received approval for a USNRC life extension in 2011.

Entergy bought the Vermont Yankee BWR in 2002, and at that time had a licence to operate it until March 2012. It announced in August 2013 that it planned at that point to shut down the reactor at the end of 2014 for economic reasons. It said it spent $400 million in the plant since its purchase.

The Vermont Public Service said that during a period of ‘unusually contentious’ litigation over the last two years in favour of Vermont Yankee life extension ‘significant concerns’ have been raised about the company’s probity: "Principally, these questions have related to whether Entergy VY has been, and could, going forward, be, a company that lives by its commitments, adheres to legal requirements, including statutes and rules, provides accurate and timely information, and generally is a fair partner for Vermont."

It seems to think it is not. "In its twelve years of operating in Vermont, Entergy VY has failed to comply with numerous Board orders and statutory requirements. It has failed to follow procedural requirements that protect the integrity of Board proceedings. The Company has engaged in unacceptable conduct that erodes public trust and confidence in its capacity to act in good faith and to engage in fair dealing; an investigative report prepared by Vermont’s Attorney General concluded that Entergy VY ‘repeatedly misled State officials with direct misstatements and repeatedly failed to clarify misperceptions.’"

It said that these concerns were tempered by the short duration of the contract extension, adding: "If Entergy VY were planning to operate the VY Station for another twenty years as originally requested, its track record may well have led us to find that ownership and operation would not promote the general good."

The deal agreed includes substantial donations to the state: $10 million over five years to promote economic development in the county where the plant is based, $5.2 million to the clean energy development fund, $25 million for site restoration over its other obligations.

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Photo: Vermont Yankee (Source Entergy)