Entergy Wants Prompt OK To Operate For 20 More Years

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(Host) The head of the Entergy Corporation says the company will seek state permission to operate the Vermont Yankee plant for another 20 years.

Entergy CEO Wayne Leonard says a recent ruling by a federal court means the state should issue a new permit without delay.

VPR’s John Dillon has more:

(Dillon) Wayne Leonard’s comments were his first since Entergy won a federal court ruling that struck down a state law that would have forced the plant to close in March.

Leonard told investors in a conference call that Entergy may also try to collect its legal fees from the state now that it has won in federal court.

(Leonard) "In addition, today we filed a motion with the Vermont Public Service Board asking the board to take action in the existing CPG docket without further proceeding, to grant a new CPG or extend the existing one to permit operations of VY through March 21, 2032."

(Dillon) The CPG that Leonard refers to is the "certificate of public good" that Entergy needs from the state.

Leonard said the Public Service Board  completed its review of Entergy’s case in 2009, although a final decision was put on hold as the Legislature debated Yankee’s continued operation. U-S District Judge Garvan Murtha struck down the law allowing the legislative veto over Yankee. But the judge left a role for Public Service Board to decide Yankee’s future.

According to Leonard, Vermont regulators do not need to hold more hearings because the scope of their review was restricted by Murtha’s decision.

(Leonard) "With the judge finding that no nuclear safety or power contract issues can be the basis for denial we believe there is nothing standing in the way of a new CPG."

(Dillon) The state Department of Public Service represents ratepayers and the Shumlin Administration in hearings before the board. Commissioner Elizabeth Miller said she hasn’t had time to fully review Entergy’s request for a new state certificate without additional hearings. But she said the Public Service Board may want to look at how the utility landscape has changed since 2009.

(Miller) "That’s an interesting question. What would have to happen is a look at what the record, what has happened in the interim and how that compares with the criteria that the board has to apply. And I think that’s the inquiry we’ll be making."

(Dillon) In the two and a half years since the PSB held hearings in the Yankee case, wholesale electricity prices have changed and Vermont utilities have lined up replacement power from other sources.

Bob Stannard is a lobbyist for Citizens Action Network, a group that wants Yankee shutdown. He said the Public Service Board has to decide whether Yankee’s continued operation is in the public interest.

(Stannard) "We’re not doing any business with this company. And the only thing we’re getting from them is leaks, a heated river, radiation in the ground and frankly mistruths and misrepresentation. With the exception of a handful of jobs down there I don’t see that there’s any public good in keeping this entity going."

(Dillon) Entergy says there’s no need for the board to review more evidence or take additional testimony. And making that argument to the PSB will be Kathleen Sullivan, the same lawyer who successfully represented Yankee in the federal court case.

For VPR News, I’m John Dillon in Montpelier.

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