Public Service commissioner questions uprate benefits

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(Host) Public Service Department Commissioner David O’Brien says the owners of the Vermont Yankee Nuclear Power plant have yet to convince the state that an expansion at the facility is in the best interests of Vermont ratepayers. Entergy, the company that owns Vermont Yankee, has proposed a 20% increase in generating capacity at the Vernon reactor.

Speaking Tuesday night on VPR’s Switchboard program, O’Brien says the state is not supporting the plan at this time because there’s no clear benefit for Vermont consumers:

(O’Brien) “Now with Vermont Yankee, the 20% increase in power is not necessarily going to be coming to Vermont ratepayers. Obviously the facility is no longer owned by utilities in the state. So the question before us is, does this increase of 110 megawatts of power being sold in the wholesale market benefit Vermont ratepayers?”

(Host) The Public Service Board will hold hearings on the expansion plan in September. O’Brien isn’t sure that the owners of Vermont Yankee will make an offer to the state before those hearings begin:

(O’Brien) “I’d be cautious to characterize the conversations that go on and try to say and handicap what’s going to happen. I just would leave it this way: basically we’ve made it very clear from our initial testimony to this day what the issues are that we see. And if we are shown a persuasive argument or proposal for the state that we can support, then that’d be a different case. And right now we’re not there.”

(Host) O’Brien says it’s unlikely that his department will investigate any safety concerns concerning the expansion project. O’Brien says he expects that those issues will be reviewed by the federal Nuclear Regulatory Commission.

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