Vermont Yankee Buyers May Boost Power Output

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(Host) A Louisiana company wants to squeeze more life out of an aging Vermont nuclear power plant. But an anti-nuclear group says that before the Entergy Corporation can crank more power out of Vermont Yankee, it first needs permission from the Vermont Legislature.

VPR’s John Dillon has more.

(Dillon) Vermont Yankee now produces about 540 megawatts of electricity. The Entergy Corporation based in Louisiana wants to buy the plant and company officials say they can retrofit the reactor to boost power output by 13%.

But a lawyer for the New England Coalition on Nuclear Pollution says the Legislature and the Public Service Board must review the power upgrade. Middlebury lawyer James Dumont represents the anti-nuclear group:

(Dumont) “If we’re going to increase the production of Vermont’s only nuclear power plant, if we’re going to increase the amount of radioactive fuel brought into Vermont, fuel used at Vermont and highly radioactive that’s going to be stored at the Vermont site after it’s used for god knows how many years, let’s comply with Vermont law. And that means give the General Assembly a chance to review this¿. And maybe the people of Vermont will say: `We don’t want this.'”

(Dillon) New power plants require an Act 248 permit, which involves a similar review to the Act 250 land use law. And with nuclear plants, the Legislature must also grant approval. Dumont tried a similar legal argument last winter. But he lost when the Public Service Board said the power upgrade plan wasn’t yet on the table.

Jill Smith, an Entergy spokesman says nothing is definite yet. She says the company is just studying the proposal:

(Smith) “Based on Entergy’s experience in the industry, we think there is the potential for about a 13% uprate by 2006. However we won’t know for certain until we complete all our studies¿. If we decide to pursue a power uprate, we’ll then have our local counsel review the regulatory requirements.”

(Dillon) The Public Service Board is now reviewing the Yankee sale. Dumont says Entergy witnesses have made it clear that they want to boost the reactor output:

(Dumont) “We’ve learned that there’s no doubt, absolutely no doubt that Entergy is going to do an uprate and they’re going to start doing it as soon as they get ownership of the plant.”

(Dillon) Entergy also has said it wants to extend Yankee’s license beyond 2012. The company has promised to get state approval for the license extension.

For Vermont Public Radio, I’m John Dillon.

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