Vt. Lawmakers Continue To Weigh Options After Vermont Yankee Decision

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(Host) Vermont officials are continuing to weigh their options after last week’s decision on the Vermont Yankee nuclear power plant.

The Vermont Legislature wanted to close the plant in March, when its current license expires. But U.S. District Judge Garvan Murtha ruled that the Legislature does not have that authority.

VPR’s Samantha Fields reports.

(Fields) Attorney General Bill Sorrell says the state has not yet decided whether it will appeal the decision in the Entergy-Vermont Yankee case.

(Sorrell) "We’re early in the process of weighing the pros and cons of an appeal and if we’re to file an appeal, then what issues to appeal and what the emphases should be."

(Fields) Judge Murtha’s 102-page ruling concluded that Vermont’s case was being made on the basis of the plant’s safety – which is not in the purview of the Legislature.

The state now has a month to decide whether or not it will appeal.

The ruling did leave open the role for the Public Service Board, which can decide whether or not to issue a "certificate of public good." The plant would need the certificate to continue operating for the next 20 years.

If Vermont Yankee does remain open, it will not be supplying power to Vermonters, at least for now. Contracts with Vermont utilities expire in March and have not been renewed.

Governor Peter Shumlin says that if the plant is not providing inexpensive power to Vermonters that can and should be a factor in the Public Service Board’s decision.

(Shumlin) "I think a lot of Vermonters are looking at the news right now going, what? This thing’s going to keep running and we don’t get any of the benefit? And the judge has suggested that the PSB can consider that in their decision. Anyway, it’s going to go to the Public Service Board, that’s certainly clear. And I have a lot of confidence in the PSB."

(Fields) The Public Service Board has not yet reactivated the case. But Vermont Yankee can continue to operate after its current permit expires in March, while its renewal application is being processed.

For VPR News, I’m Samantha Fields.

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