After years of contentious debate and legal battles, the state of Vermont and Entergy, the company that owns the Vermont Yankee Nuclear Power Plant announced on Monday afternoon that a settlement has been reached that will end all ongoing litigation and delineate a compressed decommissioning schedule.
Vermont officials and Entergy Vermont Yankee announced a settlement agreement that will resolve all litigation surrounding the plant and deal with decommissioning and site restoration when nuclear operations cease at the end of 2014. Governor Peter Shumlin outlined the highlights of the agreement. “Vermont will stand with Entergy before the Public Service Board in requesting that the plant continue to operate through 2014, as Entergy has requested. We also will put an end to all of the outstanding legal disputes between the state of Vermont and Entergy. This agreement allows us to establish a path to decommissioning. We will begin that decommissioning process within 120 days of the fund having adequate money in it to decommission.”
The NRC allows four years for analysis to determine the costs of decommissioning. Entergy has agreed to compress the timeframe to one year. The company will also accelerate the movement of spent fuel to dry cask in seven years.
Vermont Attorney General Bill Sorrell notes that the agreement settles a number of questions, but many more issues remain unresolved for the future as Entergy and the state move toward decommissioning. “There are hugely important issues going forward. The decommissioning of the plant, what is that gonna entail? How long will it be before that can happen? And then, decommissioning is set by the federal authorities as sort of a standard of what you need to do at a site for where there’s a nuclear power plant that is off line. But we want to go beyond that. And so, part of this agreement is the $25 million that Entergy will set aside for site restoration beyond basic decommissioning. “
Under the agreement, Entergy will provide $10 million for economic development to Windham County and $5.2 million in clean energy development support for Windham County and elsewhere in the state. Windham County state Senator Jeannette White had hoped there would be economic development funds targeting the county in which the plant operates. “There’s a lot of economic development that needs to happen here to replace what we’re losing. And there are plans in place, there’s a group down here, that’s been working on an economic development plan post-VY for a long time. But we need funding for it and clearly the state is in no position to give us the additional funding we need.”
Ethan Allen Institute Energy Education Project Director Meredith Angwin has worked in the power industry and pens the blog Yes Vermont Yankee. She notes that the Public Service Board, which has a case involving the plant, was not involved and expects some controversy to continue. “What they really kind-of announced is that the Department of Public Service would advocate for this agrement before the Public Service Board. And the Department of Public Service carries a lot of weight. The Public Service Board still has to rule, but the intervenors will have plenty of time in front of the Public Service Board to say ‘no, no that’s a terrible idea, that’s a terrible idea.”
Audio from the governor’s press conference is courtesy of VTDigger-dot-org. Calls to Entergy-Vermont Yankee were not returned in time for this broadcast.