Entergy to close, decommission Vermont Yankee - Updated 10:43 a.m.
By Susan Smallheer
Staff Writer | August 27,2013
Vyto Starinskas / Staff File Photo
The Vermont Yankee Nuclear Power Plant in Vermont on Thursday Sept. 25, 2008.
BRATTLEBORO — Entergy Corp. announced this morning that it was closing the Vermont Yankee nuclear power plant in 2014, at the end of its current fuel cycle.
“This was an agonizing decision and an extremely tough call for us,” said Leo Denault, Entergy's chairman and chief executive officer, in a prepared statement. “Vermont Yankee has an immensely talented, dedicated and loyal workforce, and a solid base of support among many in the community. We recognize that closing the plant on this schedule was not the outcome they had hoped for, but we have reluctantly concluded that it is the appropriate action for us to take under the circumstances.”
The news came as Entergy had won its latest battle to keep the troubled reactor open in a legal battle with the state of Vermont. Earlier this month, Entergy had won a major victory against the state in the Second Circuit Court of Appeals in New York City over state jurisdiction over the future operation of the plant.
The news by Entergy to shut down the troubled, 41-year-old reactor, which is one of the smallest in the country, was financial, the company said in a press release.
The company cited the fact that Vermont Yankee sells its 620 megawatts of electricity on the open market and doesn't have power contracts with area utilities. The electricity market has been depressed in recent years
According to a release from UBS Financial Services, Entergy Vermont Yankee was selling power at about 5 cents per kilowatt hour, which is about 20 percent higher than current market rates.The closing is expected to cost the southern Vermont region more than 600 jobs, although Entergy said the employment would remain steady until shut down in 2014, when the company began its decommissioning process.
Entergy said it would put the plant into what is called “safe store,” a Nuclear Regulatory Commission-approved plan which would essentially mothball the Vernon reactor for up to 70 years, waiting for radiation levels to subside.
NRC spokesman Neil Sheehan said Entergy officials had called NRC Region One administrator William Dean this morning about their decision.
“The NRC will continue its rigorous oversight of the plant through the rest of its operations and into and through decommissioning. We have a decommissioning process that the details steps that would have to be taken by Entergy going forward,” said Sheehan.
The announced closure of Vermont Yankee is one of several nuclear power plants that have been closed by their owners this year.
Under the safe-store scenario, all fuel would be removed from the reactor and its spent fuel pool in stages and put into concrete and steel casks in a facility that is currently in place at the Vernon reactor.
The decision was met with jubilation by anti-nuclear activists, who have been fighting to shut down Yankee even before it started generating power in 1972.
“We applaud Entergy's decision to shut down an aging nuclear power plant, rather than to push it past its limits. We appreciate their commitment for planning for a safe and orderly shutdown. We will remain vigilant to ensure that the decommissioning is done responsibly and in the safest way possible. Today, we celebrate this milestone in our work to end nuclear power generation in the Northeast and to foster a renewable energy future. This is a win for the people. Their relentless work has made the closure of Vermont Yankee possible. We thank all who have worked to make this day happen, especially the state of Vermont for its perseverance on this issue,” according to Deb Katz, executive director of the Citizens Awareness Network, one of about a half-dozen environmental groups that have worked to shut down the plant.
Gov. Peter Shumlin, who was elected in 2010 by campaigning against Vermont Yankee, has scheduled a late morning press conference. Entergy executives were slated to discuss their decision at a noontime press conference at Entergy's administrative offices in Brattleboro.