Vt Yankee decommissioning may have to wait 60 years

10/30/08 5:50PM By John Dillon

AP Photo/Entergy
(Host) The owner of the Vermont Yankee nuclear plant says it will have to wait almost 60 years before it has enough money to decommission the plant.

Faced with that lengthy timeline, lawmakers are likely to try again to force Yankee to set aside funds for decommissioning.

VPR's John Dillon reports:

(Dillon) As the stock market has plummeted in recent months, so has the value of the Vermont Yankee decommissioning fund. It's worth around $397 million these days. But the expected cost of decommissioning is around $875 million.

Entergy, the company that owns Vermont Yankee, wants to mothball the plant after its license expires. The process is known as "Safestore," and it's designed to give the decommissioning fund time to grow.

But Entergy recently disclosed that it wants to put the plant in Safetstore mode until 2067.

The long time line concerns Representative Tony Klein, who chairs the House Natural Resources and Energy Committee.

(Klein) Is there a benefit to Vermont after we're not receiving any power from this plant to have that plant with all its liabilities - all its radioactive waste - sitting on the banks of the Connecticut River for 60 years? I think that's something that Vermonters are going to look at and have to think about.

(Dillon) Last spring, Governor Jim Douglas vetoed legislation that would have clearly made Entergy responsible for covering the full cost of dismantling the plant. The bill required Entergy to come up with the money - or a line of credit - to pay for decommissioning when Yankee's license expires in 2012.

Klein says that bill will be introduced again.

(Klein) In six months, the scenario hasn't changed, it's actually gotten worse. Way worse! It's more important now. I actually believe that if we have the same governor in January, the one that vetoed the bill, that I think he will see the errors of his ways and actually sign the bill.

(Dillon) Entergy has not put any money into the fund since it bought the plant in 2002. The company says it will add $60 million to the fund. But it plans to wait another 18 years to put more money in.

Company spokesman Rob Williams says that an acceptable timeline.

(Williams) The fund is earning now, and so it's really unnecessary. But we have committed in 2026 to infuse $60 million to the fund and by our calculations submitted to regulators it appears that is sufficient to meet the requirement.

(Dillon) The state says it will try to get the money sooner. Steve Wark is with the Department of Public Service, the state agency that represents ratepayers.

(Wark) The state considers an adequate decommissioning fund to be of fundamental importance. So regardless of what Entergy may have filed with the NRC, or may claim is sufficient. The state will seek a path that systematically restores the site to a greenfield state after operations cease in Vernon.

(Dillon) Yankee wants to extend its license for another 20 years. Wark says the state will use its influence in the relicensing case and other regulatory proceedings to pressure the company to come up with enough money for decommissioning.

For VPR News, I'm John Dillon in Montpelier.

AP Photo/Entergy

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