Shumlin: Yankee Plan Cound Hinder License

10/21/09 5:50PM By Bob Kinzel
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AP File Photo/Toby Talbot
Senate President Peter Shumlin says the owner of Vermont Yankee, the Entergy Corporation, is taking actions that make it less likely the Legislature will vote to extend the plant's license beyond 2012.

At issue is a proposal to reorganize the ownership of Vermont Yankee and 5 other plants.

VPR's Bob Kinzel reports.

(Kinzel) It appears that a complicated debate in the upcoming Legislative session over the future of the Vermont Yankee Nuclear Power plant just got even more complicated.

That's because Senate President Peter Shumlin doesn't like Entergy's proposal to spin off 6 of its older nuclear power plants to a new corporation that will be financed initially with more than $4.5 billion dollars of debt.

The Public Service Department originally opposed the re-organization but recently it changed its position and now it supports the plan.

Shumlin says the proposal could ultimately leave Vermont taxpayers with an enormous financial burden if there are future problems at Vermont Yankee, because the new corporation doesn't have sufficient assets:

(Shumlin) "It makes a positive vote much more difficult if we are partnering with a junk bond rated business in Mississippi that owes 4.5 billion dollars to someone and has no assets versus a partnership with Entergy Louisiana that has lots of assets, lots of profit and is not going bankrupt."

(Kinzel) Shumlin also says he'll oppose the re-licensing of Vermont Yankee if Entergy doesn't put enough money in the plant's decommissioning fund.

(Shumlin) "Let's be really clear whatever deal that they propose together has to include enough money to meet the promise that was made to Vermonters on decommissioning as soon as the plant cools off and is ready to be taken away whenever that day is."

(Kinzel) Steve Wark is the deputy commissioner at the Public Service Department. He says there are several reasons why his department now supports the reorganization plan:

(Wark) "One of the most significant factors was that they had reduced their debt and so we were pleased with that but the 100 million dollar revolving loan fund dedicated specifically for Vermont Yankee reliability issues a replenishing fund that allows the ongoing development and maintenance of the facility so we think this puts Vermont in a much better position than we currently are and we're comfortable with those aspects of the deal."

(Kinzel) The Vermont Yankee reorganization plan is being reviewed by the state Public Service Board.

For VPR News I'm Bob Kinzel in Montpelier.


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