Shumlin To Vote Against Yankee License Renewal
11/13/09 5:50PM By Bob Kinzel  Download MP3
(Host) Senate President Peter Shumlin says he'll vote against a 20 year license extension for the Vermont Yankee Nuclear Power Plant, because owners of the facility haven't reached a rate agreement with Vermont utilities.
VPR's Bob Kinzel reports.
(Kinzel) The Legislature is directly involved in the future of Vermont Yankee, because several years ago, lawmakers gave themselves the power to accept or reject plans to extend the license of the plant for another 20 years.
Shumlin and House Speaker Shap Smith told officials at Entergy, the company that owns Vermont Yankee, that if Entergy wanted to be certain of a vote during the 2010 Legislative session, the company would need to reach a firm rate deal with the state's utilities by November 1st.
That deadline hasn't been met. Speaking on VPR's Vermont Edition, Shumlin said it's now unlikely that the Legislature will hold a vote:
(Shumlin ) "We're going to have to make a very tough decision here and we're going to do it in a fair and open way if I were to vote today on re-licensing I would vote no I would vote because we don't know what the price is because the spin off is unacceptable and I think it will be unacceptable if it really goes through to most legislators."
(Kinzel) Shumlin says a plan by Entergy to sell Vermont Yankee and 5 other older nuclear power plants to a new corporation known as Enexus, is a terrible idea because he says the new company will be financed by a lot of debt - leaving taxpayers potentially at risk.
Shumlin says the experience of Fairpoint Communications, a company that's now in chapter 11 bankruptcy, shows why he's concerned:
(Shumlin) "When we will ever learn how many times are we going to let Wall Street take a profitable company spin it off put the profits in their stockholders' pockets and leave the consumers with the risk."
(Kinzel) Entergy Vice President Jay Thayer says the comparison with Fairpoint isn't accurate:
(Thayer) "I guess when comparisons get made especially due to the recent events with Fairpoint it's a much much different proposition Fairpoint was in fact a highly leverage company it's proven to the be overleveraged that is a much different situation than what we're talking about Enexus."
(Kinzel) And Thayer says Entergy is still hoping that lawmakers will vote on the license extension next year:
(Thayer) "We'd like to get this issue on the table and voted on one way or the other quite frankly we make long term plans for the facility and Vernon we make long term capital investments we've got a refueling outage coming up in April of 2010 where we're going to invest tens of millions of dollars in the facility in its continuing safety and reliability.
(Kinzel) Thayer says it's likely that Entergy will announce a rate offer to the state's utilities at a Public Service Board meeting in the middle of next month.
For VPR News I'm Bob Kinzel in Montpelier.