Reports Say That Entergy Wants To Sell Vermont Yankee

10/25/10 5:49PM By John Dillon
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(Host) A published report says Entergy Corporation hopes to sell its Vermont Yankee plant.

And a top state official says new ownership - and a better deal for Yankee power - could bolster the case for extending the license of the nuclear plant.

VPR's John Dillon has more.

(Dillon) In August, the Energy Daily newsletter cited sources in the nuclear industry who said Entergy had put its Vermont plant up for sale. The latest report comes this week from a British business news web site, SGAM. It says Entergy retained the Morgan Stanley financial services firm to help shop Yankee around.

Entergy spokesman Michael Burns says the company does not comment on what he called "market rumors." Burns says Entergy is always looking to maximize value for shareholders.

(Burns) "As any company would, we continuously look at all our operations and evaluate them, looking for ways, potential ways, to create additional value. That's nothing new."

(Dillon) Public Service Commissioner David O'Brien is the Douglas administration's point person on utility issues. He's heard the reports, as well. 

(O'Brien) "There's certainly been rumors of a potential sale of VY. Let's face it, Vermont hasn't been very happy with Entergy. And I think it's fair to say Entergy has been less than enamored with Vermont."

(Dillon) The state Senate last winter rejected Entergy's request to continue operating past March 2012. Lawmakers were unhappy with a power deal offered by Entergy. And they were upset that Yankee officials had misled regulators about whether the plant had underground pipes that could leak radioactive materials.

O'Brien says Entergy will soon come up with a more favorable power contract proposal.

(OBrien) "I don't know the details because that's confidential. But I get feedback that suggests we're certainly very close to an agreement in principle."

(Dillon) New owners and a new power deal, O'Brien says, could force lawmakers to re-think their rejection of the Vermont Yankee license extension.

(O'Brien) "The question then becomes for leadership in Vermont, if there were a sale, and or a power deal, or the very least these sort of game changers occurring that could be a great deal for the state. Provided that we've satisfied ourselves on safety, is that enough to satisfy Vermont that we can look at Vermont Yankee differently?"

(Dillon) But James Moore of the Vermont Public Interest Research Group says the Legislature needs to consider more than who owns the plant.

(Moore) "Changing the out-of-state ownership to a new out-of-state corporation doesn't make the reactor one day younger. And that's its fundamental problem, is it's falling apart. It's got a leak a week, and Vermont Yankee is past its prime."

(Dillon) Vermont utilities say they're closer to settling on a new power contract with Yankee than they were last winter, but that they don't have a deal yet.

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

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