BRATTLEBORO -- The owners of the Vermont Yankee nuclear power plant said the scope of the Public Service Board's review should be narrowly focused.
According to the motion filed by Entergy's lawyers late last month, a recent federal ruling limited the PSB's ability on what it can and can't consider when reviewing whether a new or renewed Certificate of Public Good should be granted.
Because of Judge J. Garvan Murtha's ruling that Vermont legislation was passed to regulate nuclear safety and the continued operation of the Vernon reactor, Entergy officials stated the PSB is no longer allowed to include energy diversity, the impacts of safety on Vermont tourism and whether Vermont Yankee's continued operation is in the public good or whether Entergy has been or is a "fair partner" to the state.
"Nor can the board merely ‘find another word for safety,'" the motion states. "Similarly, there may be concerns that a nuclear accident (or the fear of a nuclear accident) will affect tourism in the region -- but this consequential concern does not justify regulation of the nuclear power plant."
The Public Service Board has been considering whether Yankee should receive a new CPG for more than six years. However, the board put its review on hold when Entergy sued the state over the Senate's decision to forbid the PSB from issuing the CPG.
After Murtha's decision, the PSB restarted the certificate process, but ruled testimony
To avoid preemption from the Atomic Energy Act, the motion states "a board ruling must be exclusively based upon an independent, non-safety rationale that provides a factually justifiable basis for shutting the plant down."
The motion also states that concerns about electric system reliability cannot be used to deny the CPG because Vermont Yankee is a wholesale electric operator and the PSB doesn't have the authority to determine if the reactors output is or will be needed.
As for energy diversity, Entergy's lawyers stated the PSB can't rely upon it either.
"Energy diversity does not justify shutting down (Vermont Yankee) it may only justify a decision not to purchase power from it," the motion states.
Lawyers also argued that any claim Vermont had about electrical diversity was invalidated when the PSB approved long-term contracts between state utilities and the Seabrook nuclear power plant.
Josh Stilts can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org, or 802-254-2311 ext. 273.