The Vermont Yankee nuclear plant in Vernon. (AP file photo)
The Vermont Yankee nuclear plant in Vernon. (AP file photo)
Wednesday December 5, 2012

BRATTLEBORO -- Because of Entergy's "disobedience and noncompliance," the Vermont Supreme Court should order an immediate shutdown of Vermont Yankee nuclear power plant in Vernon.

Thus states a motion filed by the New England Coalition late Tuesday afternoon, which claims because Entergy doesn't have a current certificate of public good for its power plant, it shouldn't be allowed to continue operating it for the time being.

Until the Vermont Public Service Board has rendered a decision on whether to issue a new CPG, states the motion, Entergy should be ordered to "cease and desist."

Because Entergy is currently in violation of agreements made when it purchased the plant, said Jared Margolis, NEC's legal counsel, it is disregarding the board's authority over the plant's continued operation.

"Right now Entergy is operating in violation of the board," said Margolis. "If we went to the board and asked it to issue an injunction, why would Entergy listen to the board? Entergy has shown it is not willing to abide by the board's orders."

The board would have to go to the Supreme Court to enforce its order anyway, he said, so it only makes sense that NEC appeal to the court, rather to the board, for the injunction.

In March 2011, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission issued a new 20-year license to the plant, allowing it to continue to operate until 2032.

But Entergy also needs the CPG from the state to continue to operate the plant. The decision on the CPG was held up after Entergy sued the state when the Vermont State Senate voted against allowing the PSB to issue the certificate.


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A federal judge ruled in January 2012 that members of the Senate had overstepped their authority by considering nuclear safety in their deliberations prior to the vote.

The state has appealed the district court's ruling.

Meanwhile, the PSB restarted its CPG hearings, but because of the delay it is accepting new evidence and testimony that wasn't available prior to the end of the earlier hearings. That process is not scheduled to conclude until August 2013, at which time the PSB will evaluate all submissions. It's unknown when the PSB might make its decision.

Entergy has argued before the board that it may continue to operate Yankee pending the PSB's decision, but NEC pointed out the 2002 sale agreement "expressly prohibits operation" of the plant past March 2012.

In May 2012, Entergy filed a motion asking the board to amend its orders to allow operation of the plant without a CPG. The board denied the motion in late November and has repeatedly warned Entergy that it is operating in apparent violation of that 2002 agreement.

"Whereas the Board found no basis for altering these provisions," states NEC's motion, "Entergy clearly does not have authority to operate the plant post March 21, 2012, absent a new CPG ..."

Entergy will have the opportunity to respond to NEC's motion, and Margolis said he is looking forward to how Entergy might rebut NEC's arguments.

"As the board put it, this is all self-created," said Margolis. "It's based on commitments they made and choices they made."

Bob Audette can be reached at raudette@reformer.com, or at 802-254-2311, ext. 160. Follow Bob on Twitter @audette.reformer.