BRATTLEBORO -- Lawyers for Entergy filed suit against Vermont again on Tuesday, claiming legislation passed this spring, which increased annual dues from the owners of its Vermont Yankee nuclear power plant to the state was unconstitutional.
During the last legislative session, a bill was passed amending the state's Memorandum of Understanding with Entergy to increase the obligations from $5 million to an estimated $12.8 million, based on its generation of electricity.
The bill was described by Entergy as "blackmail" and a violation of the U.S. Commerce Clause and the Supremacy Clause.
Entergy officials state that since Vermont Yankee sells its power to the New England grid instead of straight to the state, the new levy discriminates against interstate commerce.
In 2003, when the Memorandum of Understanding was signed by both parties, it was set to expire in March of this year to coincide with the nuclear plant's initial 40-year operating license.
However, when the Nuclear Regulatory Commission issued a 20-year license extension plant in 2011, a year before the initial license was set to expire, Entergy promptly sued the state, which had passed other legislation preventing the reactors continued operation.
A federal judge in January ruled in favor of Entergy, a decision that has since been appealed by the state.
Entergy contests that when the MOU expired in March, the obligations should have
"Vermont Yankee fulfilled its obligations under the MOU's," wrote Michael Twomey, vice president of external affairs for Entergy. "The state should not be permitted to transform negotiated -- and expired -- agreements into a new, illegal charge."
Officials for Entergy stated while they're contesting the new payment, they're proposing to pay approximately $5 million, which is roughly what would have been due, on an annual basis until the matter is decided.
In their filing, it states Vermont lawmakers have made explicit claims that the reasons the law was passed was to replace payments from contracts that are no longer valid.
"Now the state seeks to replace these amounts by imposing what it labels a ‘tax' on a single Vermont taxpayer, Entergy," the document states.
Josh Stilts can be reached at email@example.com, or 802-254-2311 ext. 273.