Vermont Yankee nuclear plant in Vernon. (AP file photo)
Vermont Yankee nuclear plant in Vernon. (AP file photo)

BRATTLEBORO -- On Aug. 27, 2013, Entergy announced it would be closing Yankee in late 2014. In late 2013, representatives from Entergy and the state inked a memorandum of understanding related to the plant's eventual decommissioning.

In the agreement, the state agreed to recommend the issuance of a certificate of public good for continued operation of the plant and for the expansion of a facility to store the nuclear waste produced by Yankee.

In exchange, Entergy agreed to expedite a decommissioning study and promised it would begin remediating the site within 120 days of the decommissioning trust fund reaching the appropriate level. While the federal government gives Entergy up to four years to determine the total costs for decommissioning, Entergy has agreed to have the study done within the next year.

Currently, the decommissioning fund rests at approximately $606 million. Entergy believes it could cost up to $825 million to fully decommission the site, which includes the cost of moving fuel out of the reactor building and into dry casks.

Entergy agreed to start moving nuclear waste out of the plant's spent fuel pool immediately following shutdown and place it into dry casks outside of the reactor building. During the Aug. 27 press conference, it was estimated that process should take about seven years. But in the new MOU, which still must have Public Service Board approval, removal of the spent fuel is to occur "in a timely manner."

"That was an estimate based on the experience at other plants," said Jim Sinclair, spokesman for Vermont Yankee.

Entergy has also agreed to set aside $2 million for the each of the next five years for the purposes of economic development in Windham County and release $5.2 million it has held in escrow. Entergy said it would start a seed fund for site restoration, starting with a $25 million deposit and a $20 million parental agreement.

The agreement also calls for the state and Entergy to put aside all of their outstanding legal disputes, which includes Entergy's attempt to recoup more than $5 million in attorneys fees for its successful federal lawsuit against the state. Entergy also agreed to forego an appeal to the Vermont Supreme Court of a "generation tax" levied upon Vermont Yankee by the Vermont Legislature. Entergy had filed a motion with the U.S. District Court for the District of Vermont, contesting the tax, but the district court was not swayed by its argument, concluding Entergy had to first exhaust administrative remedies in Vermont. On Jan. 8, the Second Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed the district court's conclusion.

"Paragraph 3.c of the Settlement Agreement provides that we will not seek further review of this Second Circuit decision on the generation tax," said Sinclair.