Judge dismisses Entergy's motion for legal fees


BRATTLEBORO -- A motion by Entergy to recoup its legal fees for its successful federal lawsuit against the state was officially dismissed on Dec. 30.

Entergy's motion for attorney's fees, expenses and costs was dismissed "with prejudice," noted the order issued by Federal District Court Judge J. Garvan Murtha. Because it was dismissed with prejudice, Entergy can't change its mind and refile later.

"Each party shall bear its own fees and costs, including attorney's fees, in this matter, and waives further appeals in this matter," wrote Murtha.

The order was issued after Entergy and the state notified the judge they had reached a far-reaching agreement, with dropping the suit for attorney's fees being one of the conditions of the agreement.

In late October, Entergy, which owns and operates Vermont Yankee nuclear power plant in Vernon, filed a motion seeking $5.4 million from the state to pay for its legal fees.

Entergy had successfully sued Vermont in federal court over state legislation that gave the Legislature the authority to forbid the Vermont Public Service Board from issuing a certificate of public good to Yankee, which the plant needed for continued operation past March 2012. Murtha ruled in Entergy's favor, concluding legislators had considered radiological safety during deliberations over the legislation. The state appealed the decision to the Second Circuit Court of Appeals, which affirmed Murtha's decision.

Yankee received a renewed 20-year operating license from the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, but has yet to receive a certificate of public good from the Public Service Board. However, on Aug. 27, Entergy announced it would be closing Yankee in late 2014 because it couldn't compete against power plants that were producing electricity using cheap natural gas.

On Dec. 23, Entergy and the state announced they had reached a "grand bargain."

Entergy agreed to drop its lawsuit for fees, fund a $10 million economic fund for Windham County, release more than $5 million from an escrow account for deposit in the state's Clean Energy Development Fund, seed a "greenfielding" fund with a $25 million deposit, remove all spent fuel from the spent fuel pool over the next seven years and begin decommissioning as soon as the trust fund has accumulated enough cash.

In return, the state agreed to not contest a certificate of public good for operation for the next year and plans to build a storage facility for the spent fuel.

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


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