State schedules Vermont Yankee hearing

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VERNON — State officials have set a date for the first public hearing on the proposed sale of Vermont Yankee.

The Public Service Board's hearing is scheduled for 7 p.m. March 14 at Vernon Elementary School, 381 Governor Hunt Road in Vernon.

The hearing will be preceded at 6 p.m. by a public information session on the plant sale. That meeting is organized by the state Public Service Department.

Vermont Yankee owner Entergy, which stopped power production at the nuclear plant in December 2014, announced plans late last year to sell the property to New York-based NorthStar Group Services.

NorthStar has pledged to complete decommissioning and site restoration on most of the property by the end of 2030. That's decades earlier than Entergy had been planning.

The deal — in which NorthStar would retain ownership of the site after cleanup and would be responsible for long-term spent fuel management - is the first of its kind in the United States.

Entergy and NorthStar want to close the sale by the end of 2018. But both the state Public Service Board and the federal Nuclear Regulatory Commission must approve the transaction.

The companies filed an NRC application last month. The Public Service Board application was filed in December.

As part of the state's review, the Public Service Board is planning two public hearings in Vernon this year. The second is expected to happen in early September, just before the board holds technical hearings on the Vermont Yankee sale.

Entergy has asked the Public Service Board to rule on the matter in the first quarter of 2018. But several interested parties including Windham Regional Commission and the state Public Service Department had asked the board to ensure there was time for multiple public hearings.

Geoff Commons, the department's acting public advocacy director, has said the board's review schedule "recognizes the strong interest that the local community and region have in all matters related to the Vermont Yankee plant" and allows for "a serious, in-depth review" of the sale.

Mike Faher reports for the Reformer, VTDigger, and The Commons. He can be contacted at mfaher@vtdigger.org.

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