The Vermont Public Service Board kicked off two weeks of technical proceedings on Monday to determine whether Entergy Corp., the owner of the 40-year-old Vermont Yankee nuclear power plant in Vernon, should receive a license to continue operating the facility for 20 more years.
Entergy is making arguments aimed at substantiating its continued operation; the Vermont Pubic Service Department, which represents the Shumlin administration and the state’s ratepayers, is arguing against the company’s bid for the license, which is known as a certificate of public good.
The proceedings begin at the same time the Vermont Supreme Court prepares to hear an appeal filed by the Louisiana-based corporation. Entergy argues that the court should decide the fate of the plant: In filings last week the company said the board should not proceed with the technical hearings for the certificate of public good and should instead relicense the plant based on a pre-existing docket. The state’s highest court is waiting for briefs, which are due March 2.
The anti-nuclear advocacy group the New England Coalition filed a motion with the Public Service Board to halt the board’s planned proceedings until the Supreme Court has ruled on Entergy’s appeal. The board, however, did not make a formal decision on this motion at the outset of the hearings Monday, and instead moved forward with the hearings.
The proceedings began on Monday with testimony from Richard W. Heaps, an economist who found that the closure of Vermont Yankee would adversely affect the economies of Windham County and the state of Vermont.
Boston-based attorney Robert Kirsch, representing the state of Vermont, asked Heap few questions that got by the frequent objections of attorney Robert Hemley from the Burlington-based legal firm Gravel and Shea, which is representing Entergy.
The board was also slated to hear testimony on Monday from Entergy Vice President Marc Potkin and Entergy decommissioning engineer William Cloutier Jr.
For a full list of the individuals slated to give testimony over the next two weeks, click here.
On Tuesday, the board will determine whether to uphold the state’s subpoena of Connie Wells, who was Entergy’s senior manager of business development when the company purchased Vermont Yankee in 2002. The Public Service Department subpoenaed her to talk about the many promises Entergy made to the Public Service Board in 2002.
Public Service Board Chair James Volz also indicated that he did not want to rush the proceedings and was willing to make time for extra testimony.
“There’s no particular rush to get this done,” he said.
In addition to this proceeding and the aforementioned Supreme Court appeal, the state is also tied up in litigation with Entergy in the U.S. Court of Appeals.