Vermont News Briefs

Public Service Board denies Entergy’s motions to amend petition in certificate of public good case

Last Thursday the Vermont Public Service Board denied Entergy’s motion to amend legal documents in its bid to continue operating the Vermont Yankee Nuclear Plant in Vernon.

The board rejected the Louisiana-based nuclear power operator’s proposed changes to the sale order, dry fuel storage order and certificate of public good for the Vermont Yankee Nuclear Plant.

The dry fuel storage order barred the plant from storing spent fuel on the site generated after March 21 when the state’s permits for Vermont Yankee expired. The sales order prohibited the continued operation of the plant beyond that date without the board’s approval.

Entergy, the parent company of Vermont Yankee, sought to amend the orders because it has continued to operate the plant without state approval. Entergy has sued the state seeking a 20-year license extension. U.S. District Court Judge Marvan Gurtha ruled last year that Entergy could apply for a certificate of public good, a type of permit, from the Public Service Board to keep the plant open until 2032.

“If we were to reach the conclusion urged on us by Entergy VY,” reads the board order, “It would be hard not to also conclude that Entergy VY had misled the Board.”

Elizabeth Miller, commissioner of the Department of Public Service, said her department is pleased with the board’s decision.

“The department is glad the Public Service Board rejected Entergy’s attempt to rewrite prior board orders requiring Entergy to seek approval for operation and storage of spent nuclear fuel beyond March 2012,” she said. “The Board denied Entergy relief from the consequences of Entergy’s own tactical and strategic choices.

Miller called into question Entergy’s track record with the state.

An Entergy official lied under oath when he testified to the Vermont Public Service Board in 2010 about whether the plant had an underground piping system. In January 2011, underground pipes leaked tritium into the soil of the plant compound.

“The Order also confirms the state’s view that Entergy’s conduct in its dealings with Vermont is highly relevant to the question of whether it is a fair and trustworthy business partner whose license to operate should be extended for an additional 20 years.”

Sandy Levine, senior attorney for the Conservation Law Foundation, said this decision might very well hurt Entergy’s application for a certificate of public good.

“I see this as making it very difficult for Entergy to prove they are a responsible owner and operator of Vermont Yankee worthy of being given a state permit to operate for an additional 20 years,” she said. “They will be having to ask the same board to continue to operate even though they are violating that board’s previous orders.”

Entergy spokesman Jim Sinclair said the plant would continue to operate and pursue its plans to keep running for the next two decades.

“We had asked for amendments so that our operation would conform to these orders,” he said in a statement. “This is in parallel to consideration by the Public Service Board of our application for a renewal to our Certificate of Public Good. The decision announced today does not impact Entergy’s plans for plant operations.”

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Andrew Stein

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