In report, financial firm forecasts that Entergy may close Vermont Yankee

In an investment research letter, the Swiss financial services company UBS Securities anticipates Entergy Corp. will retire one of its nuclear power plants in 2013, and it cites “Vermont Yankee as the most tenuously positioned plant.”

UBS representatives met with Entergy’s new leadership team on Feb. 1, the same day Leo Denault became CEO and chair of the board for the Louisiana-based company that operates the Vermont Yankee nuclear power plant.

On Monday, UBS released a report (see below) that details fiscal portents “suggesting real retirement risk for units such as Vermont Yankee and (New York’s) Fitzpatrick in ’13; we see (increased) focus on the (decommissioning) process.”

This analysis comes a month after UBS released a report, which project that Entergy “is unlikely to generate any meaningful cash” from wholesale commodities in 2013 and 2014. UBS also expects the corporation to experience deficits in 2015 and 2016 if the company does not retire older, lower capacity units, like Vermont Yankee.

The February UBS report shows that Vermont Yankee is the lowest capacity plant Entergy operates, at 605 megawatts.

All of this information comes as Entergy and the state of Vermont are embroiled in legal disputes over whether Vermont Yankee should continue to operate. One case is pending before the U.S. Court of Appeals and Entergy has appealed Vermont Public Service Board decisions to the Vermont Supreme Court.

Entergy representatives would not comment on Vermont Yankee’s fiscal situation “as a matter of policy,” but spokesman Jim Sinclair did provide a statement.

“While short-term prices are challenging for merchant nuclear generating units in certain competitive power markets, we think that nuclear plants will remain an important part of America’s generation portfolio,” he said. “In addition to nuclear power being a safe, reliable and virtually emissions-free source of electricity, we believe that, left alone, power markets will recover over the long term to support merchant nuclear generation.”

This story was updated at 12:00 a.m. on Feb. 7, 2013.

Andrew Stein

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