Vermont’s Only Nuclear Power Plant Set to Close

And state lawmakers couldn’t be happier.

FILE - In this May 29, 2010 file photo, Shawn Cole, 12, of Hinsdale, N.H., left, and Peter Rosploch, 11, of Winchester, N.H. fish in the Connecticut River across from the Vermont Yankee nuclear power plant. In 2010, the Vermont Senate was so troubled by tritium leaks as high as 2.5 million picocuries per liter at the Vermont Yankee reactor in southern Vermont (125 times the EPA drinking-water standard) that it voted to block relicensing _ a power that the Legislature holds in that state. But in March 2011, the NRC granted the plant a 20-year license extension, despite the state opposition. Afterwards, operator Entergy sued Vermont in federal court, challenging its authority to force the plant to close. (AP Photo/Jason R. Henske)  
National Journal
Clare Foran
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Clare Foran
Aug. 27, 2013, 11:09 a.m.

En­tergy Corp., a New Or­leans-based power com­pany, an­nounced Tues­day it plans to shut­ter its Ver­mont Yan­kee Nuc­le­ar Power Sta­tion by the end of 2014.

The dec­ades-old plant, loc­ated in the town of Ver­non, is the latest cas­u­alty of the U.S. frack­ing boom, which has driv­en down the price of nat­ur­al gas and made it dif­fi­cult for oth­er sources of elec­tric­al power to com­pete.

Com­pany of­fi­cials cited fin­an­cial con­sid­er­a­tions as the reas­on for the shut­down, say­ing that com­pet­i­tion from nat­ur­al gas com­bined with steep op­er­at­ing costs have made it hard to turn a profit in re­cent years. “The plant was no longer fin­an­cially vi­able,” Leo De­nault, the CEO and chair­man of En­tergy told Bloomberg.

Shut­ting down a nuc­le­ar plant is no easy task, however. Ver­mont Yan­kee will con­tin­ue to op­er­ate through the end of next year, at which point the Nuc­le­ar Reg­u­lat­ory Com­mis­sion will step in to over­see the de­com­mis­sion­ing of its sole nuc­le­ar re­act­or.

Ac­cord­ing to the As­so­ci­ated Press:

The plant will be placed in ‘safe-store,’ in which fed­er­al reg­u­la­tions al­low it to be moth­balled for up to 60 years while its ra­dio­act­ive com­pon­ents cool down be­fore re­mov­al.

Moth­balling is a pro­cess whereby plant op­er­at­ors shut down a power fa­cil­ity without dis­mant­ling it.

The news met with an en­thu­si­ast­ic re­sponse from Ver­mont’s law­makers who be­lieve the plant poses a safety threat and have re­peatedly at­temp­ted to shut it down through leg­al means. 

“I am de­lighted that En­tergy will shut down the Ver­mont Yan­kee nuc­le­ar plant which has had so many prob­lems in re­cent years,” Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., said Tues­day in a state­ment. “There is a strong de­sire on the part of the people of the state of Ver­mont to close the plant.” 

With nuc­le­ar power no longer an op­tion, Ver­mont will likely ex­pand its port­fo­lio of al­tern­at­ive en­ergy sources in the com­ing years. Sanders was quick to point out, “The clos­ure will al­low Ver­mont to fo­cus on lead­ing the na­tion to­ward safer and more eco­nom­ic­al sources of sus­tain­able and re­new­able en­ergy like sol­ar, wind, geo­therm­al, and bio­mass.”

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