Entergy and State of Vermont face off over Vermont Yankee Nuclear Power Plant

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BRATTLEBORO, Vt., Sept 12 (Reuters) – Power company Entergy faced off against the state of Vermont in U.S. court on Monday to fight a landmark effort to force the closure of its aging nuclear power plant.

At issue is a law passed by the Vermont General Assembly in 2006 that New Orleans-based Entergy said put Vermont Yankee‘s fate in the hands of elected officials rather than the state utility regulator, the Public Service Board.

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Last year, Vermont’s state Senate voted in favor of shutting the plant when its license runs out.

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Vermont Assistant Attorney General Scot Kline said Entergy’s recent effort to split off several of its nuclear plants, including Vermont Yankee, into a separate company, had shown it was more concerned with profits than safety.

Kline said the state effort to shut the plant “supports the legislature’s goal of building a sustainable energy system in Vermont.”

In the first day of a three-day trial to determine the fate of the Vermont Yankee plant, Entergy’s (ETR.N) lawyers said Vermont politicians had infringed on the role of the federal Nuclear Regulatory Commission, which monitors the nation’s 104 commercial power reactors.

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Lawyers for Vermont have argued that the state has long consulted with federal regulators on plant safety. They sought to show they were not interfering with the NRC’s role as the U.S. nuclear regulator.

Instead, they sought to show Entergy had not been an honest partner to the state and was unfit to run the plant that the company bought for $180 million in 2002.

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Local resistance to the plant hardened after leaky pipes seeped radioactive material into the groundwater in 2010.

If Vermont succeeds, it would be the first U.S. state to shut a nuclear power plant that had received an extended operating permit from the NRC.

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Entergy, which is also battling efforts in New York to shut its Indian Point nuclear power plant, says it would prefer to negotiate deals with the states to improve plants and keep them in operation rather than fight lengthy legal battles.

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Source: www.reuters.com, via Reuters: Utilities

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