Entergy Moves To Limit State’s Power Over Yankee

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(Host) Entergy Vermont Yankee has gone back to federal court to limit the state’s power over its nuclear plant.

In January, Entergy won a federal court order that struck down parts of two state laws that gave the Legislature a say in whether the plant could keep operating.

Now Entergy wants the court to go a step further. The company’s state certificate to operate expires on March 21st. And the company has asked Judge Garvan Murtha to block state utility regulators from taking any action that could force the plant to close on that date.

Pat Parenteau is a professor at Vermont Law School.

(Parenteau) "I think what Entergy is asking Judge Murtha to do is strike down yet another provision of state law that the board has asked questions about with regard to storage of spent fuel rods. But what Entergy is really after is an order from the court that they won’t be shut down until the board has acted on their certificate of public good."

(Host) Entergy’s latest move was prompted by questions asked last week by the Vermont Public Service Board.

The board is reviewing Entergy’s request to keep operating. And it asked Entergy and others involved in the case for guidance on the scope of the state review.

In particular, the PSB asked Entergy what it planned to do with radioactive waste produced after March 21st. The board noted that it previously ordered that Yankee could not store waste on site that’s produced after March 21.

Entergy says the board’s questions raised the "palpable risk" that the plant could be forced to close next month when its state license expires.

But Parenteau says Entergy’s request for a court injunction may be premature.

(Parenteau) "I think Entergy has jumped the gun by running back to Murtha at this stage. All that the board has done is raise these questions. They’re legitimate questions. But the board hasn’t provided any answer to the questions or even any way in which they’re potentially leaning on the questions."

(Host) Entergy has also filed a separate appeal with the federal court that challenges the board’s ability to regulate Yankee at all. The PSB holds a status conference on the case on March 9th.

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