(Host) The state Senate wants the Legislature to have the final say on whether Vermont Yankee can operate for an additional 20 years.
The Senate today gave preliminary approval to a bill that gives lawmakers control over the nuclear plant’s future.
VPR’s John Dillon reports:
(Dillon) Last year, the Legislature weighed into the nuclear power debate and gave itself the authority to approve additional nuclear waste storage in Vermont.
Yankee now wants a new 20-year license. But without expanded waste storage, the nuclear plant can’t operate beyond its 2012 expiration date.
So Yankee and some legislative critics questioned if this year’s legislation was redundant.
Here’s Rutland Republican Senator Kevin Mullin.
(Mullin) “I almost feel like it’s d j vu. I thought we voted on this last year. What’s the difference between what we voted on last year and this bill?”
(Dillon) Washington Senator Ann Cummings chairs the Finance Committee.
She says this year’s legislation allows lawmakers to decide the future of nuclear power in Vermont.
(Cummings) “This is a broader scope than the one last year and gives this body more ability to investigate and weigh the pros and cons.”
(Dillon) Senate President Peter Welch, a Windsor County Democrat, said the bill re-establishes legislative authority over the nuclear power plant. He said the Legislature first assumed oversight almost 40 years ago when it approved the construction of Vermont Yankee.
But Welch said the bill does not pre-empt the Public Service Board, which will review Yankee’s license extension.
(Welch) “But the Legislature would also have the opportunity vote yes or no. And the Legislature is free in that consideration to take into account its perception of what this does for Vermont’s energy future, how it helps ratepayers, what the economic trade-offs are, whatever negotiations may occur between the administration and/or the Legislature and the applicant.”
(Dillon) The bill comes up for final approval later this week.
For Vermont Public Radio, I’m John Dillon in Montpelier.