State asks for more information on Yankee uprate

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(Host) Vermont officials say they need more information before they can support a plan to boost the power output from Vermont Yankee. The owner of the state’s only nuclear power plant wants to redesign the reactor to get a 20% power increase. But the state agency that represents ratepayers said on Friday that it needs answers on how Yankee will deal with the additional high level radioactive waste. State officials also want to know if the plan could lead to more power outages in the future.

VPR’s John Dillon reports.

(Dillon) The Entergy Corporation wants to get an extra 110 megawatts from the Vernon plant by loading additional active fuel into the reactor core. The added fuel will create additional radioactive waste. And the Department of Public Service says it wants more detail on how Yankee plans to handle that waste.

The department represents ratepayers. On Friday, it told the three-member Public Service Board that the waste issue was one of several unanswered questions raised by the Yankee proposal. David O’Brien is the commissioner of public service.

(O’Brien) “What it boils down to is that there has to be a need and a benefit met by the applicant, that there is a need for this uprate that cannot be met by other means and that there is a benefit to ratepayers. And that is where in a couple of instances we found some shortcomings in the testimony.”

(Dillon) O’Brien says other questions include whether the added power will strain the transmission network, and whether Yankee will experience additional power outages under the new plan.

(O’Brien) “If those questions can be answered satisfactorily by Entergy, and those matters being resolved, then the Department could recommend that Entergy be granted a Certificate of Public Good.”

(Dillon) Opponents of the plan say it makes no sense to try to tease more power out of an aging reactor. Ray Shadis is with the New England Coalition.

(Shadis) “Our sense of it, from the New England Coalition’s sense of it, is that we oppose any increase under any circumstance. This is simply not appropriate to one of the oldest plants in the country.”

(Dillon) Entergy wants to start work on the project in about a year.

For Vermont Public Radio, I’m John Dillon in Montpelier.

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