State energy fund could suffer from power increase

Print More

(Host) The problems that Vermont Yankee has encountered as it increases its power output may mean less money for a new state energy fund.

The fund was created to jump-start renewable energy projects. Yankee is scheduled to make the first payment by June.

VPR’s John Dillon reports.

(Dillon) Entergy, the company that owns Vermont Yankee, is supposed to pay into the fund using revenue from new electricity sales.

But when it started to ramp up the power earlier this month, an unexpected vibration was detected in the plant’s steam dryer. That’s a piece of machinery that removes moisture from the superheated steam before it spins turbines to produce electricity.

So plant operators halted the process at a 5% power increase.

(O’Brien) “That’s a variable that we didn’t anticipate necessarily when we projected some of these numbers.”

(Dillon) David O’Brien is Vermont’s commissioner of Public Service, the agency that represents consumers in utility issues.

The department will oversee the new clean energy fund. O’Brien says Entergy is scheduled to make a $200,000 up front payment by June. But the company is also supposed to make additional payments based on a revenue-sharing formula.

If the company generates just 5% more power, O’Brien those payments will be less than expected.

(Obrien) “It certainly has to have some effect because of that relationship between generating new revenue from sales and then making deposits into the fund.”

(Dillon) Entergy has asked federal regulators for permission to produce more power. But spokesman Brian Cosgrove says the company can pay the state only if it generates the additional energy.

(Cosgrove) “You can only do revenue sharing on actual revenue so it’s based on what is actually being sold into the market.”

(Dillon) The state estimates it will get about $3.6 million in 2007 as revenue sharing from Entergy’s power sales.

Commissioner O’Brien says the money will be used to promote renewable energy projects. But he says the state’s top priority is to make sure the power increase is handled safely.

(Obrien) “We’re continually watching that very closely. And we are prepared to quickly forget about the uprate payments if anything arises that is of concern to us.”

(Dillon) Entergy also wants permission to store nuclear waste in dry concrete casks in Vernon.

If it gets approval, the company is supposed make additional payments to the clean energy fund of about $15 million over six years.

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

Comments are closed.