As of Wednesday, the Vermont Yankee nuclear power plant no longer provides electricity to utilities in the state.
The plant’s operating license expires today but the facility is being allowed to stay on line until a federal lawsuit over the authority of the Legislature has been resolved. The plant could remain open for some time because it’s a case that observers feel might go all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court.
At the same time, the Vermont Public Service Board is reviewing a license extension for the plant, but there is no firm timetable for the Board’s final decision in the case.
Central Vermont Service Corporation is the state’s largest utility. Spokesman Steve Costello says his company decided not to renew its contract with Vermont Yankee because of all the uncertainty surrounding the future of the plant:
(Costello) "At the end of the day on Wednesday we will stop receiving power from Vermont Yankee and it will be seamless. The way the system works ISO New England is really responsible for ensuring a balance of power on the grid and making sure that enough generation is happening everywhere that it needs to happen."
And although no state utilities have contracts with Vermont Yankee, Costello says power from the plant could still be used in Vermont given the nature of the New England power grid:
(Costello) "The power may be consumed in Vermont and that really just becomes an accounting exercise at that point. Vermont Yankee clearly will be selling power into the market but where those electrons really go is more of a fact of physics than contract."
Costello says CVPS will get much of its Vermont Yankee replacement power from a variety of sources, including the Seabrook Nuclear Power plant in New Hampshire, and additional wind and hydro projects.