Brief History of Vermont Nuclear Power

Vermont Nuclear Power

The Vermont Yankee Nuclear Power Station (Vermont Yankee) is a nominal 650 megawatt boiling water reactor located in the southeastern corner of Vermont, in the town of Vernon. Vermont Yankee is the largest electric generation station within Vermont. In 2002, Vermont Yankee was sold by the eight New England utilities that owned the plant to Entergy Nuclear Vermont Yankee, LLC, a subsidiary of Entergy Corporation of New Orleans, Louisiana.

Vermont Yankee began operating in 1972 and was licensed to operate for 40 years through March 21, 2012. Vermont Yankee received a renewed operating license from the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) extending the plant operation for an additional 20 years to 2032. In addition, Vermont Yankee also needed to receive approval from the State of Vermont to operate beyond 2012. Entergy Nuclear Vermont Yankee petitioned the Vermont Public Service Board for a Certificate of Public Good in Docket 7862, to operate Vermont Yankee for an additional twenty-year period ending in 2032. However, on August 27, 2013, Entergy announced that Vermont Yankee would cease operations in the fourth quarter of 2014 for economic reasons, and also amended its petition in Docket 7862 to seek approval to operate only through December 31, 2014. On September 23, 2013, Entergy formally notified the NRC that it would cease operations in 2014.

On December 23, 2013, the State of Vermont and Entergy VY announced a Settlement Agreement (the "Agreement") that resolved all ongoing litigation between the State and Entergy VY, and provided a path to decommissioning and site restoration of Vermont Yankee. The full text of the Agreement can be read here. The Agreement was contingent upon the Public Service Board issuing a Certificate of Public Good in Docket 7862 by March 31, 2014. As part of the Agreement, the State and Entergy VY submitted a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) to the Public Service Board in Docket 7862. The full text of the MOU can be read here.

On March 28, 2014, the Vermont Public Service Board conditionally granted Entergy VY an amended Certificate of Public Good (CPG) authorizing Entergy VY to own and operate the Vermont Yankee Nuclear Power Station until December 31, 2014, subject to the MOU. The Final Order can be read here, and the Amended CPG can be read here.

Nuclear Issues Vermont Faces

In the present and coming years, Vermont faces a number of issues related to the Entergy Nuclear Vermont Yankee power station (Vermont Yankee) including:

  • The national dilemma of no permanent storage plan for spent nuclear fuel from power reactors.
  • Additional studies are being conducted concerning lessons learned from the problems uncovered at Fukushima, Japan following the tsunami event there.

The Vermont Comprehensive Energy Plan also contains more extensive discussion of these and other nuclear issues.

Vermont Yankee Nuclear Power Station Officially Disconnected From The Grid

The Vermont Yankee Nuclear Power Station officially disconnected from the grid on December 29, 2014, at 12:12 PM Eastern Standard Time. The reactor was manually shut down at 13:04 PM, following a controlled reduction of reactor recirculation flow and a sequential insertion of the plant's regulating control rod groups. The shutdown occurred without incident.

Former governor Peter Shumlin released the following statement on the closure of Vermont Yankee:

The closure of Vermont Yankee marks the end of years of controversy over operation of a nuclear plant in our state. I have long advocated for the closing of this plant at the end of its original license, and I believe the ceasing of operations today after nearly 43 years represents a positive step for our state and our energy future. Today, thanks to investments in renewable energy such as solar, Vermont's energy future is on a different, more sustainable path that is creating jobs, reducing energy costs for Vermonters and slowing climate change.

I know this is hard news for the many Vermonters who have relied on the Vermont Yankee plant for employment and economic opportunity in Windham County and beyond. I want to thank the employees of the plant for their hard work over the years. My administration will continue working with local communities to ensure that the Windham County region grows jobs and economic opportunity as operations wind down at Vermont Yankee. We will also continue to work with Entergy and community partners to ensure that decommissioning happens as promptly and smoothly as possible.

In December 2013, the Governor, former attorney general Bill Sorrell, and Bill Mohl, President of Entergy Wholesale Commodities, announced a settlement agreement between the State and Entergy Nuclear Vermont Yankee that resolves all ongoing litigation between the State and Entergy VY and provided a path to resolve proceedings at the Public Service Board.

Under the terms of that agreement, Entergy VY agreed to close the facility before the end of 2014, and will provide $10 million in economic development for Windham County over five years and $5.2 million in clean energy development support for Windham County and elsewhere, as well as a transitional $5 million payment to the State for calendar year 2015. Entergy VY also agreed to set aside a new $25 million fund to ensure the site is restored after decommissioning.

In a message to the Nuclear Decommissioning Citizens Advisory Panel, former Public Service Department commissioner Chris Recchia said that while Vermont obviously disagreed with the continued operation of the facility, everyone's efforts at ensuring safe plant operations this past year, as well as the efforts of all to meet the scheduled shutdown consistent with the settlement agreement, were appreciated. "I look forward to working constructively with everyone on the timely transfer of fuel to dry cask storage and ultimate decontamination and dismantlement of the property as soon as possible," Recchia added.