A Brief History of Vermont Nuclear Power

Vermont Yankee Nuclear Power Station

The Vermont Yankee Nuclear Power Station (Vermont Yankee) was a nominal 650 megawatt (electric) Boiling Water Reactor located in the southeastern corner of Vermont, in the town of Vernon. While operational, Vermont Yankee was the largest electric generation station within Vermont. 

Vermont Yankee began operating in 1972 and was licensed to operate for 40 years through March 21, 2012. In 2002, Vermont Yankee was sold by the eight New England utilities that originally owned the plant to Entergy Nuclear Vermont Yankee, LLC, a subsidiary of Entergy Corporation of New Orleans, Louisiana. In March 2011, Vermont Yankee received a renewed operating license from the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) extending plant operation, for an additional 20 years to March 21, 2032.

In addition, Vermont Yankee also needed approval from the State of Vermont to operate beyond 2012. Entergy Nuclear Vermont Yankee petitioned the Vermont Public Utility Commission for a Certificate of Public Good in Docket 7862, to operate Vermont Yankee for an additional twenty-year period. 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, and provided a path for the decommissioning and site restoration of Vermont Yankee. Under the terms of the Agreement, VY would close before the end of 2014. Entergy would provide $10 million in economic development for Windham County over five years and $5.2 million in clean energy development support, as well as a transitional $5 million payment to the State for calendar year 2015. Entergy also agreed to establish a new $25 million fund (Site Restoration Trust) to ensure the site is fully restored after decommissioning. The full text of the Agreement can be read here.

The Agreement was contingent upon the Public Utility Commission 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 Utility Commission in Docket 7862. The full text of the MOU can be read here.

On March 28, 2014, the Vermont Public Utility Commission 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.


Vermont Yankee Officially Disconnects From The Grid

Vermont Yankee 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.

Vermont Yankee's Transition to Decommissioning 

In planning for Vermont Yankee’s decommissioning, Entergy initially announced that it would move all of Vermont Yankee’s spent nuclear fuel into dry cask storage by 2020 and put the plant into SAFSTOR until the facility could be fully decommissioned.  Under this plan, reactor license termination would take place by 2073.  Details of this plan are included in Entergy’s December 2014 Post-Shutdown Decommissioning Activities Report.

Transfer of all Vermont Yankee spent fuel from the Reactor Vessel to the Spent Fuel Pool was completed on January 12, 2015.  The transfer of all Vermont Yankee spent fuel to dry cask storage was completed on August 1, 2018.

Vermont Yankee Sale Proposed 

On November 8, 2016, Entergy Corporation announced an agreement to sell Entergy Nuclear Vermont Yankee, LLC and transfer its NRC licenses to subsidiaries of NorthStar Group Services, Inc., as a means of completing VY’s decommissioning and site restoration on an accelerated schedule.  Details of this proposed transaction are available in the following documents:

A “pre-submittal” public meeting at was held NRC Headquarters (Rockville, MD) on January 24, 2017.

The presentation material from this meeting follows:

At its January 26, 2017 meeting, the Nuclear Decommissioning Citizens Advisory Panel (NDCAP) voted to request an NRC public meeting in southern Vermont to discuss the proposed Vermont Yankee sale and license transfer to NorthStar. 

A copy of this letter is available here.  The NRC Public Meeting was held in conjunction with NDCAP's May 25, 2017 Public Meeting.

Entergy's License Transfer Request was submitted to the NRC on February 9, 2017.

NorthStar submitted a Revised VY Post-Shutdown Decommissioning Activities Report (PSDAR) for the accelerated decommissioning and site restoration on April 6, 2017. Entergy’s December 2014 Post-Shutdown Decommissioning Activities Report is heavily referenced by the NorthStar PSDAR.

NRC Approves Proposed Vermont Yankee Sale

On October 11, 2018, the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) approved the proposed transfer of Vermont Yankee (VY) licenses from Entergy to subsidiaries of NorthStar Group Services, Inc., to facilitate VY’s decommissioning and site restoration on an accelerated schedule.  Completing the VY license transfers required NorthStar to demonstrate that several conditions specified in the NRC’s approval had been met.  One of these conditions required NorthStar to obtain a Certificate of Public Good from the Vermont Public Utility Commission approving the VY sale.  These conditions are described in the following NRC documents:

PUC Approves Proposed Vermont Yankee Sale

On December 6, 2018, the Vermont Public Utility Commission (PUC) approved Entergy’s proposed sale of Vermont Yankee (VY) to subsidiaries of NorthStar Group Services, Inc., as a means of completing VY’s decommissioning and site restoration on an accelerated schedule.  The PUC order, its associated Certificate of Public Good and the Memorandum of Understanding supporting the proposed sale are available in the Related Vermont Public Utility Commission Docket(s) section.

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.