New Funding Proposal Prompts Settlement Talks In Vermont Yankee Sale Case

Jan 9, 2018

A deal to sell and dismantle the Vermont Yankee nuclear plant needs more money to make it work, and negotiations are underway this week to resolve the issue.

NorthStar Decommissioning Holdings wants to buy the now closed Vermont Yankee plant. The company has said it could decommission the plant as early as 2026 – far earlier than the timetable proposed by the current owner, the Entergy Corporation.

NorthStar  has pledged $125 million to manage spent fuel at the site, but the Department of Public Service, the state agency representing ratepayers, has questioned whether the company has the financial resources to back up that pledge. 

The department “has concerns about NorthStar’s ability to fully fund the $125 million support agreement that is a key component of the financial assurance package as it currently stands,” Brian Winn, the department’s finance and economics director, said in testimony filed last month.

Winn went on to say that “proposing additional or alternative funding sources could create an overall stronger package to provide assurance  that adequate funding exists to complete the [Vermont Yankee] work.”

Now settlement talks are ongoing as the parties consider a new proposal from NorthStar, according to James Porter, the department’s public advocate. “The joint petitioners have put together an amended financial assurance proposal that we are discussing,” Porter said Tuesday.

Porter would not discuss details of the settlement talks. A lawyer for NorthStar would also not comment on the negotiations.

The department filed a notice about the settlement talks with the Public Utility Commission, which is reviewing the deal. “The parties are not now in a position to seek action from the commission, but wish to inform the commission of the significant development and the possibility that the commission will soon receive further information in this regard,” the department said.  

The Public Utility Commission is set to hold hearings on the sale plan at the end of January.