Newscast: Tuesday, August 27, 2013, 12:04 p.m.

Aug 27, 2013

Vermont Yankee will close by the end of next year, ending a lengthy legal battle with the state over the plant’s future. The Entergy Corporation says economic pressures prompted the shutdown decision.

The state of Vermont has been trying to close the forty year old Vermont Yankee plant since 2010. The battle over Vermont Yankee’s future has gone from the state legislature to a U.S. appeals court. But in the end it was low natural gas prices and a changing energy market that doomed the plant.

Julien Dumoulin-Smith is an energy analyst with UBS financial services. He says the problems facing Vermont Yankee also plague other, older nuclear units.

“It’s not the litigation that did it in, it’s the economics,” Dumoulin-Smith said. “Economics of nuclear at this juncture, the reality is it just isn’t economic, especially for single unit sites. Fundamentally the market structure is not supportive of base-load units.”

Dumoulin-Smith says Entergy’s decision may be a bellwether. He says there may be a large wave of older nuclear plants facing shutdowns due to cost pressures on the industry.

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission says it will carefully oversee Yankee’s decommissioning. State officials will learn details of the shutdown financial plan in the months to come.

Governor Peter Shumlin held a press conference about half an hour ago. He said Entergy made the right decision, and the sooner the plant can be decommissioned, the better.

In a statement late this morning, House Speaker Shap Smith said that the Entergy decision comes after years of discussion in the legislature about the long term sustainability of the plant.

Smith said the closure is part of a national trend of moving away from nuclear power, as the country works to develop a sustainable energy future.

Leo Denault, Entergy's chairman and chief executive officer, said in a statement "This was an agonizing decision and an extremely tough call for us. Vermont Yankee has an immensely talented, dedicated and loyal workforce, and a solid base of support among many in the community.”

The company employs about 630 people, a staffing level that will gradually be reduced as the plant moves through the stages of decommissioning.

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission said in a statement that the federal agency would "continue its rigorous oversight of the plant through the rest of its operations and into and through decommissioning.”