The owners of Vermont Yankee have avoided one battle with the state over the use of funds set aside for decommissioning the plant. The reactor is shutting down at the end of the month. At a teleconference Monday Entergy said it would not use the Decommissioning Trust Fund to pay for the transfer of radioactive fuel from the reactor into safer 'dry-cask storage' on the Vernon site. Entergy says the transfer will be funded through private credit instead.
Chris Recchia, the Commissioner of the Department of Public Service, says that's good news. He says the state would have opposed the use of the fund for fuel transfer. Entergy is seeking permission from the NRC to use up to $225 million from the Decommissioning Trust Fund to pay for ongoing maintenance of the stored spent fuel. Recchia says the state will argue against that request.
Entergy and the state have other differences on what the decommissioning fund should pay for, Recchia says.
"We’re going to keep an extremely close eye on what is being requested from that fund," Recchia says. "And we’re going to push for an opportunity to have a say on whether money expended from that fund is consistent with the trust agreement or not."
Entergy says it will repay its creditors and the trust fund for fuel handling costs with the proceeds of a lawsuit against the Department of Energy. Entergy is suing the DOE for failure to provide a long-promised permanent nuclear waste storage site.
The Decommissioning Trust fund is currently worth $655 million. Total decommissioning costs are estimated at about one and a quarter billion dollars. Entergy has an agreement with the state to begin decommissioning within 120 days, once the fund has gained enough through investments to meet the cost.
Updated Tuesday, Dec. 9 at 3:43 PM
This story has been corrected to more accurately represent Commissioner Recchia's views.