Vermont Yankee

Susan Keese / VPR

Vernon residents met Wednesday for a third and final installment of a town meeting that began on Monday evening. The town is grappling with the unknown impact of losing Vermont Yankee, its biggest tax payer and employer.

After lengthy debate Tuesday, voters made deep cuts in the municipal budget and eliminated the town’s police department. The school budget was defeated by Australian ballot. On Wednesday, several people said they had heard that a petition was being drawn up, calling for a vote to restore the police department.

Susan Keese / VPR

Turnout was heavy at Vernon’s annual meeting Monday night. Voters debated school expenditures until so late in the evening that  discussion of the town budget was postponed. The meeting will continue Tuesday evening.

Vernon select board chairwoman Patty O’Donnell said the strong attendance reflects concerns about losing Vermont Yankee, the town’s biggest employer and taxpayer.

O’Donnell said the proposed town budget is down almost $400,000 from last year’s without cutting programs like the town recreation department or police.

A federal inspection of flood prevention measures at the Vermont Yankee nuclear plant has found several deficiencies but none requiring enforcement action.

A team from Nuclear Regulatory Commission arrived at the reactor last July to conduct the on-site audit. The NRC required the inspections after an earthquake and tsunami crippled several reactors in Japan in 2011.

NRC spokesman Neil Sheehan said the team did identify some problems with Yankee's record-keeping and flood-assessment calculations. He said the observations were similar to what NRC teams found at other 

Susan Keese / VPR

The town of Vernon is bracing for the loss of its biggest taxpayer – the Vermont Yankee nuclear plant.

Yankee has allowed Vernon to offer amenities and services far beyond the reach of most Vermont communities. Yankee's largess can be seen at the town's elementary school, where the gym is pretty impressive. Seth Deyo, the town’s recreation director, said it’s used a lot.

“It’s an NCAA regulation basketball court,” Deyo said. “We’re fortunate in that it has a great dividing wall so we can actually host two programs at the same time.”

A deal is being finalized that would resolve financial issues related to the cleanup of the closed Vermont Yankee  nuclear plant.
Jason R. Henske / AP

A proposed agreement between the state of Vermont and Entergy Vermont Yankee came in for criticism  Tuesday at a hearing before the state Public Service Board.

The hearing took place in locations around the state over Vermont Interactive Television.

Among other provisions, the agreement calls for Entergy to pay $10 million to help the Windham County Economy adjust to the plant’s shutdown.

In return, the Public Service Board would issue a permit for the plant to operate for a year before it closes in December 2014.

Toby Talbot / AP

Members of the public will have a chance to comment Tuesday on a new agreement between the state of Vermont and the owners of Vermont Yankee.

The agreement would allow Entergy to operate the nuclear plant for one more year, and it puts Yankee on a faster track for decommissioning.

The Memorandum of Understanding between Entergy and the state was announced Dec. 23, after weeks of closed-door talks. The deal calls for Entergy to contribute $10 million to help the local economy adjust after the plant closes at the end of 2014.

The Vernon Select Board has signed a one year contract with Entergy that will stabilize the town’s tax base through March 2015. 

The agreement sets the value of the Vermont Yankee plant at $280 million for the entire fiscal year. The current assessment is $300 million.

Officials say the deal is a good one for the town, since the plant will stop selling power halfway through the contract, in December 2014.

Vernon Select board chairman Patti O’Donnell says the agreement buys the town some time to plan for life without its biggest taxpayer.

AP File Photo

An agreement reached earlier this week between the state and the Entergy Corporation ends years of litigation with the owners of Vermont Yankee.

The deal is likely to speed up the timetable for decommissioning the plant. And it suggests that Entergy is willing to consider the region’s interest in how the Vernon nuclear plant is dismantled. The agreement could also provide a roadmap for how other states deal with nuclear plants that are close to their retirement age.

Entergy’s decision to close the plant in 2014 isn’t an isolated event.

The state of Vermont and the owners of the Vermont Yankee nuclear plant have signed a legal agreement that officials say will assure that the plant is decommissioned as promptly as possible.

Entergy has also agreed to provide money for economic development and restoration of the Windham County plant site.

The deal ends years of litigation between the state and Entergy Vermont Yankee

The deal allows Entergy to keep operating through the end of 2014, when the company plans to shut down the 42-year-old nuclear plant.

AP File Photo

For more than a week, Governor Peter Shumlin and top state officials have been in closed-door discussions with the owners of Vermont Yankee.

The talks focus on the details of dismantling the nuclear plant after it closes in December 2014.  So far, local voices have been excluded from the high-level talks.

The Windham Regional Commission, which represents the region’s interests of 27 southern Vermont towns, is one of several groups calling for a place at the table.

A New York federal appeals court says the legality of a tax on Vermont's only nuclear plant is best left up to a state court. But it shot down some of the plant operator's arguments against the tax anyway.

The 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Manhattan ruled Tuesday. The case stems from a tax affecting the Vermont Yankee nuclear plant.

The plant, which began operating in 1972, is run by the New Orleans-based Entergy Nuclear Operations Inc.

The company has argued that the electricity tax is unconstitutional and is not really a tax.

VPR/Susan Keese

An alliance that includes 27 towns in three southeastern Vermont counties has unveiled a plan for reversing the region’s economic decline.

The plan sets a goal of 1,800 new jobs by 2018 -- an addition of $460 million annually to the region’s economy.

That’s despite the expected loss of hundreds of the region’s highest paying jobs when Vermont Yankee closes next year.

Laura Sibilia of the Brattleboro Development Credit Corporation says the plan reflects the ideas of many individuals and groups.

Entergy announced a three-minute test of their 37 emergency sirens within a 10-mile radius of the Vermont Yankee nuclear plant.

Residents can expect the three-minute siren blast Saturday, Nov. 2 at 12 noon.

The tests, mandated by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), will affect the following towns:

In Vermont:

  • Brattleboro
  • Dummerston
  • Guilford
  • Vernon

In New Hampshire:

  • Chesterfield
  • Hinsdale
  • Richmond
  • Swanzey
  • Winchester

In Massachusetts:

VPR/Susan Keese

Three Windham County development organizations are asking for $2.3 million in state aid to deal with the impact of Vermont Yankee’s closing.

The request came at a joint hearing in Vernon held by the House Committees on Energy and Commerce and Economic Development.

The groups presented lawmakers with a set of strategies for rebuilding a regional economy that they say is already in decline.

Two Vermont House committees have made a special trip to the state's southeast corner to hear about the impact of the impending closing of the Vermont Yankee nuclear plant.

On Monday, the lawmakers traveled to Vernon Elementary School to hear from business and other local leaders from 1:30 p.m. to 4:30 p.m., and from the general public from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m.

House Speaker Shap Smith said he hopes lawmakers will gather information that will help them minimize the impact of the plant's closing, which is scheduled late next year. Vermont Yankee employs more than 600 people.

AP/ Toby Talbot

A panel that advises state government on nuclear issues wants the Vermont Yankee plant dismantled promptly after it shuts down next year.

Vermont Yankee is allowed to take up to 60 years to decommission the plant and restore the site for other uses.

The Vermont State Nuclear Advisory Panel doesn’t want Entergy to wait that long. But at a meeting on Wednesday, the panel stopped short of calling for new state permit conditions that would impose a decommissioning timetable.

A panel that advises Vermont state policy makers on activities at the Vermont Yankee nuclear plant is again expected to tackle the question of the plant's decommissioning.

The Vermont State Nuclear Advisory Panel failed to reach a consensus on the question of how long it will take for the plant to be taken down at a meeting last week, due to abstentions and absences among members.

The panel meets Wednesday in Montpelier and is expected to take up the issue again.

Two Vermont House committees are planning a special trip to the state's southeast corner to hear about the impact of the impending closing of the Vermont Yankee nuclear plant.

On Oct. 28, the lawmakers travel to Vernon Elementary School to hear from business and other local leaders from 1:30 to 4:30 in the afternoon and from the general public from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m.

Susan Keese- VPR

The Vermont State Nuclear Advisory Panel met in Brattleboro Wednesday to discuss how Vermont Yankee is likely to be dismantled.  The plant’s owner, Entergy, plans to shut the nuclear reactor down in December 2014.

The panel, known as VSNAP, advises the governor and state agencies on nuclear power issues. But the details of Entergy’s decommissioning plans are not yet known.

Toby Talbot / AP

For groups that have fought The Vermont Yankee nuclear plant over the years, the announcement that the plant would close next year represents a victory.

But the victory could also mean less financial support from a public that considers the fight over.

For years, a variety of groups have been arrayed against Vermont Yankee.  For the Vermont Public Interest Research Group, the plant has always been an issue. VPIRG was established in 1972 at the time the plant was starting operation.