Public Service Board Skeptical of Entergy’s Claims

Update from Clean Energy Advocate, Ben Walsh, reporting from the March 9th, 2012 status conference.

When Judge Garvan Murtha ruled against Vermont a month ago in Entergy’s lawsuit against the state, he made very clear that the state still has authority over the plant, through Vermont’s Public Service Board.   On Friday, the Public Service Board, which oversees all electric generation in the state, started to exercise that authority.

In order for Vermont Yankee to keep operating until 2032 the Public Service Board needs to issue Entergy a new Certificate of Public Good (also known as a “CPG”).  The Board began hearings on the matter in 2009, but suspended them after the 2010 Vermont Senate vote that functionally barred the Board from granting the aging nuclear plant a new CPG. Now that Judge Murtha has invalidated the Vermont law that allowed the legislature to weigh in, the Board is once again taking up that question.

On Friday, all the groups involved in the Public Service Board’s hearings on Yankee (including VPIRG) gathered in Montpelier to get an update, formally called a “status conference.” The Board came across as quite skeptical of just about all of Entergy’s arguments.  They even went so far as to question whether they even have the authority to let Entergy store more radioactive waste in Vernon. If they decide that they can’t give Entergy that permission, it very well could be game over for Entergy’s attempts to give VY a new 20-year lease on life.

So while we’ve got a long, hard, costly fight ahead of us in front of the Public Service Board, the bottom line is they made clear they aren’t going to be bullied by Entergy’s high-priced lawyers. They’re clearly taking their decision on whether to grant a new CPG very seriously, and that’s encouraging.