Entergy says ruling will not affect Vermont Yankee nuclear plant

HOUSTON Fri Nov 30, 2012 6:29pm EST

HOUSTON Nov 30 (Reuters) - Entergy Corp officials said an unfavorable ruling issued on Friday by the Vermont Public Service Board will have no immediate impact on operation of the 620-megawatt Vermont Yankee nuclear plant.

In a long-running dispute between Entergy and Vermont officials over the future of the 40-year-old reactor, the board rejected Entergy's request to amend previous orders that prohibited operation of the plant after March 2012 without state approval.

"The Vermont Public Service Board denied a request by Entergy to amend two orders issued by the board in 2002 and 2006," said James Sinclair, communications director for Vermont Yankee. "We had asked for amendments so that our operation would conform to these orders."

Entergy is also seeking board approval of an application to renew the plant's "certificate of public good."

The board described the denial as "narrow" and that it does not address the merits of modifying or extending Entergy Vermont Yankee's obligations under existing orders.

Elected officials and environmental groups want Vermont Yankee to shut, based on an agreement Entergy made when it purchased the plant in 2002.

However, a federal appeals court in June rejected the state's challenge to a new 20-year operating license issued to Vermont Yankee in 2011 by the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission.

"It's a further statement that Entergy continues to operate Vermont Yankee in violation of board orders," said Sandra Levine of the Conservation Law Foundation which is a party in the case.

"Entergy should be obliged to shut down the plant," Levine said.

New Orleans-based Entergy is the third largest operator of U.S. nuclear plants behind Exelon Corp and Duke Energy .