HOUSTON Aug 27 Entergy Corp's decision
to shut its Vermont nuclear plant begins the final chapter in a
battle with politicians seeking to close the station and may
shift the firm's focus to the larger Indian Point nuclear plant
in New York.
Entergy on Tuesday said it will shut the 620-megawatt
Vermont Yankee by the end of 2014, saying the reactor is no
longer economical to operate with current low power prices and
rising regulatory costs.
The decision will end legal appeals and regulatory disputes
and highlights the actions of Entergy's new chairman and chief
executive, Leo Denault, who succeeded J. Wayne Leonard as CEO in
February. Denault previously served as Entergy's chief financial
officer for nine years.
Vermont Governor Peter Shumlin cited a "constructive" call
with Denault on Tuesday and said he hopes to work with the new
CEO going forward.
"The past is the past; we're now dealing with the future and
he pledged to work together as a team to get the best outcome we
possibly can," Shumlin told reporters.
In New York, Entergy also faces a showdown with politicians,
regulators and environmental groups in its effort to keep the
two Indian Point reactors running after their current licenses
expire later this year and in 2015.
New York Governor Andrew Cuomo opposes Indian Point's
license renewal because of the plant's proximity to the New York
City metropolitan area that is home to 19 million people.
At Cuomo's direction, state power agencies are pursuing
plans to modernize the New York grid so that it can operate
without the 2,037-MW Indian Point plant.
Denault told Reuters the company's current Indian Point
strategy is to continue the safe, reliable operation of the
plant located 40 miles north (64 km) of New York City, but he
remains open to talks to determine the plant's future.
Like Vermont Yankee, Indian Point also faces the double
economic challenges of falling wholesale prices and uncertain
capital costs to deal with changing nuclear regulatory mandates,
Entergy is "open to a resolution with the state that makes
sense for us and for the objectives of the state," Denault said.
However, the much larger Indian Point plant - which can
supply one-quarter of the power used in New York City and
Westchester - operates in a different power market and can take
better advantage of scale, Denault said.
"It's a different animal," he said.
Indian Point also contributes to the local economy with
high-paying jobs and taxes, supplying low-cost power that
releases no carbon dioxide or other pollutants, Denault said.
He said he wants to make sure Entergy has recovered the
large investment it has made since purchasing the first Indian
Point reactor in 2000 from the state power authority.