November 3, 2011 / 5:36 PM / in 8 years

UPDATE 2-Vermont Yankee exits refuel, no decision on lawsuit

* Judge could rule on Vermont Yankee shutdown any day
    * Entergy wants to run Vermont Yankee for another 20 years
    * Vermont wants plant shut in March 2012

    Nov 3 (Reuters) - Entergy said on Thursday its
Vermont Yankee nuclear power plant in Vermont had exited a
refueling outage as the company waits for a federal judge to
decide whether the facility can keep running after March 2012.
    Vermont Governor Peter Shumlin wants the 620-megawatt plant
to shut by March 21, 2012, when its original 40-year operating
license was to expire.
    Entergy, the United States' second-biggest nuclear power
operator, wants the plant to continue running for another 20
years under a new federal license and has sued in federal court
to block the state from shutting the facility.
    "The Vermont Yankee nuclear power plant in Vernon is back
on line after completing its twenty-ninth refueling and
maintenance outage," Entergy said in a release, adding that the
plant had been shut for 25 days.
    Entergy shut Vermont Yankee in early October to put new
fuel in the reactor at a cost of about $100 million to run the
plant for another 18 months, showing the New Orleans-based
power company is confident of its position in the case.
    The trial took place on Sept. 12-14 before U.S. District
Judge J. Garvan Murtha of the District Court for Vermont in
Brattleboro.
    The parties said they expect a decision before the U.S.
Thanksgiving Day holiday on Nov. 24.
    Both parties have said that no matter how the judge rules,
the case is likely to be tied up in appeals for years.
    Entergy bought Vermont Yankee from several New England
utilities in 2002 for $180 million. The company agreed to seek
a certificate of public good from the Vermont Public Service
Board if it decided to run the plant beyond March 2012.
    Entergy filed with the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission
(NRC) for a new 20-year license for Vermont Yankee in 2006.
    But in January 2010, Entergy identified a radioactive
tritium leak at the plant and company officials made some
contradictory statements about underground pipes related to
that leak.
    The next month, the state Senate, then headed by Shumlin,
voted to block the Vermont Public Service Board from issuing a
certificate that would allow the plant to run beyond 2012.
    Entergy continued to work with state officials to convince
them to allow the plant to continue operating beyond March 2012
before finally suing to block the state from shutting the plant
in April 2011. That was about a month after the NRC granted the
plant the new 20-year operating license.
-----------------------------------------------------------
PLANT BACKGROUND/TIMELINE
STATE:         Vermont
COUNTY:        Windham
TOWN:          Vernon
OPERATOR:      Entergy Nuclear
OWNER(S):      Entergy Corp
CAPACITY:      620 MW
UNIT(S):       General Electric Boiling Water Reactor
FUEL:          Nuclear
DISPATCH:      Baseload
COST:          $183 million
TIMELINE:
1972 -         Reactor enters commercial service
2002 -         Entergy buys reactor for $180 million from
               Vermont Yankee Nuclear Power and enters a
               10-year power purchase agreement to sell power
               back to the former owners for about 4.5 cents
               per kilowatt hour
Jan 2006 -     Entergy files with NRC to renew the original
               40-year operating license for an additional 20
               years
Jan 2010 -     Entergy identifies tritium leak
Feb 2010 -     Vermont Senate votes 26-4 against authorizing
               the Vermont Public Service Board to issue a
               certificate of public good that would allow for
               the license renewal. Vermont is the only state
               in the nation with the authority to block a
               license renewal. The state gained that
               authority when Entergy bought the plant
Mar 2010 -     Entergy stops tritium leak
Nov 2010 -     Entergy mulls sale of Vermont Yankee
Mar 2011 -     NRC approves 20-year extension of operating
               license
Mar 2011 -     Entergy drops plan to sell plant
Apr 2011 -     Entergy files complaint in federal district
               court in Vermont to block the state from
               forcing the plant to cease operation in March
               2012 when the original operating license was to
               expire
Jul 2011 -     Entergy decides to spend about $100 million to
               refuel the reactor in October ($65 million for
               the fuel and $35 million for the refueling
               work)
Sep 2011 -     Trial in federal district court before the
               Honorable J. Garvan Murtha
Oct 2011 -     Entergy to shut reactor for refueling
Nov 2011 -     Reactor exits refueling
Oct-Dec 2011 - Judge Murtha expected to decide on lawsuit
Mar 21, 2012 - Reactor to shut unless state approves of    
               extension or Entergy wins court case to keep
               reactor operating or court appeals keep plant
               alive
Mar 2032 -     Renewed license expires
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