Senate says “no” to Vermont Yankee

Amid cries from students and Vermonters alike, Vermont Yankee will not be relicensed, leaving the future for energy in Vermont uncertain.    The Vermont state Senate rejected Vermont Yankee’s bid for relicensing by a vote of 26-4.  The nuclear power plant will close in 2012 in accordance with its original agreement, so long as the plant doesn’t appeal the decision in court.  The next step will be finding alternative sources of energy to fill the gap left by Yankee’s absence, state senator Ginny Lyons said. “As the chair of natural resources I’ve been working on energy legislation for eight years,” Lyons said.The legislature has been looking for long-term power agreements and contingency plans that don’t involve any electricity from Vermont Yankee, Lyons said.The federal government has already provided capital for the state to invest in renewable energy generation, she said.Incentives for alternative energy will be provided by the clean energy development fund, Lyons said. The fund has already begun to invest in wind and solar energy in Vermont.However, while the legislature voted not to relicense Vermont Yankee and the plant appears to be on track to be decommissioned, the plant could try to bypass the senate altogether, Senator Tim Ashe said.”They could attempt to take court action to challenge the ability of the legislature to have any role at all in what normally is a nuclear regulatory commission process,” Ashe said. Entergy Louisiana, Vermont Yankee’s parent company, will probably now sue or take some sort of legal action, Ashe said.An agreement signed by the plant in 2006 required them to bring any renewed operation bill before the Senate with a condition that allows Vermont Yankee to resubmit the bill before they’re required to shut down in 2012, Lyons said.”A legislature in the future could certainly put another bill out or the same bill out and it could be a different outcome,” she said.Either way, Lyons said, Vermonters should not worry about losing power.”The lights are going to stay on,” she said.