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Power The Almighty Buck

Vermont Nuclear Plant Seeks Decommission But Lacks Funds 179

mdsolar (1045926) writes with this bit of news about the Vermont Yankee Nuclear Plant shutdown. From the article: "On Friday, the Vermont Public Service Board voted to authorize Entergy Nuclear Operations, Inc., the operators of the Vermont Yankee electricity generating station ..., to close down their nuclear power plant by the end of this year. Because Entergy planned to shut the Vermont nuclear plant down prior to its licensed end-term, the board was required to approve the shutdown....

Entergy has reserved just over $600 million to date for decommissioning the Vermont nuclear plant, according to the Department of Public Service. This amount will not be adequate to meet the costs of full deconstruction, estimated at more than $1 billion according to the company's 2012 Decommissioning Cost Analysis report."
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Vermont Nuclear Plant Seeks Decommission But Lacks Funds

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday April 02, 2014 @09:41AM (#46638511)

    This issue demonstrates that arguments about the low lifetime cost and impacts of nuclear power tend to externalize significant costs. Decommissioning can be added to waste handling/storage and subsidized insurance.

  • by Pop69 ( 700500 ) <`billy' `at' `'> on Wednesday April 02, 2014 @09:45AM (#46638533) Homepage
    Then you pay the costs associated with them.

    If they've failed to properly provide for shutdown and decomissioning costs then it's their problem, they should be forced to pay them rather than pleading poverty and being allowed to walk away from their responsibilities
  • by peon_a-z,A-Z,0-9$_+! ( 2743031 ) on Wednesday April 02, 2014 @09:52AM (#46638581)

    Except in this case the plant was approved for twenty additional years of operation in 2011 and is now being shut down.

    Therefore, contrary to your assertion, they were properly planning for the costs but that planning did not encompass irrational public opinion shutting down the plant ahead of schedule.

    The people therefore who demanded it be shut down will also be the people who pay the extra costs associated with shutting it down.

  • Exactly (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Giant Electronic Bra ( 1229876 ) on Wednesday April 02, 2014 @11:24AM (#46639539)

    Nothing the State of Vermont did caused the plant to be shut down. It was entirely Entergy's own stupidity on multiple levels. First they decided to run as a 'Merchant' plant, refusing to sign a contract to provide VT with power (ironic as it was us who bore the burden of the threat of some disaster, etc). They could have locked in a profitable rate but they were stupid and greedy and screwed themselves. Secondly they were INCOMPETENT, or at least in many instances managed to LOOK incompetent. Parts of the cooling tower fell down, they lied to the regulators about tritium leak issues, etc. Thirdly they failed to do basic good cost accounting, for instance not planning for the replacement of a condenser who's rebuilding was MUCH MUCH more expensive than they 'guessed' it would be.

    As for the decommissioning cost thing, this is not some new thing or a bolt out of the blue. The original operators sold the plant to Entergy to get out of these liabilities and Entergy never properly funded the fund. It was a routine matter of discussion in VT TEN YEARS AGO that this day would come. What they did back then was come up with a plan to 'invest' the fund in something-or-other and then decommission in 60 years using the projected proceeds (and then of course get hammered in 2008, like they cared). After that they tried to spin the plant off so they too could escape from the burden of dealing with the twin messes of decommissioning and waste disposal.

    Overall Entergy has been rather dishonest and conniving, not to mention a bit less than totally competent at some level. Mark my words, the state will end up getting boned. Everyone will be paying for decades, yet magically "Nuclear power is cheap!" continues to be the mantra. All I can do is roll my eyes.

  • by Solandri ( 704621 ) on Wednesday April 02, 2014 @04:37PM (#46642807)
    The Vermont Yankee plant [] has been in operation since 1972, and generates about 4700 GWh each year. So over its lifetime it has probably generated about 190,000 GWh of electricity. $1 billion in decommissioning costs works out to about 0.5 cents per kWh (vs an industrial/commercial/residential cost of about 10/14/16 cents per kWh in Vermont). It does not substantially change the lifetime cost of the electricity generated.

    All the states I know of require nuclear plant operators to collect these decommissioning costs in a fund. That is, part of their revenue from electricity sales must be placed into a trust fund specifically for decommissioning the plant in the future. That the Yankee plant has insufficient funds despite 41 years of operation suggests accounting fraud, regulatory incompetence, or inflated decommissioning costs more than it does non-viability of nuclear power. The San Onofre nuclear plant operated a similar amount of time, had about 3.6x the generating capacity when it was shut down, and was also shut down prematurely. It has a $2.7 billion decommissioning fund which is expected to exceed the costs, so they are planning to refund the excess to customers.

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