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Entergy Objects To Conditions On PUC Consultant For Vermont Yankee Hearings

The spent nuclear fuel at Vermont Yankee is being stored in dry casks on the property in Vernon.
Courtesy Vermont Yankee
The spent nuclear fuel at Vermont Yankee is being stored in dry casks on the property in Vernon.

The owner of Vermont Yankee says the Public Utility Commission should not be able to hire a special consultant as it considers the proposed sale of the shuttered nuclear power plant in Vernon.Entergy filed its objection this week after the Public Utility Commission said it wanted a consultant to "advise and assist" the commission during the complicated hearings.

Entergy wants to sell Vermont Yankee outright to the company NorthStar Group Services. If the deal goes through, NorthStar would then retain ownership of the property after the cleanup and demolition — it would be the first time that has happened in the United States.

The Public Utility Commission says it needs a consultant with knowledge and expertise regarding the decommissioning of nuclear power plants, and it wants the consultant to work without having to testify or provide evidence for the hearings.

But in its objection, Entergy argues that the move goes beyond what has traditionally been allowed for a non-testifying consultant.

The Public Utility Commission has the authority to hire a consultant, but Entergy says it is opposed to the state's call to have its consultant review and analyze testimony, and communicate with the commission without allowing Entergy to probe the consultant's findings.

"Such a person must be treated as an expert witness ... Rule 706 contains important procedural safeguards that ensure transparency and the ability of the parties to bring any weaknesses in the expert’s analysis and conclusions to the attention of the Commission," the company said in its objection.

Entergy also says that if a consultant is hired, they should be able to look into his or her background to see if there is a bias, and the company wants to do that before the consultant is hired.

"Granting the parties more power over the selection would increase the legitimacy of the appointment process and reduce the risk of the judge choosing a biased advisor," the company wrote.

Evidentiary hearings on the proposed sale of Vermont Yankee are scheduled for the week of Jan. 22, 2018.

Howard Weiss-Tisman is Vermont Public’s southern Vermont reporter, but sometimes the story takes him to other parts of the state.
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