The Vermont Yankee nuclear power plant will be closed, the company that owns it announced today, bringing to a close a long-running, divisive battle over the plant.
“This was an agonizing decision and an extremely tough call for us,” said Leo Denault, chairman and chief executive of Entergy.
While activists have criticized the plant for years, the company said its decision was based, in the end, on economics. The company blamed a variety of factors, including the boom in natural gas that has driven down natural gas and wholesale energy prices, the high cost of operating the plant, and what it called wholesale market “design flaws.”
The company said it would operate the Vernon, Vt., plant through the fourth quarter of 2014 to “duly and properly plan for a safe and orderly shutdown” and prepare filings with the Nuclear Regulatory Commission on shutdown and decommissioning.
“We are committed to the safe and reliable operation of Vermont Yankee until shutdown, followed by a safe, orderly and environmentally responsible decommissioning process,” Denault said in a statement.
The company says on its website that 630 people are employed at the plant.
“Vermont Yankee has an immensely talented, dedicated and loyal workforce, and a solid base of support among many in the community. We recognize that closing the plant on this schedule was not the outcome they had hoped for, but we have reluctantly concluded that it is the appropriate action for us to take under the circumstances,” Denault said in the statement.
A federal appeals court ruled earlier this month that the Vermont Legislature did not have the authority to close the plant, though it granted itself the authority to do so in 2006 and voted in 2010 to do so.
The state’s Public Service Board was to decide this year whether the plant and its owner should be awarded a certificate of public good, which would authorize the plant to operate until 2032.
“The plant’s no longer economical to operate,” said Entergy spokesman Mike Burns.
The company planned a news conference at noon in Brattleboro, Vt., to discuss its decision.