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Vermont Public Utility Commission members Margaret Cheney, left, and Sarah Hofmann at a hearing last April in Vernon.

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Snow forces postponement of PUC hearing on VY sale

Hearing to seek public comment on sale to NorthStar and attendant issues with site cleanup set for either Jan. 16 or 17

BRATTLEBORO—A flurry of state regulatory activity takes place this month in two companies’ request for approval of the sale of the Vermont Yankee nuclear power plant.

But that flurry of activity will have to wait a couple of weeks due to some real flurries.

Due to a forecast snowstorm for Jan 4, the three-member Vermont Public Utility Commission (PUC) — formerly the Public Service Board — postponed a public hearing on the petition to allow Entergy to sell the dormant plant to NorthStar for decommissioning.

The PUC says it plans to reschedule the meeting to either Jan. 16 or Jan. 17, at 7 p.m.

The rescheduled hearing by the quasi-judicial state board, which regulates the state’s public utilities, will take place in Brattleboro Union High School’s Multipurpose Room. Attendees are asked to enter via the gymnasium door.

According to the PUC’s website (puc.vermont.gov), such hearings are designed “to help the Commission understand a proposed project by hearing what the public thinks of it.” Such testimony becomes part of the formal public record of the proceeding.

“Any member of the public can attend the public hearing and offer comments for the Commission to consider,” the site continues.

At 6 p.m., prior to the meeting, the Vermont Department of Public Service will hold an informational hearing where representatives of both Entergy, which has owned the plant since 2002, and NorthStar would attend to answer questions from the public.

Both parties have made a late appeal not to actually answer questions during the question-and-answer session.

According to a memorandum from PUC Deputy Clerk Holly R. Anderson to both companies, that body received a request to amend the official notice of public hearing via telephone on Dec. 20.

Then, on Dec. 28, the board was notified by the Department of Public Service via email that Entergy and NorthStar “had discussed with the Department making a presentation at the information session, but not being available for further questioning because they have filed testimony and the matter is being litigated.”

The PUC rejected the request to amend the notice, which, Anderson wrote, should have been made through legal motions prior to the publication of the public notices for the hearing.

The petitioners (Entergy and NorthStar) and intervenors (which include various state agencies, the town of Vernon, the anti-nuclear watchdog group New England Coalition, representatives of the Abenaki tribe, the Conservation Law Foundation, the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 300, and the Windham Regional Commission) will schedule a new round of depositions in the case that will begin Monday, Jan. 8, and can run until Thursday, Jan. 18.

Approximately 325 documents have been filed as either pre-filed testimony or exhibits.

And the PUC has blocked out the week of Jan. 22 for evidentiary hearings in Montpelier, at the commission’s offices at 112 State St., in the third-floor conference room, to enter this information into the official record.

More hearings could take place the following week if necessary, according to a schedule that was formalized in July.

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