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The Commons

Vermont Yankee losing backup power provider; seeks to build generator

Originally published in The Commons issue #181 (Wednesday, December 5, 2012).

VERNON—Vermont Yankee’s parent company wants to build a generator at the nuclear power plant site to produce electrical power in the event of a station blackout.

In mid November, representatives of Entergy Nuclear Operations Inc., which owns and runs Vermont Yankee, met with Nuclear Regulatory Commission officials at the agency’s headquarters in Rockville, Md., to discuss Entergy’s planned application to amend the Vermont Yankee license to allow it to build the generator.

The nuclear plant draws power from the Vernon Hydroelectric Station just down the Connecticut River during power interruptions, but that will no longer be possible come September 2013.

ISO New England, the region’s energy marketplace, and TransCanada, which runs the Vernon station, are not renewing an agreement for the plant to provide power during blackouts, according to NRC documents. The contract is set to expire Sept. 1, 2013, and TransCanada said it is unwilling to enter into an agreement with Entergy to supply power.

The NRC writes that although the hydro station won’t formally be credited as Vermont Yankee’s power source, the “tie line will remain continuously energized ... and will be available to provide power to VY.”

Furthermore, there are agreements in place to ensure that Vermont Yankee gets power from Vernon Power Station if needed.

NRC spokesman Neil Sheehan said regulators would monitor the situation closely and are waiting for necessary responses to their inquiries.

“We posed several questions to Entergy regarding the new diesel generator that will have to be answered,” he said. “These include the time frame for the state’s review of the plan and what happens if the state has not approved it at the time the Vernon hydro plant is no longer allowed as a credited (station blackout) source.”

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