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NorthStar has detailed plan to complete VY decommissioning on time

The writer serves as communications director for the Vermont Energy Partnership (, of which Entergy Nuclear Vermont Yankee is a member.

RE: “Cleaning up Vermont Yankee” [Viewpoint, Apr. 26]:

Vermont’s regulatory system works best when it expertly and promptly considers a project’s economic benefits and environmental impacts. I have confidence the Vermont Public Service Board will act in this fine tradition in NorthStar’s proposed decommissioning of Vermont Yankee.

In this spirit, I am concerned by two significant misunderstandings in a recent Conservation Law Foundation op-ed about the NorthStar plan.

The author claims “the money on hand is not sufficient to complete the task soon.” She also states that NorthStar has not committed to finish the project by a date that’s certain.

Both statements are incorrect, according to a Jan. 24 report to the Nuclear Decommissioning Citizens Advisory Panel and an April 6 document submitted by NorthStar to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission.

As of February, according to this latter document, the Vermont Yankee Nuclear Decommissioning Trust was valued at $572 million. License termination expenses, carefully separated and budgeted into 900-plus sub-projects, are estimated at $498.45 million. In addition to this $73 million projected surplus, NorthStar is providing additional cost-overrun risk mitigation, including:

• Guaranteed fixed payment (via bonding companies).

• Team performance bonds. (Project partner companies also have been bonded.)

• Team contractual commitments (partners penalized for not completing work on time and on budget);

• And last but not least, a $125 million support agreement — in essence, an insurance policy.

NorthStar’s completion timeline is explicit and detailed, and is summarized by this statement: “regulatory commitment for Partial Site Release is 12.31.2030.” The term “partial” refers to all work necessary to restore the site except for U.S. Department of Energy pickup of the spent fuel stored on the storage pads. This final step may occur before 2030 if a nuclear fuel repository is approved by the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission.

One must also consider NorthStar’s past and future. It has decommissioned thousands of power facilities and has extensive experience in nuclear decommissioning. A company doesn’t become the world leader in decommissioning by failing to plan for the unforeseen. It hopes to become the national leader in commercial nuclear power plant decommissioning and clearly recognizes that the success of this long-term mission depends on how well it performs at Vermont Yankee.

The Public Service Board can do its job well and in timely fashion. I hope that after careful review, the board will find that early decommissioning of the site is in the public interest and that NorthStar is more than qualified to get the job done.

That will allow Windham County to move forward with an economic development project that is vital to its future prosperity and quality of life.

Guy Page

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Originally published in The Commons issue #406 (Wednesday, May 3, 2017).

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