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Vt. Supreme Court to hear arguments on nuke plant

Published on NewsOK Modified: January 16, 2013 at 5:49 pm •  Published: January 16, 2013

That put the question of the plant's future back before the Public Service Board, where it had been before the Legislature's involvement. While pre-empted from ruling on safety, the board maintains jurisdiction over the impacts of Vermont Yankee on the state's environment and utility economics. Meanwhile, Vermont Yankee has kept operating, past the expiration of its initial state and federal licenses on its 40th birthday last March.

The Public Service Board raised the alarm in decisions in March and November that the plant's continued operation appeared to violate part of a 2002 order approving Entergy's purchase of Vermont Yankee. The agreement said the plant would stop operating if it did not get a new state permit before its 40th birthday.

A provision in Vermont law allows parties to cases before the Public Service Board to petition the Supreme Court if they feel board orders are not being adequately enforced. The anti-nuclear group New England Coalition, which had been a party to the 2002 PSB case on the sale of Vermont Yankee to Entergy, seized on that rarely used section of law last month, asking the court to shut Vermont Yankee down based on the sale agreement.

Wednesday's hearing was on a request by Entergy to dismiss that complaint. The company argued that state law allows the plant to continue operating under its old license while its renewal is pending before the Public Service Board.

The only just outcome of the board process would be a win for Entergy, Sullivan said. "If they shut us down after this hearing they will be in defiance of Vermont law and of the District Court in Brattleboro. So they can do it, but it would be unlawful."

The court did not indicate when it would rule.