VTEP Blog

Learn about regional transmission in Woodstock, September 7, 12-3:30 PM

Posted by: Vermont Energy Partnership Staff    Posted date:  August 17, 2017

Learn more about the future of Vermont and New England electricity transmission at the ISO-New England Consumer Liaison Group (CLG) informational session and luncheon on September 7, from 12-3:30 PM at the Woodstock Inn and Resort, on the Green, Woodstock, VT.

The meeting will feature a free lunch, a keynote speech by a Vermont energy leader and will host a panel of regulatory, utility and industry experts to address the controversial FERC Order 1000 to enhance regional transmission of distributed power. A representative from Vermont Electric Company (VELCO), the state’s transmission utility, will also be featured on the panel.

VTEP Communications Director Guy Page, one of Vermont’s two coordinating committee members, will moderate the panel discussion. Meredith Angwin, a longtime nuclear power advocate and author of recent book on grassroots activism, will also be present as a Vermont representative on the coordinating committee

The ISO-CLG holds quarterly luncheons across New England, in an effort to bring together energy consumers and policy makers in an informal, informational setting. The entire event is free and open to the public, but pre-registration is necessary. For more information, contact Mary Louise Nuara of ISO-NE at (413) 540-4481 or mnuara@iso-ne.com.

Recent News Good for NorthStar Plan

Posted by: Vermont Energy Partnership Staff    Posted date:  August 4, 2017

Vermonters wanting a well-vetted, safe, prompt decommissioning of Vermont Yankee by NorthStar have received these three pieces of good news in the last two weeks:

There will be more time for public discussion and comment.

On Monday, July 24, the Vermont Public Utilities Commission (formerly the PSB) rescheduled the next public hearing from September 28 to January 4 and technical hearings from November/December to late January. These extra months allow everyone – from intervenors to the merely interested – more time to express questions, concerns, and positions to the media, government, and non-governmental organizations (NGOs), and directly to the PUC at ePUC.

“This revised schedule continues to support the timing of the proposed transaction between Entergy Nuclear Vermont Yankee and NorthStar,” said Joe Lynch regarding the postponement.

The financial strength of the NorthStar plan has become even stronger.

On Sunday, July 30, VT Digger reported the announcement of the purchase of NorthStar by J.F. Lehman, a New York equities firm specializing in high-tech and military acquisitions.

The NorthStar plan already had plenty of financial back-up to cover unexpected delays, including bonded subcontractors, a budget $73 million under the current value of the decommissioning trust fund, and a $125 million insurance plan.

NorthStar CEO Scott State made the following statement on the Lehman website:

“JFLCO’s recapitalization of our Company will enable NorthStar to fully pursue business opportunities which the management team has laid the foundation for over the past several years. Northstar will have the resources, capital structure and operational resources to support our long term priorities and growth plans – enabling a superior offering that will be well received by our customers and employees alike.”

Decommissioning work has already begun.

According to a Tuesday, August 2 VT Digger story, NorthStar has already begun performing engineering and design work, which is permissible even without regulatory approval to begin the actual physical work. This decision by NorthStar (and also by subcontractor AREVA) displays a commitment to the plan and faith in its ultimate regulatory approval. It also decreases $12 million from the project’s budget.

Taken together, these recent developments suggest a bright future for a thorough, prompt, cost-effective decommissioning

PUC Changes Public Meeting Date

Posted by: Vermont Energy Partnership Staff    Posted date:  August 3, 2017

The next public meeting hosted by the Vermont Public Utilities Commission (PUC) will be moved from the end of September to January 4, 2018, according to the PUC’s revised schedule.

We will update you as more details, including the meeting location and time, are announced.

Guy Page: NorthStar’s Better Mousetrap

Posted by: Vermont Energy Partnership Staff    Posted date:  July 28, 2017

Despite NorthStar’s expertise and their previously completed projects, some nuclear power antagonists, including the New England Coalition (NEC), remain skeptical about the proposed decommissioning plan.

An op-ed I wrote in response to NEC’s concerns of the sale was published in VT Digger and the Brattleboro Reformer. The full text can be read below.

Guy Page:  NorthStar’s Better Mousetrap
By: Guy Page

After reading the details of Mike Faher’s July 9 story, “Anti-nuclear group doubts clean-up plan,” it is clear the New England Coalition, a long-time antagonist of nuclear power, is skeptical of NorthStar’s ability to decommission Vermont Yankee safely and on budget.

An NEC spokesperson is quoted as decrying NorthStar’s supposedly “untested method of managing decommissioning under new and unanalyzed circumstances.” Yet, there is nothing technologically new or experimental about this plan. The applied science is all established and in regular use, and has been proven both safe and economically successful.

The only novel aspects of the plan — all related to budgeting and organization — are being scrutinized by the Vermont Public Service Board and the federal Nuclear Regulatory Commission. Both review processes are expected to last well into 2018. In addition to protections such as performance bonds, $125 million in insurance, and contingency budgeting, there is a $73 million surplus-over-budget in the decommissioning trust fund.

Much has been made of the fact that NorthStar is hesitant to release documents containing proprietary trade secrets. However, NorthStar has released thousands of pages of detailed financial planning and disclosure — anyone can read them by searching Docket 8880 on ePSB. Even the small number of publicly withheld documents may be reviewed by all official parties in the Vermont PUC docket.

What’s really happening here is that NorthStar has built a better mousetrap. Its plan represents a major improvement of the industry standard for prompt, safe nuclear decommissioning. If the NorthStar plan happens to makes the future of the nuclear power industry more viable, no wonder anti-nuclear groups like NEC are concerned.

The regulatory review process is designed to thoroughly assess financial viability, environmental impact and nuclear safety. Regulators must determine whether NEC’s concerns merit a substantial revision in the NorthStar plan, and where prudent caution ends and unnecessarily harmful delay begins.

Such delay could be harmful to both the environment and the economy. Saying no to NorthStar means lost economic opportunity and delaying decommissioning by more than 50 years. It means that whatever harmful substances (apart from spent fuel in dry cask storage) are there won’t be promptly removed, but will remain onsite for at least a half-century. And it means that Windham County will lose the immediate economic impact of the decommissioning itself, and the likely redevelopment of the well-positioned Vermont Yankee site. In short, no NorthStar means less environmental and economic certainty for Windham County.

NorthStar views this job as a showpiece for future nuclear decommissioning work. They simply have not come to Vermont to fail.

Last month, I attended a press conference in Montpelier at which Governor Phil Scott was asked about the NorthStar plan. The Governor replied, “We need to make sure they have the financial resources, but in the end, if we can make it work, it will be beneficial for all Vermont.”

Indeed. Let’s let this process work.

Seven Days: Guy Page touts NorthStar credibility

Posted by: Vermont Energy Partnership Staff    Posted date:  July 21, 2017

Earlier this month, Seven Days ran a column on NorthStar’s plan to decommission Vermont Yankee. While the overall commentary expressed interest in the project and relief that Vermonters will not be responsible for any project expenses, the author also cited concerns regarding the “experimental” nature of the proposed project. My response to the column, which can be read here and below, reiterates that NorthStar’s plan will utilize tried and true methods for a swift decommissioning process that will benefit Windham County economically and environmentally.

NorthStar Treatment
By: Guy Page

Page is communications director of the Vermont Energy Partnership.

In John Walters’ July 5 Fair Game column, “Fast, Cheap and Good?,” a Citizens Awareness Network spokesperson describes NorthStar Group Services’ decommissioning plan as “new” and “an experiment.” There is nothing technologically new or experimental about this plan. The applied science is all established. The only new parts — related to budgeting and organization — are being scrutinized by the Vermont Public Utility Commission and the federal Nuclear Regulatory Commission.

Kudos for debunking the fear that ratepayers might be on the hook if NorthStar fails. As Walters notes, this option doesn’t exist for merchant power plants. When a hardware merchant folds, taxpayers aren’t on the hook to pay off his debts. The same deal exists with a merchant power plant, nuclear or otherwise.

In addition to protections such as performance bonds, contingency budgeting and $125 million in insurance, there is a $73 million surplus over budget in the decommissioning trust fund.

The regulatory review process is designed to thoroughly assess financial viability, environmental impact and nuclear safety. Saying no to NorthStar means lost economic opportunity and delaying decommissioning by up to 50 years. Furthermore, NorthStar views this job as a showpiece for future nuclear decommissioning work. NorthStar has not come to Vermont to fail.

If NorthStar can demonstrate the soundness of its plan and resources, Seven Days is right: “It’s going to be very difficult for state or federal regulators to say no.”

NorthStar, AREVA videos show companies’ expertise

Posted by: Vermont Energy Partnership Staff    Posted date:  July 10, 2017

If a picture is worth a thousand words, how many words are two videos worth?

Those who attended the past two NDCAP meetings may recall the excellent presentations delivered by NorthStar CEO Scott State and AREVA representative Frederick Bailly on NorthStar’s plan to decommission Vermont Yankee and on their respective firms’ expertise in deconstruction and decommissioning.

During Mr. State’s presentation on May 25, he showed the audience a video of several previous projects NorthStar has completed over the past several years. This video can be viewed at the link below:

NorthStar Group Services Project Time Lapse 

AREVA also shared a video of their Boiling Water Reactor decommissioning process, complete with high-tech underwater band saws, which can be viewed at the link below:

AREVA – Boiling Water Reactor Dismantling & Decommissioning 

Listen, speak to NorthStar CEO on radio program Thursday

Posted by: Vermont Energy Partnership Staff    Posted date:  June 13, 2017

Scott State, CEO of NorthStar, will discuss his company’s plan to decommission Vermont Yankee on Thursday, June 15 at 11 AM on WDEV’s Common Sense Radio with Bill Sayre. Listeners may tune into AM 550, FM 96.1, 96.5, 98.3 or 101.9, or listen live on the Internet. Questions and comments on the live radio program are welcome. Call in at 802-244-1777.

The next meeting of the Vermont Yankee Nuclear Decommissioning Citizens Advisory Panel will take place on the following Thursday, June 22, from 6-9 PM at the Governor Hunt House in Vernon. The meeting will include presentations by AREVA and Burns & McDonald, NorthStar’s partners in decommissioning.

And, supporters of NorthStar’s decommissioning of Vermont Yankee are encouraged to provide public comments about the plan on the Vermont Public Service Board (PSB) website, ePSB.

Economic Development Leaders Address NRC at Vermont Yankee NDCAP Meeting

Posted by: Vermont Energy Partnership Staff    Posted date:  June 1, 2017

On Thursday, May 25, more than 25 economic and community leaders went to the Brattleboro Area Middle School to address representatives of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) at a meeting of the Vermont Yankee Nuclear Decommissioning Citizens Advisory Panel (NDCAP). Scott State, NorthStar CEO, and Mike Twomey, Entergy Vice President of External Affairs, were also present to deliver a presentation on the proposed sale of Vermont Yankee and showcase some of NorthStar’s previous projects.

Following a Q&A session between the NDCAP members and NRC, the floor was opened to comments from the audience. The NorthStar purchase received great support from audience members, including Common Sense Radio host Bill Sayre and Patty O’Donnell of the Vernon Economic Development and Planning Commission.

Kate O’Connor, chairwoman of the NDCAP, also encouraged those present to send comments to the Public Service Board, via ePSB. Comments can be submitted to the link here.

May 25 NDCAP Meeting to host NRC

Posted by: Vermont Energy Partnership Staff    Posted date:  May 23, 2017

This Thursday, the Nuclear Decommissioning Citizens Advisory Panel (NDCAP) will host representatives of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission at their monthly meeting. The meeting will take place from 6 – 9:15 PM in the Multipurpose Room at Brattleboro Area Middle School, 109 Sunny Acres, Brattleboro.

We encourage you to attend and voice your support of NorthStar’s proposed plan. Supporters may also comment on the proposed sale (docket/case number 8880) at the Vermont Public Service Board comment link, ePSB.

For another perspective on how the NorthStar plan will benefit Windham County, see the following letter from Vernon resident Peggy Farabaugh. The letter can also be read here.

In a recent story (“NRC to appear in Brattleboro May 25,” May 17), NDCAP chairwoman Kate O’Connor stated that she hoped Windham County residents would speak out on the proposed NorthStar transaction. So, I want to share my opinion of the sale.  

Vernon and Windham County need economic regrowth and new industry to fill the void left by Vermont Yankee. NorthStar’s decommissioning plan would introduce new business and bring in new employees in just seven years – decades ahead of the original schedule. In the meantime, NorthStar’s employees will also patronize our local hotels and businesses, improving our local industry. 

Once the site is decommissioned, Vernon will be eligible to host a new large-scale employer and benefit from its jobs and tax dollars. And if the site is replaced with a micro-grid, as the Vernon Planning and Economic Development Commission suggested in their op-ed last month, Vernon can continue its legacy as Vermont’s clean energy leader.  

I urge the Public Service Board to recognize this great opportunity on Vernon’s doorstep. We can either act now and secure economic benefits for our community sooner, or wait another 60 years for Entergy to decommission Vermont Yankee on their own. Which would you choose?  

NorthStar plan will help sustain Vernon/Windham County growth

Posted by: Vermont Energy Partnership Staff    Posted date:  May 22, 2017

In a recent story (“NRC to appear in Brattleboro May 25,” May 17), NDCAP chairwoman Kate O’Connor stated that she hoped Windham County residents would speak out on the proposed NorthStar transaction. So, I want to share my opinion of the sale.

Vernon and Windham County need economic regrowth and new industry to fill the void left by Vermont Yankee. NorthStar’s decommissioning plan would introduce new business and bring in new employees in just seven years – decades ahead of the original schedule. In the meantime, NorthStar’s employees will also patronize our local hotels and businesses, improving our local industry.

Once the site is decommissioned, Vernon will be eligible to host a new large-scale employer and benefit from its jobs and tax dollars. And if the site is replaced with a micro-grid, as the Vernon Planning and Economic Development Commission suggested in their op-ed last month, Vernon can continue its legacy as Vermont’s clean energy leader.

I urge the Public Service Board to recognize this great opportunity on Vernon’s doorstep. We can either act now and secure economic benefits for our community sooner, or wait another 60 years for Entergy to decommission Vermont Yankee on their own. Which would you choose?

Peggy Farabaugh

Vernon, Vermont

 
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