Vermont Yankee is scheduled to be closed toward the end of 2014, says owner/operator Entergy Nuclear. The decision comes as something of a shock after the company has won several battles in federal court concerning keeping the plant open despite Vermont’s legislature’s attempts to close the plant prematurely. The decision comes amid low natural gas prices and a lack of want for carbon free electricity, which have created an unviable financial situation for the power plant. Entergy plans to keep the roughly 600 workers employed through the end of the next cycle, when the plant will begin decommissioning.
Vermont Yankee has had a troubled time in the news in the past few years as Vermont hosts many “environmental” groups who have continually looked for a way to shut down the nuclear plant. In 2010 a tritium leak was discovered in a monitoring well at the plant that triggered another round of public outcry in the state. The state moved to shut down the plant, disregarding the license extension that the Nuclear Regulatory Commission had issued the plant. Since then Entergy has been fighting a winning legal battle, first in a federal District Court and most recently in a federal Appeals Court. Opponents of the plant had pledged to take the fight to the Supreme Court, but whether they will continue on now that the plant is planning on shutting down is unclear.
Vermont Yankee is a Boiling Water Reactor (BWR) 4, designed by General Electric, with a Mark 1 Containment. It was originally licensed for operations in March of 1972, employs 630 people, and produces 650 Megawatts of electricity, and could power 80% of Vermont.