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What's next in Vt Yankee saga? - WCAX.COM Local Vermont News, Weather and Sports-

What's next in Vt Yankee saga?

Montpelier, Vermont - January 20, 2012

A judge ruled Thursday that Vt. Legislature's attempt to shut down the Vermont Yankee nuclear power plant in Vernon violated federal law.

The state of Vermont now sits where it was back in 2010, with the fate of the Vermont Yankee before the Public Service Board.

"For it to operate in the state of Vermont it needs to demonstrate that it is to the economic benefit to the state of Vermont and it needs to meet the requirements that all other power generators have to meet in the state of Vermont," said Rep. Shap Smith, D-Vt. House Speaker.

The Public Service Board will decide whether to issue a Certificate of Public Good to Entergy. The board heard testimony on this very topic before the Legislature took the issue into its own hands. Judge Garvin Murtha's ruling limits the state's ability to regulate the nuclear power plant, but they say the battle is far from over.

"The state clearly has continuing oversight, legitimate important interest in the facility and those all continue even with this opinion," Public Service Commissioner Liz Miller said.

"Its base-load power provides great jobs, it's good environmentally because of its low carbon output," said Brad Ferland, president of the Vermont Energy Partnership.

Yankee supporters say the state has fewer levers they can pull to prove the nuclear power plant isn't a positive thing for the state of Vermont, especially because proving it is unsafe is outside their jurisdiction.

"A victory is a victory. It gives them choices of how to move forward. They took it out of the political arena and the courts gave them a good solid decision," Ferland said.

There is one area in which both parties agree-- the future of this case is uncertain.

"It's too early for me to speculate on exactly what the process is going to look like. It's among the things we will be taking a look at in the next several days," Miller said.

"I don't know, I don't think anybody really knows at this point what will happen with the Public Service Board. There are so many variables it's impossible to predict," Ferland said.

While the ruling appears to be a win for Vermont Yankee, analysts are skeptical. Even with a Certificate of Public Good, the nuclear power plant remains in Vermont where many are opposed to its existence and in-state utilities are unlikely to purchase its power in the near future.

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