What's holding up the sale of Vermont Yankee?

Published: May. 21, 2018 at 5:40 PM EDT
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A public meeting this week could give residents of Windham County a clearer understanding of the future of the now-defunct Vermont Yankee plant. A potential sale of the plant is in the works, but some say it's not moving forward fast enough.

"It's inching along at this point," said Joshua Unruh, the chair of the Vernon select board.

A memorandum of understanding signed a couple months ago agrees for Entergy to sell Vermont Yankee to a company called Northstar which specializes in decommissioning power plants. If the sale goes through, full site restoration could be done as soon as 2030, decades earlier than previously thought. But federal and state regulators have yet to sign off on the deal.

"There is definitely frustration from my end but I have to imagine from the petitioners, too. I can't speak for them," Unruh said.

The town of Vernon wants to redevelop the land as soon as possible, moving into a new chapter of life after Vermont Yankee, which shut down in 2014. Area business owners are also looking to what's next.

"I think there are more tourists now in this area. But I don't think it is an easy time to be in retail right now," said Penelope Wilner, who owns a business on Main Street in Brattleboro, less than 10 miles away.

The shop owner laments a drop of foot traffic in her store. But she blames the internet for that, not the layoffs at Vermont Yankee.

"The traffic downtown it not as good as it used to be in some respects. There seems to be much more traffic on weekends than there is during the week," Wilner said.

Town officials in Brattleboro say the region continues to be vibrant.

"There is a mix of business going on in this community which has helped to protect and preserve our economy," said Patrick Moreland, the assistant town manager.

Moreland points to job growth at several nearby companies.

"There has been recent significant investment in GS Precision. There has been some proposed investment in Culture Made," Moreland said.

Town officials say more development could be on the way, once the plant is sold. The community is likely to get the latest on that potential sale at a public hearing this week.

"We would love to see the sale of the plant happen by no later than December of this year," Unruh said.

The meeting takes place Thursday night at Brattleboro Union High School. It's a chance to update the public and also an opportunity to voice concerns and hopes for the future of this community.