Howard Shaffer and Jon Wharf’s comments about spent fuel ignore the text of the law, which quite clearly refers NOT to the AMOUNT of spent fuel stored, but to WHEN IT WAS GENERATED. Specifically, the law reads: “Any certificate of public good issued by the board shall limit the cumulative total amount of spent fuel stored at Vermont Yankee to the amount DERIVED FROM THE OPERATION OF THE FACILITY UP TO, BUT NOT BEYOND, MARCH 21, 2012, the end of the current operating license.” Section 6522 (c) (2) This is not the first time that VY supporters have attempted to attack Vermont’s laws without actually bothering to read them. Indeed, that’s been the pattern of this whole case to date. It’s well past time to break the pattern.
For the second time (at least), Mr. Shaffer raises this question: “If Vermont wanted VY shut down, why didn’t the Legislature order the Public Service Board to make the utilities shut it down before 2002?” His question is based on a totally false assumption, which again stands behind much of the reasoning that has been brought to bear in this case.
The assumption is that in 2002, or really at ANY time prior to late fall 2009, the Vermont legislature did, in fact, want to shut VY down. For those who have followed these issues closely, it is perfectly clear that the assumption is, as a simple matter of fact, false.
It was false in 2002, when the PSB decided that it was in the “public good” for the utilities to sell the plant rather than to close it. The Board confronted the situation explicitly and directly. There was no legislative intervention in the matter.
In 2005, when Entergy realized that a 1977 law required them to get legislative approval to store their waste in dry casks, the legislature chose to pass Act 74, RATHER THAN DOING NOTHING. Had the legislature failed to act, that would have had the effect of forcing the plant to shut down BEFORE 2012. Those who argue that the legislature’s “intent” in 2005 was to close the plant have never provided ANY explanation as to why the legislature would choose to pass a law which, when read as written, does NOT have that effect, rather than passing no law, which WOULD have that effect. The same applies to passage of Act 160 a year later.
Those having evidence that a MAJORITY of the Vermont legislature wanted to shut down Vermont Yankee at ANY time prior to late fall 2009 should present it. As someone who spoke to virtually every legislator during that period of time, I believe that what finally turned legislators against the plant was Entergy’s decision not to improve its 6.1 cents contract offer presented to the PSB in December 2009 along with the decision by CVPS and GMP not to accept that offer. It is also worth recalling that, at the time, the Enexus deal was pending (indeed, the offer I just mentioned was predicated on the Enexus deal going through), and the spinoff was incredibly unpopular among legislators, including a number who otherwise supported VY. Senator Illuzzi wrote an op-ed piece that fall saying just that, but he was certainly not alone in his concerns.