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October 08, 2008

VT Yankee Decommissioning Fund Drops - Again

Radioactive_2 The downward spiral of the Vermont Yankee Decommissioning Fund continues.

As pointed out in this week's "Fair Game", the value of this fund — set aside to clean up the Vermont Yankee nuclear power plant once it's shut down — has been dropping precipitously since the end of 2007.

Now, it's dropped down below $400 million for the first time in more than two years.

The Department of Public Service, which asked Entergy to provide the updated numbers, put together this chart:

March 31, 2006:   $391,882,501
Sept 30, 2006:     $402,410,980
March 31, 2007:   $422,182,237
Sept 30, 2007:     $440,003,672
March 31, 2008:   $427,406,446
Sept 30, 2008:    $397,035,937

The state is concerned about the fund's value in light of the steady slide in the stock market, and because Entergy is hoping to spin-off ownership of Vermont Yankee to a new company, Enexus, which will be heavily leveraged with debt. There is concern that if Enexus goes bankrupt that not enough money will be available to clean up the plant and that taxpayers would be on the hook to pay for decommissioning.

When Entergy bought the plant, the fund's value was roughly $304 million.

For more background on the estimated cost of decommissioning Vermont Yankee and why these numbers are important given Entergy's current plans for Vermont Yankee, check out this week's column.

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