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July 25, 2011

"Fill ’er Up," Says Entergy As It Approves VT Yankee Refueling

Vyfuel Entergy's board of directors has essentially made a $50 million* bet that Vermont Yankee will remain open beyond March 2012, voting to refuel the plant in October.

The board made the announcement to Vermont Yankee employees and the media in a brief statement earlier today.

The $35 million $50 million* (see correction below) cost of a refueling covers the cost of replacing 120 fuel assemblies as well as other, scheduled capital upgrades and equipment replacements, said Larry Smith, a VY spokesman.

The October refueling will allow the nuke plant to keep running until at least March 2013. Refuelings occur every 18 months.

VY received a 20-year license extension from the Nuclear Regulatory Commission earlier this year, but the state of Vermont has refused to grant a certificate of public good to continue operating beyond March 21, 2012.

That issue is currently being litigated before the U.S. District Court for the state of Vermont. Last week, Judge J. Garvan Murtha denied Entergy's request for a preliminary injunction, but did signal that he had some serious questions about the state's reasoning behind a Senate vote in 2010.

Entergy had argued that uncertainty about whether it could remain open in 2012 put its refueling at risk, and asked Murtha to grant the injunction as a way to ensure it could refuel and undertake required maintenance and surveillance. Otherwise, it could be forced to shut down rather than spend money on the refueling.

Murtha rejected that notion, essentially saying Entergy's decision to to refuel had to be a calculated business risk. If Entergy prevails, the risk will turn into a reward.

"Refueling, however, is not a harm if Entergy prevails on its claims and is able to operate for the useful life of the fuel. Entergy’s choice not to refuel and shut down before a decision on the merits would be irreparable harm if Entergy is ultimately successful in its litigation, but Entergy, while it has raised the possibility, has not persuaded the court that a decision to shut down is likely and imminent," Murtha noted in his ruling last week. "Finally, any risk in significantly delaying the October outage is a preventable harm within Plaintiffs’ control, and it is not clear that such generalized harm is either likely or imminent."

In a statement, Gov. Peter Shumlin said Entergy's decision reaffirmed Murtha's ruling.

“Judge Murtha made clear in his decision to deny Entergy Louisiana's request for a preliminary injunction that he didn’t buy the company's argument that the injunction was a prerequisite for refueling," said Shumlin. "Today's decision by Entergy Louisiana to refuel affirms that Judge Murtha was right, and that his decision to deny the injunction was the correct one.”

A top Entergy official said the company decided to refuel after a close reading of Murtha's ruling and a reexamination of its own legal case.

“Entergy’s board of directors carefully reviewed the merits of our case and the arguments put forth by all parties during the recent hearing in District Court when we requested a preliminary injunction against the state of Vermont taking any actions to close Vermont Yankee,” said J. Wayne Leonard, Entergy’s chairman and chief executive officer. “Our board believes both the merits of the company’s legal position and the record strongly support its decision to continue to trial scheduled to begin on Sep. 12. On that basis, the decision was made to move forward with the refueling as planned.”

During a typical refueling outage, approximately 120 fuel assemblies, or one-third of the reactor core, are replaced with new fuel assemblies, Entergy noted in a press release. Additionally, workers use the outage to perform NRC-required inspections, testing and other work that cannot be performed while the reactor is operating. All told, approximately 5000 tasks are typically performed during the approximately 30-day period.

An additional workforce of 800 to 1000 skilled laborers is assembled to perform these tasks. These workers come from other Entergy nuclear facilities, craft labor unions and outside contractors.

* This post has been corrected to reflect the true cost of the fuel purchase, which is $50 million. The total cost to be incurred by Entergy during the refueling outage will be roughly $90 million.

In two consecutive sentences Shumlin uses the term "Entergy Lousiana." Is there any such company? The company that owns the Vermont Yankee plant is called Entergy. Why does he insist on playing such childish political word games? When he talks about the local ice cream company, which is owned by a Dutch-based international conglomerate, does he refer to them as "Unilever Holland"? Does he refer to "IBM New York"? No. Only one company doing business in Vt. is singled out for his ridiculous name-calling.

Google much? guess what their corporate url is? How dare Peter Shumlin register a URL and make a fake corporate site just to piss you off. is a web site for Entergy's business and residential customers in who live in the "Sportsman's Paradise". Other account holders will go respectively to,,, and the folks in the Big Easy can pay their bills at has no more or less connection to Vermont Yankee than any of the above. The Vermont Yankee part of Entergy is probably best linked at entergy-

Although I am no friend of Entergy, I have to agree with Murphy's sentiments; namely that the Governor's use of the term "Entergy Louisiana" is a cheap shot that leverages a negative stereotyping of Southern Culture. If Entergy moved it's head office to Maine, do you think the Guv would call it Entergy-Maine? I don't think so.

Think much? Entergy's corporate URL is Try it.

Then try the Vermont Secretary of State's corporate database:

There is no corporation by the name Entergy Louisiana doing business in Vermont. "Entergy Lousiana" does not own the VT Yankee plant and does no business in VT.

And when you go to the website, it doesn't take more than a few seconds for the rest of us to figure out that it refers only to the Entergy subsidiary that deals with Lousiana, not Vermont or any other state.

Nice try, but your triumph was a little premature.

Entergy, the corporation in which you can buy stock, has this URL
It is made up of various wholly-owned subsidiary companies that have their own websites. These companies all do business in the energy sector.

For example, Entergy Louisiana operates in the Gulf States, distributing power to people in Louisiana. It is a distribution company, not a generation company.

Entergy Nuclear operates the Entergy nuclear fleet, including Vermont Yankee. It is a generation company.

The only company you can buy stock in is Entergy-the-main-company, not the wholly-owned subsidiaries such as E-Louisiana or E-Nuclear. Shumlin shows his ignorance by saying "Entergy Louisiana" over and over, when that wholly-owned subsidiary has nothing to do with Vermont and does not operate in Vermont.

But wait. Maybe Shumlin isn't ignorant! Maybe he knows what he is doing, and by constantly referring to "Entergy-Louisiana" and how they "do things differently in Louisiana" he is hoping to whip up people against Southerners. Maybe this is part of his plan to demonize Vermont Yankee and make them seem "other" and "outside" and "not trustwothy" because they come "from far away." "They aren't like us. We should get rid of them."

It's called demagoguery.

No. I'm sure that can't be the case. Shumlin is probably just an ignorant guy who doesn't know how to find out how a big company is organized. He needs to learn how to Google.

Has any member of the local "media" had the brains to ask him why he keeps mentioning the Louisiana subsidiary of Entergy when talking about VY?

Who cares?

I care, because we deserve better than deliberate, cheap name-calling and demonization of your opponent.

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