On January 11, 2019, Entergy Corporation completed the sale of Entergy Nuclear Vermont Yankee to subsidiaries of NorthStar Group Services, which will decommission the Vermont Yankee Nuclear Power Station site. The sale is a first-of-its-kind in the nuclear power industry – a permanent ownership and license transfer to a company that is slated to perform timely and efficient decommissioning and site restoration.
“The sale completion is a major step toward the safe, timely and efficient decommissioning of Vermont Yankee … and is a positive outcome for the Town of Vernon, Windham County, the State of Vermont and other stakeholders,” states the associated press release from Entergy. “In addition, Entergy is making progress on its corporate strategy of exiting the merchant nuclear power business.”
The NorthStar decommissioning team includes Orano USA (reactor vessel segmentation and used fuel management support); Waste Control Specialists (waste management, packaging, transport and disposal); and, Burns & McDonnell (engineering and regulatory support).
In November 2016, Entergy and NorthStar announced the sale agreement. On October 11, 2018, the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) issued an Order approving the transfer of the operating license for the Vermont Yankee nuclear power plant from Entergy Nuclear Operations, Inc. (Entergy) to NorthStar Nuclear Decommissioning Company, LLC (NorthStar NDC). Entergy requested the transfer to NorthStar NDC to decommission the plant, which ceased operations in December 2014. The Order and other documents related to the license transfer review are available in the NRC’s ADAMS online database at ML18242A638.
Based on the staff’s review, NRC approved the application for transfer of the licenses for the Vermont Yankee nuclear power plant subject to the following conditions:
- prior to the closing of the license transfer, NorthStar NDC and NorthStar Vermont Yankee, LLC (NorthStar VY) would provide the Directors of NRC’s Office of Nuclear Material Safety and Safeguards (NMSS) and Office of Nuclear Reactor Regulation (NRR) satisfactory documentary evidence that they have obtained the appropriate amount of insurance required of a licensee under 10 CFR 140.11(a)(4) and 10 CFR 50.54(w) of the Commission’s regulations, consistent with the exemptions issued to Vermont Yankee on April 15, 2016;
- NorthStar VY and NorthStar NDC would take no action to cause NorthStar Group Services, Inc. to void, cancel or modify the $140 million support agreement to provide funding for Vermont Yankee as represented in the application without prior written consent of the NRR Director; and,
- NorthStar VY would obtain a performance bond if a settlement agreement with the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) on federal reimbursements for spent fuel management expenses is not entered into by January 1, 2022.
The performance bond would become effective January 1, 2022 initially in the amount of $4.3 million and it will be renewed annually. This amount would cover the annual amount of Independent Spent Fuel Storage Installation (ISFSI) operation and maintenance costs projected for 2022-2024. If a settlement is not reached by January 1, 2024, this amount would be increased to $9.3 million, which covers the annual amount of ISFSI operation and maintenance costs projected for years after 2024.
On December 6, 2018, the Vermont Public Utility Commission issued an order approving the sale of Entergy Nuclear Vermont Yankee and an amended Certificate of Public Good that authorizes NorthStar to own, possess the licenses for and decommission Vermont Yankee. The transaction closed on terms consistent with the companies’ previously disclosed financial commitments and assurances. No contribution to the nuclear decommissioning trust was required.
Vermont Yankee Nuclear Power Station is a single unit boiling water reactor located in Vernon, Vermont. It began commercial operation in 1972. Entergy acquired the plant from Vermont Yankee Nuclear Power Corporation in 2002. The plant permanently ceased operations on December 29, 2014.
Entergy Corporation is an integrated energy company engaged primarily in electric power production and retail distribution operations. Entergy owns and operates power plants with approximately 30,000 megawatts of electric generating capacity, including nearly 9,000 megawatts of nuclear power. Entergy delivers electricity to 2.9 million utility customers in Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi and Texas. Entergy has annual revenues of approximately $11 billion and more than 13,000 employees.
NorthStar Group Services, based in New York, is a comprehensive facility and environmental solutions company with more than $600 million in annual sales and licenses in all 50 states throughout the country. NorthStar owns and maintains a large, nationwide inventory of specialized dismantling equipment and employs more than 3,000 people.