ACT NO. 160
Vermont Yankee nuclear power plant; certificate of public good;
dry cask storage of nuclear waste
This act continues and establishes a process to implement as state policy that a nuclear energy generating plant may be operated in the state only with the approval of the general assembly expressed in law after informed public discussion on pertinent factors, including the need for power, the economics and environmental impacts of long-term storage, and the choice of power sources among various alternatives.
The act amends 30 V.S.A. § 248 to prohibit operation of a nuclear plant beyond the date permitted in any certificate of public good, unless the general assembly approves and determines that operation will promote the general welfare, and until the public service board issues a certificate of public good under that section. If the general assembly fails to act by July 1, 2008, the act empowers the board to commence proceedings, but it prohibits issuance of a final order until the general assembly determines that operation will promote the general welfare and grants approval.
The act requires that any section 248 application to the public service board shall be submitted no later than four years before the date upon which the approval may take effect. Upon receipt of a petition, the board is to notify the general assembly. Then, the public service department, with the review of the joint energy committee, is to arrange for specified studies to be conducted. The studies and the public engagement process as a whole shall: facilitate public discussion of long-term issues relating to plant operation within the state; identify and assess the need for plant operation and its benefits, risks, and costs; and assess alternatives that may better promote the general welfare. The studies also shall identify and provide analysis of long-term accountability and financial responsibility issues, and long-term environmental, economic, and public health issues, including issues related to dry cask storage and decommissioning options.
The act establishes a public engagement process, and allows the costs of the studies and the public engagement process to be passed on to the nuclear plant owners. The act requires the department to prepare a report of proceedings, which shall include a discussion of principal contentions made by the members of the public and analyses by experts. The act anticipates that the general assembly will consider concurrently the storage of spent nuclear fuel derived from the operation of the plant after May 21, 2012, and the operation of the plant under the authority of 30 V.S.A. § 248.
The act provides that when the public service board considers operation of a nuclear energy generating plant beyond the permitted date, it shall evaluate the application under current assumptions and analyses, and not as an extension of assumptions and analyses that supported previous authority to operate. Finally, it requires the board to consider the objectives of the public engagement process and the issues the studies are required to address, in acting on a petition for nuclear facility operation.
Effective Date: July 1, 2006
The Vermont General Assembly
115 State Street