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S.124

AN ACT RELATING TO A CERTIFICATE OF PUBLIC GOOD FOR EXTENDING THE OPERATING LICENSE OF A NUCLEAR POWER PLANT

It is hereby enacted by the General Assembly of the State of Vermont:

Sec. 1.  LEGISLATIVE POLICY AND PURPOSE

(a)  It remains the policy of the state that a nuclear energy generating plant may be operated in Vermont only with the explicit approval of the General Assembly expressed in law after full, open, and informed public deliberation and discussion with respect to pertinent factors, including the state’s need for power, the economics and environmental impacts of long‑term storage of nuclear waste, and choice of power sources among various alternatives.

(b)  It is the purpose of this act to establish a statutory process to implement this policy with respect to the operation of any nuclear energy generating plant in the state beyond the date of any certificate of public good granted and in force, including any in force as of January 1, 2006.

(c)  Pursuant to No. 74 of the Acts of the 2005 session, the owner of the Vermont Yankee nuclear power station:

(1)  is required to obtain the approval of the general assembly before storage of spent fuel derived from the operation of Vermont Yankee nuclear power station after March 21, 2012, and also

(2)  is required to obtain a section 248 certificate of public good from the public service board before operation beyond that date.

(d)  It is appropriate that the spent fuel storage issue be framed and addressed as a part of the larger societal discussion of broader economic and environmental issues relating to the operation of a nuclear facility in the state, including an assessment of the potential need for the operation of the facility and its economic benefits, risks, and costs; and in order to allow opportunity to assess alternatives that may be more cost‑effective or that otherwise may better promote the general welfare.

(e)  It is appropriate for the general assembly to require that when the public service board addresses the issue of whether to issue a certificate of public good for the operation of the plant beyond the date specified in a previous certificate of public good, it evaluate the issue under present day cost benefit assumptions and analyses forming the basis of the certificate of public good for the current operation of the facility.

(f)  For the foregoing reasons, the general assembly shall consider concurrently the issue of storage of spent nuclear fuel derived from the operation of Vermont Yankee nuclear power station after March 21, 2012 as set forth in No. 74 of the Acts of the 2005 session and the operation of Vermont Yankee after March 21, 2012 as set forth in 30 V.S.A. § 248, and shall grant the approval or deny the approval of such activities concurrently.  Accordingly, if the general assembly approves and determines that the operation of the facility beyond the date permitted in any certificate of public good granted pursuant to this title will promote the public welfare, then the approval of the general assembly for the storage of spent fuel derived from the operation of the Vermont Yankee nuclear power station after March 21, 2012 will also be deemed approval as required in 10 V.S.A. § 6522.

Sec. 2.  30 V.S.A. § 248(e) is amended to read:

(e)(1)  Before a certificate of public good is issued for the construction of a nuclear fission energy generating plant within the state, the public service board shall obtain the approval of the general assembly and the assembly's determination that the construction of the proposed facility will promote the general welfare.  The public service board shall advise the general assembly of any petition submitted under this section for the construction of a nuclear fission energy generating plant within this state, by written notice delivered to the speaker of the house of representatives and to the president of the senate.  The department of public service shall submit recommendations relating to the proposed plant, and shall make available to the general assembly all relevant material.  The requirements of this subsection shall be in addition to the findings set forth in subsection (b) of this section. 

(2)  No nuclear energy generating plant within this state may be operated beyond the date permitted in any certificate of public good granted pursuant to this title, including any certificate in force as of January 1, 2006, unless the general assembly approves and determines that the operation will promote the general welfare, and until the public service board issues a certificate of public good under this section.  If the general assembly has not acted under this subsection by July 1, 2008, the board may commence proceedings under this section and under 10 V.S.A. chapter 157, relating to the storage of radioactive material, but may not issue a final order or certificate of public good until the general assembly determines that operation will promote the general welfare and grants approval for that operation.

Sec. 3.  30 V.S.A. § 248(m) is added to read:

(m)  In any matter with respect to which the board considers the operation of a nuclear energy generating plant beyond the date permitted in any certificate of public good granted under this title, including any certificate in effect as of January 1, 2006, the board shall evaluate the application under current assumptions and analyses and not an extension of the cost benefit assumptions and analyses forming the basis of the previous certificate of public good for the operation of the facility.

Sec. 4.  30 V.S.A. § 254 is added to read:

§ 254.  CONSTRUCTION OR EXTENDED OPERATION OF NUCLEAR

            PLANT; PUBLIC ENGAGEMENT PROCESS

(a)  Time lines for approval.

(1)  Any petition for approval of construction of a nuclear energy generating plant within the state, or any petition for approval of the operation of a nuclear energy generating plant beyond the date established in a certificate of public good issued under this title, must be submitted to the public service board no later than four years before the date upon which the approval may take effect.

(2)  Upon receipt of a petition for approval of construction or operation as provided under this section, the public service board shall notify the general assembly of that fact.  The public service department, with the review of the joint energy committee, is authorized and directed to arrange for studies to be conducted as appropriate to support the general assembly in the fact finding and public engagement process established in subsection (b) of this section.

(3)  Upon completion of the studies, the public service department shall provide the studies to the public service board and to the committees on natural resources and energy, the house committee on commerce, and the senate committee on finance, together with other information requested by the general assembly.

(b)  Public engagement and fact-finding.

(1)  The objectives of the studies to be arranged by the public service department with the review of the joint energy committee and the objectives of the public engagement process as a whole shall be:

(A)  to facilitate public discussion of long‑term economic and environmental issues relating to the operation of any nuclear facility in the state;

(B)  to identify and assess the potential need for the operation of the facility and its long‑term economic and environmental benefits, risks, and costs; and

(C)  to assess all practical alternatives to those set forth in the applicant’s petition that may be more cost‑effective or that otherwise may better promote the general welfare.

(2)  The studies arranged by the department in consultation with the joint energy committee and the public engagement process, in general, shall:

(A)  identify, collect information on, and provide analysis of long‑term accountability and financial responsibility issues, such as:

(i)  funding plans for guardianship of nuclear waste after licensure but before removal of nuclear waste from the site;

(ii)  closure obligations, dates of completion, and assurance of funds to secure fulfillment of those closure obligations;

(iii)  federal obligations and assurance of funds to provide for any undischarged federal responsibilities;

(iv)  funding for emergency management requirements and evacuation plans before and after plant closure; and

(v)  any other financial responsibility related to any periods in which the facility is out of service.

(B)  identify, collect information on, and provide analysis of long‑term environmental, economic, and public health issues, including issues relating to dry cask storage of nuclear waste and decommissioning options.

(C)  identify, collect information on, and provide analysis of current economic issues, in light of the fact that the operation of the nuclear energy generating plant beyond the date permitted in any previous certificate of public good is to be evaluated under present day cost-benefit assumptions and analyses and not as an extension of the cost-benefit assumptions and analyses forming the basis of the previous certificate of public good for the operation of the facility.

(3)  In conducting its part of the public engagement process, the department shall conduct no less than three public meetings.  The meetings shall be at separate locations within the state, in proximity to the nuclear energy generating facilities involved as well as in other locations as determined by the department, and each shall be noticed by at least two advertisements, each occurring between one and three weeks prior to the meetings, in newspapers having general circulation within the state and within the municipalities in which the meetings are to be held.  Copies of the notices shall be provided to the public service board, the general assembly, the agency of natural resources, the department of health, the agency of transportation, the attorney general, and each retail electricity provider within the state.  During this public engagement and fact finding process the department shall have authority to retain expert witnesses, counsel, advisors, stenographic and other research assistance it may require.  The department may compensate the same and allocate related costs, as well as the costs of procuring the studies, to the owner of the Vermont Yankee nuclear power station, in the same manner authorized for personnel in particular proceedings under sections 20 and 21 of this title.  The department shall prepare a report of the proceedings containing a discussion of the principal contentions made by members of the public, analyses by any expert witnesses or consultants retained by the department, presentations by any state agency, and by any utility, and shall provide the same to the members of the committees on natural resources and energy, the house committee on commerce, and the senate committee on finance, and to the public.

(4)  The public engagement and fact finding process set forth in this section may be held in conjunction with or separately from the statewide public engagement process on energy planning to be conducted by the department pursuant to the energy security and reliability act.

(5)  The general assembly shall conduct proceedings it deems appropriate in order to complete the fact finding and public engagement process.

(c)  Public service board action.  In acting on a petition subject to this section, the board shall consider the objectives of the studies to be arranged by the department, the objectives of the public engagement process as a whole, and the general and specific issues that the studies are required to address, as specified in subsection (b) of this section.

 



Published by:

The Vermont General Assembly
115 State Street
Montpelier, Vermont


www.leg.state.vt.us