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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 power facility 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.

(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 fission plant in the state beyond the date of any certificate of public good granted and in force. 

Sec. 2.  30 V.S.A. § 102(d) is added to read:

(d)  No nuclear fission plant within this state may be operated beyond the date permitted in any certificate of public good granted pursuant to this section and in force as of January 1, 2006, unless the public service board finds that the same will promote the general good of the state and issues a certificate to that effect pursuant to the requirements of section 248 of this title.  An application for extension, renewal or re-issuance of a certificate of public good for disposal of nuclear waste from a nuclear fission plant, or for any other similar activity that allows the operation of a nuclear fission plant in the state beyond the date permitted in any certificate of public good previously granted shall be deemed to be a petition to operate a nuclear fission plant within this state.

Sec. 3.  30 V.S.A. § 231(c) is added to read:

(c)  No nuclear fission plant within this state may be operated beyond the date permitted in any certificate of public good granted pursuant to this section and in force as of January 1, 2006, unless the public service board finds that the same will promote the general good of the state and issues a certificate to that effect pursuant to the requirements of section 248 of this title.  An application for extension of a license of a nuclear fission plant, for re-licensure of a nuclear fission plant, for disposal of nuclear waste from a nuclear fission plant, or for any other similar activity that requires the operation of a nuclear fission plant in the state beyond the date permitted in any certificate of public good previously granted shall be deemed to be a petition to operate a nuclear fission plant within this state.

Sec. 4.  30 V.S.A. § 248(e) is amended to read:

(e)  Before a certificate of public good is issued for the construction or operation of a nuclear fission plant within the state, the public service board shall obtain the approval of the general assembly and the assembly's issue a certificate of public good for the same under this section upon a determination that the construction or operation of the proposed facility will promote the general welfare.  Before a certificate of public good for the construction or operation of a nuclear fission plant within the state may take effect, the general assembly shall provide authorization by law that a nuclear fission plant may operate in this state.

(1)  Time lines for approval.

(A)  A petition for approval of construction or operation of a nuclear fission plant within the state must be submitted to the public service board no later than four years before the date upon which the approval may take effect.  The public service board shall advise the general assembly of any petition submitted under this section for the construction or operation of a nuclear fission plant within this state, by written notice delivered to the speaker of the House of Representatives and to the president of the Senate. 

(B)  Upon receipt of a petition for approval the public service board shall conduct the public engagement and fact finding process set out in subdivision (2) of this subsection, complete the same, and provide a report to the general assembly no later than two years before the date upon which the approval may take effect.

(2)  Public Engagement and fact-finding.

(A)  The board shall conduct a public engagement and fact finding process on any petition to construct or operate a nuclear fission plant in the state.  The objectives of the public engagement process shall be to facilitate public discussion of broader economic and environmental issues relating to the operation of a nuclear facility in the state; to identify and assess the potential need for the operation of the facility and its risks and costs; to allow opportunity to assess alternatives to those set forth in the applicant’s petition that may be more cost effective or otherwise promote the general welfare; and to provide a public process for the collection and presentation of information to the general assembly necessary for its determination that the construction or operation will promote the general good of the state.

(B)  The public engagement and fact finding process shall:

(i)  identify, collect information on and provide analysis of long term accountability and financial responsibility issues, such as funding plans for guardianship and security of nuclear waste after licensure but before removal; closure obligations, dates of completion, and escrow of funds to secure fulfillment of such closure obligations; federal obligations and escrow of funds to provide for any un-discharged federal responsibilities; funding for emergency management requirements; funding for evacuation plans, and financial responsibility for any periods in which the facility is out of service.

(ii))  identify, collect information on and provide analysis of environmental and public health issues,

(iii)  identify, collect information on and provide analysis of current economic issues, in which the operation of the nuclear fission plant beyond the date permitted in any certificate of public good currently granted is to be considered an entirely new and independent activity to be evaluated under present day cost-benefit assumptions and analyses and not an extension of the cost-benefit assumptions and analyses forming the basis of the certificate of public good for the current operation of the facility.

(C)  In conducting the public engagement process the board shall conduct no less than three public meetings.  The hearings shall be conducted to encourage public groups and individuals seeking to present alternatives, and shall be non-technical in nature as much as feasible.  The meetings shall be at separate locations within the state, in proximity to the nuclear fission facilities involved or as otherwise required by the board, 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 department of public service, any entity appointed by the public service board to represent the public under authority of this title, the agency of natural resources, the department of health, the agency of transportation, the attorney general, each retail electricity provider within the state, and any public interest group that requests, or has made a standing request for, a copy of the notice.  During this public engagement and fact finding process the board shall have authority to retain expert witnesses, counsel, advisors, stenographic and other research assistance it may require.  The board may compensate the same and assess the costs thereof in the manner authorized for personnel in particular proceedings under sections 20 and 21 of this title.  The board 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 board, presentations by any state agency, and by any utility, and provide the same to the general assembly and to the public.

(D)  The Board shall also conduct such other hearings and proceedings as may be necessary for it to make its findings required by this section or section 231 of this title and to obtain information that it may require to evaluate whether the operation of a nuclear fission facility in the state is in the public good. 

(3)  General Assembly process.

(A)  No later than two years before the date upon which the approval may take effect the board shall submit to the general assembly a report of its findings from the public engagement process required by this section and any other findings and information relevant to the operation of a nuclear fission plant in the state.  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.  The general assembly shall consider the report of the board on the public engagement process, and any information and materials collected in the public engagement process.  The board shall also present to the general assembly any proposed certificate of public good and proposed final order thereon, and make available to the general assembly any other information it may require, excepting that of a proprietary nature.

(B)  A certificate of public good issued by the board under this subsection may not take effect unless the general assembly has by law approved the operation of a nuclear fission plant in the state.

 



Published by:

The Vermont General Assembly
115 State Street
Montpelier, Vermont


www.leg.state.vt.us