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Speaking truth about power

We are down to the wire on Vermont Yankee. On Nov. 15-16, a meeting of a key federal subcommittee in Brattleboro is expected to be the last public hearing in Vermont before the Nuclear Regulatory Commission makes its decision early next year on Entergy’s proposal to increase power at the ageing Vernon reactor. The meeting also marks a unique confluence of state and federal regulatory interests, since the last real remaining state hurdle — a certificate from the Public Service Board — could hinge on this subcommittee’s recommendation to the full NRC.

The hearing is important, because Entergy’s application is not just about a 20 percent “uprate.” The subtext of the uprate application is Entergy’s intention to run VY for 20 years beyond its initial license period, which ends in 2012, and run it hotter than it was designed for. The Louisiana-based corporation has hinted that without the ability to generate and sell additional power, Vermont Yankee would cease to be profitable and thus could close even before its current license expires.

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