Entergy: Vermont Yankee to close by end of 2014

Updated at 1:35 p.m. 

Entergy Corp. says it will shut down the Vermont Yankee Nuclear Power Station by end of 2014, ending a long legal battle with the state.

“This was an agonizing decision and an extremely tough call for us,” Entergy’s chairman and CEO Leo Denault said in a statement. “Vermont Yankee has an immensely talented, dedicated and loyal workforce, and a solid base of support among many in the community. We recognize that closing the plant on this schedule was not the outcome they had hoped for, but we have reluctantly concluded that it is the appropriate action for us to take under the circumstances.”

Entergy, based in New Orleans, said the plant is expected to cease power production after its current fuel cycle and move to safe shutdown in the fourth quarter of 2014. The station will remain under the oversight of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission throughout the decommissioning process.

“We are committed to the safe and reliable operation of Vermont Yankee until shutdown, followed by a safe, orderly and environmentally responsible decommissioning process,” Denault said.

The company has been battling with the state since 2010. That’s when the Vermont Senate voted against a measure that would have authorized a state board to grant Vermont Yankee a permit to operate for an additional 20 years.

Vermont Yankee, the state’s only nuclear plant, opened in 1972 in Vernon, near the Massachusetts state line. In the past, the plant has provided as much as a third of the state’s electrical supply.

“They’ve made the right decision,” Gov. Peter Shumlin told Vermont Public Radio. “Thety’ve made the right decision for Vermont. They’ve made the right decision for Entergy.”

Shumlin said that more than half the plant’s workers live outside his state,  in New Hampshire or Massachusetts. 

“These employees are smart people,” Shumlin said. “They knew that the state of Vermont very much wanted the aging plant shut down. Entergy has now made the conclusion that that’s the right thing to do. and now my job as governor is to work with the other governors – who’ve pledged to do so – to help these folks find great jobs.”

Shumlin said he talked to Gov. Deval Patrick of Massachusetts and Gov. Maggie Hassan of New Hampshire on Tuesday morning.

The Associated Press contributed to this story.