Public Citizen Intervenes in FERC Complaint, Seeks Return of Nuclear Decommissioning Funds to Ratepayers

Aug. 19, 2002

Public Citizen Intervenes in FERC Complaint, Seeks Return of Nuclear Decommissioning Funds to Ratepayers

WASHINGTON D.C. ? A surplus in the fund to be used to decommission the Vermont Yankee nuclear plant should be returned to ratepayers ? not given to the nuclear plant?s future owner, Public Citizen told the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) today in a motion to intervene in a complaint.

In the complaint, filed late last month, the New England Coalition on Nuclear Pollution and Citizen?s Awareness Network asked FERC to rule that surplus decommissioning funds should be returned to ratepayers. Entergy has agreed to purchase the plant on the condition that the company be allowed to pocket portions of the anticipated surplus in the decommissioning trust fund after the plant is decommissioned.

Nuclear operators are required to establish trust funds through fees collected from ratepayers to cover the tremendous costs of decommissioning a nuclear power plant at the end of its operating lifetime.

Under a deal negotiated earlier this summer, Entergy plans to keep 45 percent of the surplus in Vermont Yankee?s decommissioning trust fund. Although the Vermont Public Service Board ruled that surplus decommissioning funds should be returned to ratepayers, non-Vermont utilities in Connecticut, New Hampshire, Maine and Massachusetts had a 45 percent interest in the Vermont Yankee plant and are outside the jurisdiction of the Vermont Board?s ruling.

“This amounts to corporate banditry,” said Wenonah Hauter, director of Public Citizen?s Critical Mass Energy and Environment Program. “The decommissioning funds were collected from ratepayers, and the full amount of any surplus should be returned to ratepayers regardless of which state they live in.”

Public Citizen?s filing also noted that allowing corporations to profit from a surplus in a decommissioning fund creates a dangerous incentive for nuclear owners to delay and cut corners on clean-up in order to save money.

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