Susan Smallheer of the Rutland Herald published as clear an explanation of the decommissioning trust fund and the site restoration fund as we can expect, give the murky PR put out by Entergy. Worthy reading for those who follow the money.
Staff Writer | March 21,2015
Entergy Nuclear took $12 million out of Vermont Yankee’s decommissioning trust fund last month to pay for its ongoing planning for the future cleanup and dismantling of the nuclear plant.
Last week Entergy filed notice it will take out another $6.5 million.
Despite the withdrawals, the trust fund remained at $665 million at the end of February, a slight increase of $400,000 over January’s total of $644.7 million.
Entergy has estimated the cost of radiological cleanup of the site at $1.2 billion. About half that amount is already in the decommissioning trust fund.
Martin Cohn, spokesman for Entergy, said Friday growth in the fund covered the withdrawal of funds, which are overseen by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission.
“I think you have to thank the stock market,” said Cohn.
Entergy gave notice Dec. 30, 2014, that it was seeking an $18 million disbursement from the fund, but took out less than that.
And last week, Entergy gave another 30-day notice that it planned to take out another $6.5 million. Cohn said all the money so far has gone into planning the decommissioning.
Cohn also said that in the first year of the Vermont Yankee site restoration fund, which was started last April with a $10 million contribution from Entergy, the fund has grown more than 10 percent. That fund now stands at $11,126,072.
Cohn said Entergy would make another $10 million contribution to the site restoration fund — which is different than the decommissioning trust fund — later this year. Another $5 million is expected from Entergy for a total contribution of $25 million.
He said the two funds have different investment managers. The decommissioning trust fund is managed by the Mellon Bank, and is invested “conservatively” in stocks and bonds. Cohn said he believed the site restoration fund is also handled by the Mellon Bank.
The site restoration fund will be used after the decommissioning and radiological cleanup of the Vermont Yankee site is completed; it will fund the so-called “green field” restoration. Estimates for restoring the 142-acre site range from $50 million (Entergy’s estimate) to $200 million (the figure used by the Windham Regional Commission.)
Entergy had originally said it wanted to take out $143 million to pay for the transfer of the high-level radioactive fuel into dry cask storage. But it has since changed tactics and taken out a line of credit worth that amount.
But Entergy has said it wants to use $225 million after 2020 toward handling spent fuel, a move the state of Vermont says it opposes.
Entergy Nuclear inherited the decommissioning trust fund in 2002 when it bought Vermont Yankee; it has never made any contribution to the fund. The fund has doubled in the 13 years Entergy has owned the plant.
Arnie Gundersen of Fairewinds Associates, a nuclear engineer and safety advocate who is currently working on a report for the Lintalhac Foundation about the Yankee decommissioning fund, said the fund goes up and down.
“There have been $15 million swings in the past, this one happened to go up, but just as often they go down,” said Gundersen.