“(Congressional Documents and Publications/ContentWorks via COMTEX)
Congressman Eliot Engel called on the New York State
Public Service Commission to deny Entergy Corp.’s effort to spin off Indian
Point 2 and 3 and four other of its nuclear energy generating plants into a
separate corporation, saying it could lead to increased electricity rates
and put taxpayers on the hook for millions of dollars.
The proposed spinoff company, Enexus Energy Corp., would start off some $3
billion in debt and its only assets would be their nuclear plants, including
the two at Indian Point, which were built to last 35 years and are now
almost 40 years old. Another plant, Vermont Yankee, is being investigated by
the Nuclear Regulatory Commission for radioactive leaks. Just last week the
Vermont State Senate voted to close that plant by 2012. Indian Point and
Vermont Yankee have applications pending for licenses to continue operating.
The Public Service Commission (PSC) is holding hearings on the proposed
spinoff. The PSC’s Senior Advisory Staff originally recommended that the PSC
reject the proposal unless debt was mitigated, the company’s long term
financial capabilities enhanced, and rate payer benefits provided. Entergy
resubmitted plans, but the Senior Staff said they did not meet the
requirements and Thursday the PSC ruled it would take further comment while
aiming to have a ruling by March 25th.
Rep. Engel, a senior member of the house Energy and Commerce Committee,
said, “This new corporation appears to be an effort to shed the legitimate
costs of running nuclear power plants and leave the taxpayers holding the
bag when the plants close or something goes wrong. Considering the age of
Indian Point and the number of problems it has had, including the inability
to set up a new warning system in a timely fashion, problems are
Opponents of the proposal say that as a limited liability corporation Enexus
would not be responsible for many of the expenses needed to run the plant.
They also fear that it would not be legally responsible for decontaminating
some 1.6 million cubic feet of radioactive soil in Westchester when the
plant is closed, leaving taxpayers responsible for perhaps hundreds of
millions of dollars in cleanup costs.
Another concern is that the new corporate structure would prevent the parent
company, Entergy, from shouldering responsibilities for paying costs related
to accidental spills or radioactive leaks.
Entergy declared bankruptcy in August 2006 after Hurricane Katrina caused it
$475 million in damages.
In addition to New York approval, the spin off requires authorization from
the U.S. Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC), the Nuclear Regulatory
Commission (NRC) and the Vermont Public Service Board. FERC and the NRC gave
initial approval on June 12, 2008, and July 28, 2008, respectively. Hearings
in the Vermont case were completed in August 2008. Final action has not been
taken by the Vermont Public Service Board.
Entergy wants to spinoff six reactors: FitzPatrick, Indian Point 2 and 3,
Pilgrim in Massachusetts, Palisades in Michigan and Vermont Yankee in
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