“(Congressional Documents and Publications/ContentWorks via COMTEX) Washington, D.C.
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 inevitable.”
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 Vermont.”
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