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The Feds say yes, but right now Vermont is not saying a word as Entergy Corp. wants to keep Vermont Yankee nuclear plant open past its 2012 closing date.

That is why Entergy filed a lawsuit in Vermont to keep the Vermont Yankee nuclear power plant open past 2012.

The New Orleans-based company already has federal approval to keep the plant running until 2032, but it so far has been unable to secure state approval.

The lawsuit said U.S. Supreme Court precedent has found states have no authority over nuclear plant licensing. It also says Vermont might be interfering with federal authority to regulate the wholesale power market.

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In 2002, Entergy officials signed an agreement with Vermont officials saying Entergy would seek approval from the Vermont Public Service Board if it sought to operate the plant beyond March 21, 2012.

Entergy officials said doing so was in accordance with the process and standards for securing the state certificate in effect at that time.

But the Vermont General Assembly invalidated that provision in 2006, therefore breaking the signed agreement from 2002, Entergy said.

Entergy said it has done everything in its power to appease the state, including filing a petition for a “certificate of public good” in 2008 (required by Vermont for all new gas and electric purchases, investments, and facilities including transmission upgrades), offering Vermont utilities a 20-year power purchase agreement at reduced rates, offering to establish a “date certain” for the commencement of decommissioning the plant, and trying to sell the property.

Entergy said it was unable to sell the property due to the uncertain political climate in Vermont and, more specifically, “due to the stated intent of Vermont officials to shut down the plant.”

Entergy said the lawsuit filed today comes in part on legal principles relating to federal law.

Under the Atomic Energy Act Preemption, “a state has no authority over … nuclear power plant licensing and operations or … the radiological safety of a nuclear power plant,” Entergy said. “Vermont has asserted that it can shut down a federally licensed and operating nuclear power plant, and that it can regulate the plant based upon Vermont’s safety concerns.”

Entergy also said the Federal Power Act Preemption and the commerce clause of the U.S. Constitution prevents states from interfering in regulation of rates in the wholesale power market.

It also said the law bars states from discriminatory regulation of private markets that favors in-state over out-of-state residents.

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