With the start of the legislative session just three months away, the relicensure of Vermont Yankee was front and center during a Montpelier conference of business leaders this morning.
Without approval from Vermont lawmakers, state utility regulators cannot issue a decision on whether the state's lone nuclear power plant can operate for another 20 years.
More than 150 people packed a hotel conference room to hear energy industry leaders and regulators talk about the state's energy future during the Associated Industries of Vermont's annual meeting.
In the morning, officials from the Vermont Electric Power Company (VELCO), Green Mountain Power and Entergy Nuclear Vermont Yankee spoke to the crowd, which was composed largely of business owners, lobbyists and a few lawmakers.
Though the state's electric grid, and focus on developing renewables and promoting energy efficiency were hot topics, the hottest one of all was whether or not to relicense Vermont Yankee, the state's lone nuclear power plant, to operate another 20 years. Its license is set to expire in 2012.
Currently, VY and the state's two largest utilities — GMP and Central Vermont Public Service (CVPS) — are attempting to negotiate a power purchase agreement that would set out the terms in which VY would provide, and the utilities purchase, power during the 20-year relicensure.
The three have been negotiating for about 18 months, said Jay Thayer, VY's vice president. "We know what they want, and they know our limitations, and we're trying to come to an agreement. It's been very complicated."