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VT Yankee Decommissioning Fund — Toxic?

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The downward spiral of the Vermont Yankee Decommissioning Fund continues.

As I pointed out in "Fair Game" last month the value this fund — set aside to clean up the Vermont Yankee nuclear power plant once it's shut down — has been dropping precipitously since the end of 2007.

By early October it had dropped below $400 million for the first time in more than two years.

The Department of Public Service has been asking Entergy to provide them with ongoing, monthly updated numbers. Here's a rundown:

March 31, 2006:   $391,882,501

Sept 30, 2006:     $402,410,980

March 31, 2007:   $422,182,237

Sept 30, 2007:     $440,003,672

March 31, 2008:   $427,406,446

Sept 30, 2008:    $397,035,937

This week we learned that the fund dropped another $34 million in just one month, and now stands at $364 million.

Yikes.

When Entergy bought the plant in 2002, the fund's value was roughly $304 million.

It is expected that the cost of decommissioning Vermont Yankee could run as high as $1.2 billion. Critics fear that if the decommissioning fund is not sufficient that taxpayers will be on the hook to clean up the plant. VY officials say the plant could be mothballed for up to 60 years until enough investment money acrues in the fund to break down the reactor site.

Expect this issue to be a major point of discussion as Entergy tries to: A) spinoff its ownership of Vermont Yankee to a new subsidiary, and B) the legislature debates whether to give VY a 20-year extention on its operating license. It's license to operate expires in 2012.

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