Entergy to close, decommission Vermont Yankee beginning in 2014

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Entergy to close, decommission Vermont Yankee beginning in 2014

Tue, 08/27/2013 - 4:28am -- tim

Entergy Corporation on August 27 announced it plans to close and decommission its Vermont Yankee Nuclear Power Station in Vernon. The station is expected to cease power production after its current fuel cycle and move to safe shutdown in the fourth quarter of 2014. The station will remain under the oversight of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission throughout the decommissioning process.
Entergy had been fighting the state of Vermont on several legal fronts and even though the New Orleans company was able to win those battles, it could not overcome the greater economics of current energy supply and demand. The new fight between Entergy and the state might be over when the site is fully decommissioned and the site remediated. Federal law allows the operator to put the plant into SAFSTOR, or mothballed, up to 60 years before the plant is fully dismantled. 
Against the view of some analysts, Entergy decided to refuel the plant earlier this year. That was its 30th refueling since the plant went online in 1972 and now its last. 
Vermont Yankee employs about 650 workers, about a third of whom live in Vermont. Not all of those jobs will immediately go away once the reactor goes off line. The decommissioning process will require significant labor and ongoing monitoring.
"They've made the right decision," Governor Peter Shumlin said on VPR's Vermont Edition shortly after the decision was made public. "They've made the right decision for Vermont. They've made the right decision for Entergy."
"This is huge for Windham County," Patricia Moulton Powden of the Brattleboro Development Credit Corporation told Vermont Business Magazine. "We can't say this is a surprise. We knew this day was coming. We just didn't think it would come so soon. We were hoping we had two or three more years. Our first concern is the 630-plus employees there."
Powden said the economy of the region, which has been struggling, will suffer not only from the loss of jobs, which will not come right away but eventually, but also from the contributions to the community made by those employees and by Vermont Yankee itself. She said the average wage was over $100,000 and the total payroll is about $66 million.
"This was an agonizing decision and an extremely tough call for us," said Leo Denault, Entergy's chairman and chief executive officer. "Vermont Yankee has an immensely talented, dedicated and loyal workforce, and a solid base of support among many in the community. We recognize that closing the plant on this schedule was not the outcome they had hoped for, but we have reluctantly concluded that it is the appropriate action for us to take under the circumstances." 
Entergy said in a statement that the decision to close Vermont Yankee in 2014 was based on a number of financial factors, including:
-- A natural gas market that has undergone a transformational shift in supply due to the impacts of shale gas, resulting in sustained low natural gas prices and wholesale energy prices.
-- A high cost structure for this single unit plant. Since 2002, the company has invested more than $400 million in the safe and reliable operation of the facility. In addition, the financial impact of cumulative regulation is especially challenging to a small plant in these market conditions.
-- Wholesale market design flaws that continue to result in artificially low energy and capacity prices in the region, and do not provide adequate compensation to merchant nuclear plants for the fuel diversity benefits they provide.
Julien Dumoulin-Smith of UBS Securities LLC said last January in a report that, "We believe both its New York Fitzpatrick and Vermont Yankee plants are at risk of retirement given their small size." He questioned whether operating such plants at a loss made sense. UBS has said that Vermont Yankee is the most ‘tenuously positioned plant.’
Doumoulin-Smith suggested that Entergy might not refuel in 2013 and instead close the plant right away. Shortly thereafter, however, Vermont Business Magazine reported that Entergy would indeed refuel the Vernon reactor, which would keep it going until the fall of 2014.
Dumoulin-Smith told VBM last February that he wouldn't speculate on why Entergy decided to refuel Yankee, but said, ‘It’s clear that management has committed to operate the plant at a cash negative.’
Vermont Yankee is the smallest unit in the Entergy fleet, with a 605 megawatt output. Nuclear electric generation is losing ground to cheaper natural gas-fired plants, which also come with fewer regulatory requirements.
Dumoulin-Smith sent VBM his assessment of Entergy's decision to close the plant. He suggests that the State of Vermont might challenge the SAFSTOR process. He also, as he did earlier this year, suggests that Entergy and other operators will continue to shutter their smaller nuclear plants across the country. He also reiterates UBS's "sell" status for Entergy shares (ETR) with a target prices of $63, which is what it is trading at as of August 27, near its 52-week low ($61.09 - $72.98).
Dumoulin-Smith Analysis:

"Plan to close VY in 4Q14 is modestly accretive, saves $150-200M thru ‘17

Mgmt announced today they intend to SAFSTOR the plant at the end of its current fuel cycle in 4Q14. ETR cited the high cost structure of the small single unit plant; incl. maint capex, we estimate the all-in cost was ~$50/MWh. ETR will recognize a $181M after-tax impairment in 3Q and $55-60M in severance and employee costs through the end of the year in conjunction with the decision to retire.

Break-even EPS in ‘13 and declining in future years

Today’s press release highlighted that VY will have a roughly break-even EPS contribution this year, declining in future years. Mgmt expects the decision to be ‘modestly accretive’ within two years after shutdown (cont. ops into 4Q14) and to ultimately improve cash flow $150-200M in total through 2017, roughly inline w/ our plant estimates. We note the discrepancy between EPS/EBITDA and FCF metrics due to large (~$50/kW-yr or more) maintenance capex requirements.

Decommissioning trust of $582M meets NRC minimum of $566M 

Excluding the $40M parent guarantee, the NDT exceeds the NRC decom. min. However, now that the plant will retire, ETR will conduct a full funding study to true-up to actual (likely higher) estimated decom. costs; whether VT will allow SAFSTOR and the associated 60 years to accrue the funds is also a key question.

Valuation: Sell and $63 PT unchanged; more nuke retirements to come?

Our PT remains SOP-derived. We continue to expect more small single-unit nuke retirements at ETR and across the industry; at ETR, while this decision is accretive it highlights just how economically challenged ETR’s merchant nuclear fleet is. 
Vermont Yankee economics are clearly challenged
We include below our Vermont Yankee financial estimates; our estimates are roughly inline with management’s commentary around declining EPS after breakeven in ‘13 as well as roughly $150-200Mn in FCF deficits from ‘15 ‘ ‘17."

Table 1: Vermont Yankee Earnings and Free Cash Flow Estimates

Source: Company reports, UBS estimates

Entergy stated August 27 that making the decision now and operating through the fourth quarter of 2014 allows time to duly and properly plan for a safe and orderly shutdown and prepare filings with the NRC regarding shutdown and decommissioning. Entergy said it will establish a decommissioning planning organization responsible for planning and executing the safe and efficient decommissioning of the facility. Once the plant is shut down, workers will de-fuel the reactor and place the plant into SAFSTOR, a process whereby a nuclear facility is placed and maintained in a condition that allows it to be safely secured, monitored and stored.
"We are committed to the safe and reliable operation of Vermont Yankee until shutdown, followed by a safe, orderly and environmentally responsible decommissioning process," Denault said.
The decision to SAFSTOR the plant, instead of a full decommission, will likely generate a fight from the Vermont side.
"That would not be our first choice, by a long shot," Pat Moulton Powden said. "There will be fewer jobs with SAFSTOR than with a full decommission and returning the site to a green field." 
Governor Shumlin said he will be working with Entergy, the NRC, and Vermont's congressional delegation "to return it to a green field as soon as possible so we can use it for other economic development opportunities in Windham County." 
Another concern is the decommissioning fund itself. While Energy states that the funds are available, its ultimate cost will likely be higher and the question then becomes, who pays for it.
Shumlin said: "Vermonters should not be paying for the decommissioning of Vermont Yankee. That was the promise that was made when it was built... I'm going to work to ensure that the promise is delivered upon."
Governor Shumlin also issued the following statement:
‘This is the right decision for Vermont as we move to a greener energy future. Entergy's announcement today confirms what we have known for some time. Operating and maintaining this aging nuclear facility is too expensive in today’s world. Vermont utilities no longer have contracts with Vermont Yankee, and our regional grid is not reliant upon it for stability. Vermont has made clear its desire to move toward more sustainable, renewable sources of electricity, and many of our surrounding states are doing likewise.   
"Vermont Yankee was built with an expectation that it would operate for a limited period of years. While it is no secret that Vermont and Entergy have disagreed on how long that should be, it is now clear that Vermont Yankee is a part of the energy past, and will not be a part of our energy future.   
"I spoke with Entergy Chairman and CEO Leo Denault today and we agreed to move beyond our past disputes and work cooperatively toward a timely shutdown and a smooth transition for VY workers and the surrounding communities in Vermont, New Hampshire and Massachusetts. I grew up in Windham County and I know that the closure of this plant will be a significant upheaval for the region, and for the state as a whole. We have been preparing for this day through education and economic development efforts in the region, and we will redouble our efforts now that the closure date for the plant is certain. 
"For the workers at Vermont Yankee, who will directly feel the pain of job loss, I pledge the resources of my administration to move quickly to provide the training and services they will need. I will work closely with the legislature, our federal delegation, the local towns and business organizations, and my fellow governors in Massachusetts and New Hampshire to support the Vermont Yankee workforce and the affected communities. We will also focus on the timely decommissioning of the plant to return the site to a greenfield capable of other productive economic uses as swiftly as possible.’
Many other Vermonters weighed in on the closure:
Senator Patrick Leahy:
‘Safe decommissioning of Vermont Yankee is an issue of enormous and overarching importance for Vermont.  Every precaution must be taken to insure public and worker safety during the decommissioning, and to insure that we do not leave a public safety nightmare for future generations of Vermonters.’ 
Entergy has said that they intend to employ the ‘SAFSTOR’ approach, meaning they intend to mothball the plant, largely intact, for 20 or more years before cleanup is fully addressed.  In 2011 Leahy, Senator Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and Rep. Peter Welch (D-Vt.) wrote to the chairman of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC), [LINK to letter: http://www.leahy.senate.gov/download/delegation-to-nrc-safstor] expressing their deep concerns about the SAFSTOR approach as it might be applied to Vermont Yankee.  Their letter said, in part:  ‘SAFSTOR would let Entergy off the hook for clean-up, waste disposal, and remediation of the plant site in Vernon, Vermont, for years, or even decades.’   
Instead, Leahy noted, moving quickly to full decommissioning and cleanup would have the added advantage of using the plant’s current highly skilled and experienced workforce, rather than trying to train a new generation of workers with the plant and its older technology decades from now.   
Leahy said the NRC should now be pressed to approve a decommissioning approach which places the highest priority on safety, now and into the future, and not to sacrifice the public interest in the interest of Entergy’s bottom line.   
Leahy said, ‘The full cost of this decommissioning needs to be paid by the plant owner and must not become a burden for Vermont or for the federal government.’

Mary Powell, president and CEO of Green Mountain Power: 
‘Entergy’s decision to close the plant for financial reasons will not affect GMP customers. We have not purchased electricity from Vermont Yankee since March 2012 and there will be no immediate or direct impact on our customers. We have been very successful meeting our goals of providing our customers with low cost, low carbon and reliable electricity and will continue to do so, whether or not VY is operating.’
Senator Bernie Sanders:
‘I am delighted that Entergy will shut down the Vermont Yankee nuclear plant which has had so many problems in recent years. There is a strong desire on the part of the people of the state of Vermont to close the plant that was scheduled to operate for only 40 years,’ Sanders said. 
‘The closure will allow Vermont to focus on leading the nation toward safer and more economical sources of sustainable and renewable energy like solar, wind, geothermal and biomass,’ added Sanders, a member of the Senate energy and environment committees. 
While welcoming news of the shutdown, Sanders said the jobs of Vermont Yankee employees must be preserved while the plant is safely decommissioned. 
‘Entergy must go through a decommissioning process as soon as possible, a process which will require many workers,’ Sanders said. ‘Clearly there are no people who know the Vermont Yankee plant better than those who are currently employed and they should be given top priority for those new jobs.’
Jeffery Wimette, Business Manager for the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, Local #300 which has 180 members working at Vermont Yankee:
‘This is a tragic day for hard-working people in Vermont, and for the IBEW’s brothers and sisters at Vermont Yankee in particular. For too long, too many Vermont elected officials have been hostile to business, to private jobs, and played games with the welfare of the employees at Vermont Yankee. What became of Vermont’s moto ‘ BUY LOCAL. We just helped sell our fellow brothers and sisters down the 'Connecticut River'.’
‘It is time that we come together as a state to both immediately help out those who will be impacted by the plant’s closing and to change state policy so Vermont shows it is not only open for business, but friendly toward business. God bless the employees and the surrounding community.’
Representative Peter Welch:
‘My thoughts are with the employees of Vermont Yankee. This dedicated workforce has always been steadfast in their professionalism and commitment to the operation of the plant.
‘The Nuclear Regulatory Commission must now take a vigilant role in ensuring that the plant is safely decommissioned and the site returned to usable status as quickly as possible. This closure provides a potential opportunity as we look for ways to advance Vermont’s energy future and to find new jobs for Vermont Yankee employees. I will work closely with the Governor and the state’s delegation to ensure the safe and swift dismantling of the plant and secure the economic vitality of the Windham County region.’
Vermont Businesses for Social Responsibility:
"VBSR has long believed there are viable alternatives to Vermont Yankee, a facility that poses numerous environmental, safety, and financial risks for Vermont electricity users.  The operation of an aging and troubled nuclear power plant in our borders undermines Vermont’s reputation as a clean and green state. 
"With today’s announcement, it is clear that Vermont should continue on its path to modernize our grid to facilitate distributed energy sources and stimulate the creation of affordable, clean, and local power from our farms and forests, our rivers, our sun and wind. 
"We also recognize that this will be a difficult transition for the employees at Vermont Yankee and the communities surrounding the facility. VBSR hopes there are opportunities for ENVY workers to participate in the shutdown and decommissioning of the plant and that state officials are prepared to assist in job placement, training and other support for those displaced by today’s decision."
Speaker of the House Shap Smith:
"Entergy’s announcement this morning that it will close and decommission Vermont Yankee in 2014 comes after several years of speculation about the long term sustainability of the plant. This closure is part of a broader national trend in which the economic viability of nuclear power is uncertain, as the country looks to develop an affordable and sustainable energy profile for the future.
"In the coming months and years, the legislature will work with the Administration, Windham County leaders and others to assist employees of the plant and the surrounding communities during this transition period.  Entergy repeatedly has assured Vermonters that it will decommission the plant in a safe and environmentally sound way. I will work to ensure that this commitment is fully met."
Lieutenant Governor Phil Scott:
"Today's announcement from Entergy Nuclear that they plan to close the Vermont Yankee nuclear plant in 2014 is a devastating blow to the plant's 600-plus employees, their families and the Windham County economy.
"High-paying jobs are few and far between in Vermont; we now run the risk of seeing many highly skilled employees who work at Vermont Yankee leave our state. Job loss numbers as high as predicted in this situation are not anything a region can plan for.
"The contribution Vermont Yankee employees, contractors and the plant itself make to the local economy cannot be understated; in that light, we must commit ourselves to helping Windham County fill what soon could be a gaping economic hole. I plan to work closely with the legislature and Administration to develop a strategy to help those displaced employees find work as well as producing an economic development plan for Windham County.
"Vermont leaders must learn from this: It is more important than ever that we dedicate ourselves to finding ways to grow our economy, keep existing high-paying jobs in our state and also attract new ones, thus creating the foundation for a bright future for Vermonters."
Guy Page, communications director for the Vermont Energy Partnership:
‘The announcement today by Entergy of the planned shutdown of Vermont Yankee next year comes as a surprise considering the legal success through the federal circuit court decision last week.
‘Over the years, we have had the opportunity to get to know many of the hard-working, skilled professionals of Vermont Yankee and have witnessed their dedication to ensuring the extremely safe operation of Vermont Yankee. We have every confidence they will continue to operate the plant at the utmost levels of safety.
‘The Vermont Energy Partnership intends to study the impact of this decision on Vermont’s energy future and New England’s demand for clean, baseload electricity. As always, VTEP remains committed to a future of clean, safe, affordable and reliable power. Vermont Yankee has been a valuable contributor to that policy goal, as well as supporting Windham County’s economy through hundreds of good paying jobs and millions in state and local revenue."
Brian Shupe, Executive Director, VNRC:
‘Today’s announcement that Entergy will close and clean up the Vermont Yankee nuclear plant is good news for Vermont and its energy future. We hope and expect the state can help those workers displaced by this closure find new work. In the meantime, we must turn our attention to decommissioning to be sure its done properly, that Vermont taxpayers don’t foot the bill and that VY restores the land so that future generations can use and enjoy it.’ ­
Commenting on the future of nuclear power, Entergy's Denault said: "Entergy remains committed to nuclear as an important long-term component of its generating portfolio. Nuclear energy is safe, reliable, carbon-free and contributes to supply diversity and energy security as part of a balanced energy portfolio."
Financial Implications
Entergy plans to recognize an after-tax impairment charge of approximately $181 million in the third quarter of 2013 related to the decision to shut down the plant at the end of this current operating cycle. In addition to this initial charge, Entergy expects to recognize charges totaling approximately $55 to $60 million associated with future severance and employee retention costs through the end of next year. These charges will be classified as special items, and therefore, excluded from operational results.
The company noted that the estimated operational earnings contribution from Vermont Yankee was expected to be around breakeven in 2013, and generally declining over the next few years. As a result of this decision and based on continuing operations into fourth quarter 2014, the estimated operational earnings change, excluding these special items, is expected to be modestly accretive within two years after shutdown, and cash flow is expected to increase approximately $150 to $200 million in total through 2017, compared to Vermont Yankee's continued operation.
Regarding decommissioning, assuming end of operations in fourth quarter 2014, the amount required to meet the NRC minimum for decommissioning financial assurance for license termination is $566 million. The Vermont Yankee decommissioning trust had a balance of approximately $582 million as of July 31, 2013, excluding the $40 million guarantee by Entergy Corporation to satisfy NRC requirements following the 2009 review of financial assurance levels. Filings with the NRC for planned shutdown activities will determine whether any other financial assurance may be required and will specifically address funding for spent fuel management, which will be required until the federal government takes possession of the fuel and removes it from the site, per its current obligations.
Vermont Yankee, a single unit boiling water reactor, began commercial operation in 1972. Entergy acquired the plant from Vermont Yankee Nuclear Power Corporation in 2002. In March 2011, the NRC renewed the station's operating license for an additional 20 years, until 2032.
Additional information regarding today's announcement is available in the Frequently Asked Questions section of www.entergy.com. The FAQ is also reprinted below.
Entergy Corporation, which celebrates its 100th birthday this year, is an integrated energy company engaged primarily in electric power production and retail distribution operations. Entergy owns and operates power plants with approximately 30,000 megawatts of electric generating capacity, including more than 10,000 megawatts of nuclear power, making it one of the nation's leading nuclear generators. Entergy delivers electricity to 2.8 million utility customers in Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi and Texas.
Additional information can be accessed online at www.entergy.com.
SOURCE NEW ORLEANS, Aug. 27, 2013 /PRNewswire via COMTEX/ -- Entergy Corporation
Frequently Asked Questions
When will Vermont Yankee close?
The company anticipates shutting down the Vermont Yankee Nuclear Power Station in fourth quarter 2014, with the exact date still to be determined.
Why was this decision made?
Vermont Yankee has an immensely talented, dedicated, and loyal workforce (about 630 employees) and a solid base of support in the community. We recognize that closing the plant on this schedule was certainly not the outcome they had hoped for, but we have reluctantly concluded that it is the appropriate action for us to take under the circumstances.
The decision to close Vermont Yankee in 2014 was based on a number of financial factors, including:

A natural gas market that has undergone a transformational shift in supply due to the impacts of shale gas, resulting in sustained low natural gas prices and wholesale energy prices.
A high cost structure for this single unit plant. Since 2002, the company has invested more than $400 million in the safe and reliable operation of the plant. In addition, the financial impact of cumulative regulation is especially challenging to a small plant in these market conditions.
Wholesale market design flaws that continue to result in artificially low energy and capacity prices in the region, and do not provide adequate compensation to merchant nuclear plants for the fuel diversity benefits they provide.

Couldn't Vermont Yankee be sold to another company?
We are constantly evaluating our portfolio of assets and businesses to determine if it makes sense to hold and optimize, to sell, or to shut down. As a matter of policy, we cannot comment on any specific efforts, however, we did consider all options before making this decision. Closing the plant on this schedule was certainly not the option we hoped for, but we have reluctantly concluded that it is the appropriate action for us to take under the circumstances.
What will happen to employees?
We expect to continue operations with current staffing levels through to shut down, at which time we will transition into decommissioning. Staffing levels will change and be reduced as the plant moves through the various stages of decommissioning. The company will treat employees at the station fairly and assist them through this transition.
Beyond the financial aspect, what's the reasoning behind closing the plant?
We looked at the impact of this decision through the lenses of all our stakeholders, and while extremely tough for many, we believe the decision was ultimately the right one:

Owners -- It is consistent with our disciplined approach of constantly evaluating our portfolio of assets and businesses to determine if it makes sense to hold and optimize, to sell, or to shut down. This shutdown decision was made because this asset is not financially viable.
Employees -- It provides employees the best opportunity to properly plan their future, whether at the plant, other Entergy-owned facilities or in the broader industry. We will treat our employees fairly throughout this entire process.
Customers -- It provides more certainty to our wholesale customers and to the broader markets in which we participate.
Communities -- It allows us to move forward and constructively engage with the impacted communities as we transition from an operating nuclear facility into and through the decommissioning process. We will continue to be a key part of the communities in which we do business as that moves forward.  

What has to be done to decommission a nuclear plant?
The decommissioning process is clearly defined by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission in Title 10 of the Code of Federal Regulations, Section 50.2 (10 CFR 50.2). The initial activities involve extensive planning to safely and efficiently decommission the station and terminate the station license. Activities include removing the plant from service, transferring used fuel to safe storage, removing any residual radioactivity and restoring the site which includes the removal of structures and, if appropriate, re-grading and reseeding the land.   
How can we be assured that decommissioning will be handled properly?
The safety of our operations will continue to be a top priority. In addition, the NRC will provide oversight during the decommissioning process.
How long will the entire decommissioning process take?
The complete decommissioning process is likely to take decades. We plan to follow the NRC-approved SAFSTOR methodology of decommissioning, where the facility is maintained and monitored in a safe condition and the decontamination and dismantling of the station occurs later. There are a number of advantages to SAFSTOR methodology, including lower potential radiation exposure for workers doing the decommissioning work and the need for fewer shipments of radioactive material to the low-level waste site.
Entergy expects to decommission using the SAFSTOR method. What is SAFSTOR?
SAFSTOR places and maintains a nuclear facility in a condition that allows it to be safely stored until the removal of radioactive materials and components, eventually permitting unrestricted use of the area. During SAFSTOR, the facility is left intact, with structures maintained in a sound condition. Systems that are not required to support the spent fuel pool or site surveillance and security are drained, de-energized and secured.
What will happen to the Vermont Yankee site after decommissioning?
Once Vermont Yankee's license has been terminated and the NRC has released the site for unrestricted use, the area can be used in any way permissible by federal, state and local laws. Entergy retains ownership of the property on which Vermont Yankee operates. Entergy has committed eventually to restoring the site by removing structures and, if appropriate, re-grading and reseeding the land.
What happens to the used fuel?
The used fuel will remain secured on site, under guard, monitored during shutdown and decommissioning activities, and subject to the NRC's oversight. Removal of the fuel from the reactor vessel to the spent fuel pool is expected to begin as soon as the reactor has cooled sufficiently, in a matter of days after shutdown. This is similar to what happens in a refueling outage. From the spent fuel pool, fuel will be moved to NRC-licensed casks. The fuel will remain onsite in dry casks until it is removed by the federal government in accordance with its legal obligations.
How many U.S. nuclear power stations/units have been decommissioned?
Since 1960, more than 70 test, demonstration and power reactors have been retired throughout the United States.
Vermont Yankee contributes about $435,000 annually to the community through open grants, site sponsorships, annual events and other charitable giving. What will happen to that support?
We will continue to be a good corporate citizen. We recognize that this is a significant event for the local economy and for surrounding communities. We will have future discussions to talk about transition plans, as it is too soon to know the specifics.
How can the public be assured of radiological safety during the decommissioning process?
The environmental monitoring program in place now will continue after the plant is shut down. The program will be modified to monitor the types of releases that may occur during decommissioning. Again, the NRC will provide oversight during the decommissioning process.
Will the closing cause electric reliability supply issues in the state or elsewhere in the region?
ISO New England will conduct a grid reliability review before Vermont Yankee's closure. 
What about other Entergy plants in the region?
Each of our merchant plants has unique characteristics, some operating in different market environments, some of which are more favorable than others.
For example, Vermont Yankee and Indian Point are on two opposite ends of the spectrum. Vermont Yankee is a small, single-unit plant in a very challenging economic market. Indian Point is a large, two-unit station in a more favorable market. Indian Point continues to be a vital component of the region's power supply and we are committed to its continued and safe operation.  
Regarding FitzPatrick, while in a difficult market environment, we currently expect to refuel in the fall of 2014.  
While Palisades' market environment is certainly difficult, it has a power purchase agreement.
Although Pilgrim's market environment is the same as Vermont Yankee's, Pilgrim's higher power output provides greater economies of scale.
Does Entergy have the required decommissioning funds in place?
Regarding decommissioning, assuming end of operations in fourth quarter 2014, the amount required to meet the NRC minimum for decommissioning financial assurance for license termination is $566 million. The Vermont Yankee decommissioning trust had a balance of approximately $582 million as of July 31, 2013, excluding the $40 million guarantee by Entergy Corporation to satisfy NRC requirements following the 2009 review of financial assurance levels. Filings with the NRC for planned shutdown activities will determine whether any other financial assurance may be required and will specifically address funding for spent fuel management, which will be required until the federal government takes possession of the fuel and removes it from the site, per its current obligations.
How does Vermont Yankee's closing change Entergy's viewpoint on nuclear energy?
Entergy remains committed to nuclear as an important long-term component of its generating portfolio, and for meeting the nation's energy needs. Nuclear energy's benefits are numerous and important. Nuclear provides reliable and cost-effective power over the long term, it contributes to supply diversity and energy security as part of a balanced portfolio, and it provides almost two-thirds of America's clean-air electricity. Nuclear is an important part of Entergy's portfolio.
Tell me more about Vermont Yankee. How many employees are there? What type of reactor does the plant have?
Vermont Yankee is a boiling water reactor manufactured by General Electric. The plant uses the Connecticut River as a cooling source, with once-through cooling towers. It began commercial operation on Nov. 30, 1972, and it is currently licensed to operate through 2032. It has a maximum dependable capacity of 605 megawatts and employs approximately 630 people.
Where can I get more information on decommissioning nuclear plants?
The NRC maintains frequently asked questions on nuclear plant decommissioning at this site: http://www.nrc.gov/about-nrc/regulatory/decommissioning/faq.html