No injunction for Entergy in dispute with Vermont

Bryan Cohen Jul. 19, 2011, 2:27pm

MONTPELIER, Vt. (Legal Newsline) - Vermont Attorney General William Sorrell announced a ruling on Monday denying Entergy's request for a preliminary injunction that would have prevented the state from enforcing its laws during pending litigation.

"(The decision is) a very good first step in an important case," Sorrell said. "We will continue to defend the constitutionality of Vermont's laws regulating Vermont Yankee and will be working hard to prepare for the critical merits stage of this litigation."

Entergy filed a complaint in federal district court on April 18 against Sorrell, Governor Peter Shumlin and members of the Vermont Public Service Board, seeking a ruling that federal law preempts Vermont laws and regulations regarding the operation of the Vermont Yankee nuclear power plant beyond March 21, 2012. Days later, Entergy filed a motion for a preliminary injunction to enjoin Vermont from enforcing its laws during the pendency of the case.

The court agreed with the state, rejecting Entergy's argument that it would suffer irreparable harm during the pendency of the litigation.

"Where the preliminary injunctive relief-which would be of very limited duration in this case-does not operate to enjoin any acts before trial, and cannot redress or ameliorate any harm, it serves only as a preview of the court's views of the merits and is unwarranted," the court wrote.

Entergy Nuclear Vermont Yankee LLC bought Vermont Yankee in 2002. According to a 68 page memorandum the state filed in May, the company knew the plant was scheduled to close in 2012. The company recently won a 20-year extension on its license from the federal Nuclear Regulatory Commission, though the legislature has not yet allowed the Public Service Board to consider issuing a certificate of public good. All power plants in Vermont must have such a certificate to generate electricity in Vermont.

"Entergy's lawsuit is an attack on state authority, attempting to deny us a voice regarding whether Vermont Yankee will run past March 2012 - even though Entergy has known since 2002 that it could not operate the plant past that date without state approval," Shumlin said. "I believe strongly in the state's authority, and I believe that Entergy has not been an honest, fair and responsible player for Vermont."

Entergy is an integrated energy company engaged primarily in electric power production and retail distribution operations. The company owns and operates power plants with approximately 30,000 megawatts of electric generating capacity. It is the second largest nuclear generator in the United States.

The case is scheduled for trial on the merits stage of the litigation on September 12.

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