ALBANY, N.Y. (Legal Newsline) - A pair of administrative law judges in New York have told power provider Entergy that information it gave to New York Attorney General Andrew Cuomo regarding its nuclear plans can be released to the public.
The company plans to give control of the Indian Point power plants to a spin-off company, Enexus Energy Corp., and begrudgingly complied with Cuomo's request for information. He wanted to see every decommissioning cost study or decommissioning cost estimate that Entergy or any of its subsidiaries has or has caused to be created.
Though it handed over the documents, Entergy said that the decommissioning of power plants is an area controlled by the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission, that Cuomo's request was overbroad and burdensome and that the information was highly sensitive and confidential.
"Petitioners argue that if projected financial information about Enexus were in the public domain, the underwriters of the senior notes the company intends to issue probably would be unwilling to proceed with the offering," the Public Service Commission says.
"The reasons why there might be a direct link between the public release of the decommissioning cost studies and the refusal of bond underwriters to support Enexus' debt issuance are not obvious.
"Petitioners have provided no factual information that would enable us to make the connection, and none is apparent to us."
Ruling were judges Gerald Lynch and David Prestemon. Cuomo praised the decision Monday.
"The public will no longer be in the dark about the extent and eventual cost of cleaning up the Indian Point nuclear power plant site," Cuomo said.
"The judges appropriately rejected Entergy's attempts to conceal its own reports about the associated costs, calling the basis for keeping these documents secret 'far-fetched.'"
Mississippi Attorney General Jim Hood has also criticized Entergy for being too secretive. However, the company has filed suit against him in federal court because it feels Hood's civil investigative demands are nothing more than "a fishing expedition."
Cuomo has spoken out against the relicensing of the Indian Point plants. He is fearful of the damage the plants, located near New York City, could inflict should an earthquake hit the eastern U.S. or should a terrorist target them.
Some worry that Enexus will be unable to afford the costs associated with cleaning the reactors once Entergy transfers ownership. Entergy provides power to 2.7 million customers in six southern states and also owns the Fitzpatrick Nuclear Power Plant in New York's Oswego County.
"I strongly oppose efforts to spin-off Indian Point to a financially unstable holding company and my office will continue to vigorously fight against the re-licensing of Indian Point," Cuomo said.
Cuomo has also criticized the company for planning to break a contract with the New York Power Authority. He said the spin-off would have terminated a $432 million agreement Entergy has with the state.
In August, Entergy said it would not break the contract.
The company has seven days to appeal the confidentiality ruling. The documents will become public 15 days after a final decision, provided Entergy is unsuccessful in its argument.
From Legal Newsline: Reach John O'Brien by e-mail at email@example.com.