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Lawmakers vote to close Entergy plant

MONTPELIER, Vt. — The Vermont Senate voted yesterday to block the state’s only nuclear plant, which is operated by Entergy Corp., from operating after its license expires in 2012.

This is at least a temporary setback for nuclear power only a week after President Barack Obama announced loan guarantees for building two reactors in the State of Georgia.

Vermont is the only U.S. state with a law giving its Legislature a say over a nuclear plant’s relicensing. The Senate’s 26-4 vote against a 20-year extension of Vermont Yankee’s license marks the first time lawmakers have formally weighed in on the question.

With the Vernon reactor leaking radioactive tritium into groundwater and its owners accused of misleading state regulators about underground piping at the plant, even senators who might have supported the license extension said they would have a difficult time doing so now.

Vermont Yankee and Entergy, whose nuclear business is headquartered in Jackson, were defiant after Wednesday’s the vote.

“The effort to win a 20-year renewal of Vermont Yankee’s operating license is far from over,” company spokesman Larry Smith said in a statement. “We remain determined to prove our case to the Legislature, state officials and the Vermont public.”

Entergy’s shares fell 67 cents, or less than one percent, to close yesterday at $76.33.

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