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11/20/2013 2:00:00 PM
Maine Yankee Receives its Second Win Against the Federal Government
By Charlotte Boynton

A Federal U.S. Court Judge has awarded Maine Yankee Atomic Power Company, Connecticut Yankee Atomic Plant and the Massachusetts Yankee Atomic Electrical Company, $235.4 million in damages, according to a press release from the three Yankee nuclear plants.

The damages were awarded to the three companies because of the government's failure to meet its obligation of removing the spent fuel and Greater than Class C waste from the three sites by January 1998.

Earlier this year, the federal government reimbursed the three companies $160 million in damages for costs incurred from 1998 through 2001. The Phase II award received on Nov. 14, is for the cost incurred from Jan. 1, 2002 through Dec. 31, 2008. According to the press release, the three decommissioned nuclear plants have recently filed a third round of damages claim in the U.S. Court of Federal Claims for years 2009-2012.

In the Phase I damage award Wiscasset's Maine Yankee plant received $81.7 million of the $160 million. That money was put into a trust fund while the company filed a plan with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission on how the funds would be distributed to benefit the ratepayers.

According to Eric Howes, in May each of the three Yankee Companies made a filing with FERC detailing its approach for applying the proceeds from the Phase I Department of Energy litigation and future damage awards to benefit the ratepayers. The filings were supported by the regulatory oversight entities in Maine, Massachusetts, and Connecticut.

On June 27, FERC approved the filings effective July 1, and the proceeds have been applied in accordance with the FERC order.

In accordance with the order, over the next three years (2013, 2014, and 2015) Maine Yankee will return approximately $74 million of the $81.7 million Phase I DOE litigation proceeds to its nine owner companies. Each owner company has their own regulatory requirements for how the Maine Yankee Phase I DOE litigation proceeds will be applied.

Also in accordance with the order, the remaining $7.7 million was retained by Maine Yankee to assure adequate funding for the Independent Spent Fuel Storage Installation (ISFSI) in Wiscasset.

When the proceeds from the Phase II decision are received by Maine Yankee, as required by the FERC order, a review will determine how much of the proceeds can be returned to the owner companies and how much will be retained by Maine Yankee to assure adequate funding for the Independent Spent Fuel Storage Installation.

The three Maine companies that have ownership in Maine Yankee include: Central Maine Power Company with 38 percent; Bangor Hydro, 7 percent; and Maine Public Services, 5 percent.

In June, the Maine Legislature approved LD 1559, a law to reduce energy cost and increase energy efficiently, which laid out a plan for how the settlement funds from the federal government would be returned to ratepayers.

The law requires 55 percent of any settlement funds received by Maine Yankee go to the Efficiency Maine Trust to be used by the trust for electricity efficiency and conservation programs. The remaining 45 percent of the settlement funds are to be used to reduce the transmission and distribution utility's rates in a manner that provides maximum benefit to the economy of the state of Maine.

During a phone interview Nov. 18, Maine Public Utilities Commission Administrative Director Harry Lanphear said the commission will determine, within the next few months, how the 45 percent of the Phase I funds will be distributed to benefit the economy of the state.

As to the Phase II funds, the Department of Energy has 60 days from Nov. 18 to either sign off on the decision of the U.S. Court of the Federal Claims or appeal the decision, according to Lanphear.

In the Phase II damage award of $235.4 million, Maine Yankee will receive $35.7 million, Connecticut Yankee will receive $126.3 million, and Massachusetts Yankee Atomic Plant will receive $73.3 million.

The litigation between the three companies and the DOE has to be conducted in phases, because the U.S. Federal Appeals Court ruled the companies cannot receive damages for costs that have not been incurred.

"We are very pleased to have been awarded an additional $235.4 million in costs resulting from the Department of Energy's failure to honor its contractual obligations to begin removing spent fuel and the three sites beginning in 1998." said Wayne Norton, president of Connecticut Yankee, Yankee Atomic, and Chief Nuclear Officer of Maine Yankee, in the press release.

"While recovering the Phase I monetary damages from the federal government and the decision in these Phase II cases is positive for the ratepayers, they do not result in spent nuclear fuel and Greater than Class C waste being removed from our sites," Norton said, adding later. "The three companies will continue to work closely with our stakeholders to hasten the day when the federal government fulfills its obligation to remove the spent nuclear fuel and Greater than Class C waste from our sites so that they can be reused for other purposes and the cost burden on ratepayers is lifted."

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