Entergy Corp. has agreed to sell the now-closed Entergy Nuclear Vermont Yankee power plant and transfer its U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) licenses to subsidiaries of NorthStar Group Services Inc. The move will accelerate the planned decommissioning of the plant by decades, Entergy said Tuesday.

Entergy also said it plans to accelerate the transfer of all spent nuclear fuel to dry cask storage at the Vermont Yankee Nuclear Power Station, from 2020 to 2018. Sale of the plant is subject to closing conditions as well as approval by the NRC and is expected by the end of 2018.

“By accelerating decommissioning, we are fulfilling a commitment we made in 2013 to decommission Vermont Yankee as soon as reasonably possible [see Daily GPI, Aug. 28, 2013],” said Bill Mohl, president of Entergy Wholesale Commodities. “Decommissioning and site restoration, drawing on NorthStar’s expertise, will provide economic development for the region.”

Vermont Yankee ceased operation at the end of 2014 (see Daily GPI, Aug. 11, 2015). According to the Institute for Energy Research (IER), which cited data from ISO New England, this led to an increase in the use of natural gas for power generation in the region. “In 2015, natural gas supplied 48.6% of New England’s electricity demand, while in 2014, it supplied 43.1%,” IER said. “In other words, natural gas supplied 5.5%more of New England’s electrical demand after Vermont Yankee was closed, while nuclear power supplied 4.5% less.”

Entergy had previously expected to initiate decontamination and dismantlement of Vermont Yankee in 2068, with projected completion of both decommissioning and site restoration by 2075.

Under the agreement with Entergy, NorthStar has committed to initiate decontamination and dismantlement by 2021 and to complete decommissioning and restoration of the Vermont Yankee site [with the exception of the independent spent fuel storage installation (ISFSI)], by 2030. Thereafter, NorthStar will continue to operate and maintain the ISFSI until the U.S. Department of Energy fulfills its statutory and contractual obligations to remove all of the spent nuclear fuel from Vermont Yankee. NorthStar will then decommission the ISFSI, terminate the NRC license and complete site restoration.

New York-based NorthStar is in the business of dismantling and remediation. It is partnering, through a subsidiary, with AREVA, Waste Control Specialists and Burns & McDonnell to perform specialized services drawing on each company’s expertise.