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Entergy to refuel Pilgrim nuke in 2017, run it through May 2019

said it will refuelits Pilgrim nuclearplant in Plymouth, Mass., and continue operations until May 31, 2019.

Entergyannounced its decision April 14 for Pilgrim to continue generating power for theNew England market for another three years. The decision narrows the previouslyannounced retirement time frame of 2017-2019 after Entergy announced the planned shutdown in October 2015. Entergy blamedpoor market conditions, reduced revenue and increased operating costs in its decisionto retire Pilgrim, which has an operating capacity of 683.7 MW. Massachusetts Gov.Charlie Baker at the time lamented that the closure of Pilgrim will be a significantloss of carbon dioxide-free electricity and will make it more challenging for thestate to achieve its 2020 greenhouse gas emissions-reduction goals.

As aresult of the extension, Pilgrim will conduct a refueling outage in the spring 2017.Refueling outages of Pilgrim, which occur every other year, result in significanteconomic benefits for the region, Entergy claimed. The operator said it invested$70 million in the plant during its 2015 refueling outage, including $25 millionin new equipment.

Entergy'sannouncement does more than just provide certainty on the timing of Pilgrim's retirement,ISO New England Inc. spokeswomanMarcia Blomberg said. The certain date for Pilgrim's shutdown simplifies the processof planning for reliable system operations for the next three years and beyond,she said. It also confirms that Entergy will fulfill its obligation to provide capacityfor the northeast U.S. region through May 2019 as promised by the company's participationin the ISO's February 2015 forward capacity market auctions.

Entergysaid it will start preparing for the shutdown by forming a dedicated team to planfor the decommissioning of the nuclear plant. The team, which will consist of personnelwith experience at Pilgrim and with decommissioning, will develop a post-shutdownreport on planned decommissioning activities, the timeline and estimated costs ofthe decommissioning, and the environmental impacts of the process. That plan isdue for review before the Nuclear Regulatory Commission no later than two yearsafter the plant's shutdown.

In addition,Entergy said it will also create an advisory panel to engage and share informationwith the public on the decommissioning process.