MONTPELIER, Vt. — Vermont state regulators have approved the sale of Entergy Corp.'s closed Vermont Yankee nuclear power plant to a demolition company.

Vermont Yankee closed in 2014 after operating for 42 years.

The Vermont Public Utility Commission issued a written statement Thursday saying the primary benefit of the sale to NorthStar is the company plans to start decommissioning the plant no later than 2021, decades sooner than Entergy planned. Entergy had planned to decommission the plant by 2075.

The sale price was not disclosed. Entergy has said the decommissioning enables the company to reduce its merchant power holdings. Entergy, like a number of other utilities, moved into the unregulated merchant power business to take advantage of the increased demand for electricity and soaring rates. But record low natural gas prices have slashed power prices.

"We are satisfied that approving the transfer and moving forward with the accelerated cleanup schedule for the Vermont Yankee site is in the best interests of the people of Vernon and the state of Vermont," said PUC Commissioner Margaret Cheney.

NorthStar CEO Scott State told Vermont Public Radio that the timetable for decommissioning was a big factor in winning regulatory approval.

"I think we brought the certainty of decommissioning and obviously we accelerated the schedule some decades," he said.

An attorney with the Conservation Law Foundation criticized the deal.

"We are disappointed that Vermont communities will be saddled with a risky transfer of the contaminated Vermont Yankee site," said Sandra Levine. "The transfer of the site fails to provide common sense protections for local families and businesses, and it will leave Vermonters on the hook if something goes wrong."