Sunday, December 30, 2007


Dear God,

This is in today's Washington Post:
Mitt Romney says he "saw" his father "march" with Martin Luther King Jr. Rudolph W. Giuliani claims that he is one of the "five best-known Americans in the world." According to John McCain, the Constitution established the United States as a "Christian nation." Ron Paul believes that a "NAFTA superhighway" is being planned to link Mexico with Canada and undermine U.S. sovereignty.

On the other side of the political divide, Sen. Barack Obama says there are more young black males in prison than in college. Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton claims she has a "definitive timetable" for withdrawing U.S. troops from Iraq. John Edwards insists that NAFTA -- the North American Free Trade Agreement -- has cost Americans "millions of jobs." Sen. Joseph R. Biden Jr. boasts about his experience negotiating an arms-control treaty with Leonid Brezhnev.

All those claims, made over the past four months as part of the presidential campaign, are demonstrably false.

Dear Lord, I want to talk to you about duplicity. Lying, I know, is a sin. But is truth-shaping?

Psychologists know that we all lie with neither sin nor shame. Even the most honest among us shape the truth unconsciously. Psychologists call that "shaping" the creation of a narrative truth -- by which they mean the creation of a first-person story infused with feeling, emotion, and history and limited by those same factors. Narrative truth is the highly personal version of events that one believes to be historically true--but that is always at least a little bit a lie.

Which is to say that psychologists believe that we all lie, always. The trick to being honest is to keep an eye on the distortions and to be as forthcoming as possible about them.

Artists, according to this line of logic, lie because they are human. But, apparently, they also lie because they get to. It's called "artistic license." To whit, this is from today's New York Times. It's in a review of a new movie that incorporates straight documentary techniques with fictional techniques, blending the two seamlessly to subtly distort the story. In reply to a question about why he "does not give it to audiences straight," Alex Gibney, the filmmaker, said:

“It’s because I didn’t want to give it to you straight. I wanted to have some fun.”

Lord, I'm a PR guy, a spin artist in my own right, if you will, and I'm wanting to have some fun. I'm wanting this while I'm thinking about how to spin the SEC information someone who calls herself Laughingmama pasted into a comment to my "J. Wayne Leonard Lives Here" prayer. Hint: Look for occasions of the term "Cayman Islands."

Exhibit 21

The eight registrants, Entergy Corporation, System Energy Resources,
Inc., Entergy Arkansas, Inc., Entergy Gulf States, Inc., Entergy London
Investments plc, Entergy Louisiana, Inc., Entergy Mississippi, Inc., and
Entergy New Orleans, Inc., and their active subsidiaries, are listed below:

State or Other
Jurisdiction of

Entergy Corporation Delaware
System Energy Resources, Inc. (a) Arkansas
Entergy Arkansas, Inc. (a) Arkansas
Entergy Arkansas Capital I (b) Delaware
The Arklahoma Corporation (b) Arkansas
Entergy Gulf States, Inc. (a) Texas
Entergy Gulf States Capital I (c) Delaware
Varibus Corporation (c) Texas
GSG&T, Inc. (c) Texas
Southern Gulf Railway Company (c) Texas
Prudential Oil & Gas, Inc. (c) Texas
Entergy Louisiana, Inc. (a) Louisiana
Entergy Louisiana Capital I (d) Delaware
Entergy Mississippi, Inc. (a) Mississippi
Entergy New Orleans, Inc. (a) Louisiana
System Fuels, Inc. (e) Louisiana
Entergy Services, Inc. (a) Delaware
Entergy Power, Inc. (a) Delaware
Entergy Operations, Inc. (a) Delaware
Entergy Enterprises, Inc. (a) Louisiana
Entergy S.A. (a) Argentina
Entergy Power Development Corporation (a) Delaware
Entergy Integrated Solutions, Inc. Delaware
Entergy Pakistan, Ltd. Delaware
Entergy Power Asia, Ltd. Cayman Islands
Entergy International Holdings Ltd. LLC (a) Delaware
Entergy International Ltd. LLC Delaware
Entergy Global Power Operations Corporation (a) Delaware
Entergy Power Operations U.S., Inc. Delaware
Entergy Power Operations Corporation Delaware
EP Edegel, Inc. Delaware
Entergy Power CBA Holding Ltd. Bermuda
EPG Cayman Holding I Cayman Islands
EPG Cayman Holding II Cayman Islands
Entergy Victoria LDC Cayman Islands
Entergy Victoria Holding, LDC Cayman Islands
CitiPower Trust Australia
CitiPower Ltd. Australia
Entergy Power Edesur Holding Ltd. (a) Bermuda
Entergy Power Marketing Corp. (a) Delaware
Entergy Power Holding II, Ltd. Cayman Islands
Entergy Power Operations Holdings Ltd. Cayman Islands
Entergy Power Operations Pakistan LDC Cayman Islands
Entergy Nuclear, Inc. Delaware
Entergy Power Cayman Investments, Ltd. Cayman Islands
Entergy Power Peru S.A. Peru
Entergy do Brasil LTDA Brazil
Entergy Technology Holding Company (a) Delaware
Entergy Power International Holdings Delaware
Corporation (a)
Entergy Power Generation Corporation (a) Delaware
Entergy Power Saltend, Ltd. Cayman Islands
Entergy Power Chile, Inc. Delaware
Entergy London Limited England
Entergy London Investments plc England
London Electricity plc England

Now, Lord, before you get mad at Entergy for creating a narrative truth about being a good taxpayer while setting up off-shore holding companies that are typically used as vehicles to avoid taxes, let me remind you that offshore holding companies are perfectly legal.

Still, here's one thing Hillary Clinton had to say about them:

In 2004, Hillary Clinton, a New York senator, said she wanted to close the "loopholes" for "people who create a mailbox, or a drop, or send one person to sit on the beach in some island paradise and claim that it is their offshore headquarters."

Why does Entergy have Cayman Islands holdling companies if not to avoid paying taxes? I do know that Entergy has been complaining about taxes. I do know that Vermont Yankee took the town of Vernon to court when Vernon tried to assess the plant property at a value that reflected the 20% power boost.

Now, Lord, I'm sure to be asked sooner or later about the whole Cayman Islands thing. Help me out, here. Can I say this?

"That information is old. It's from a 1998 filing."

Well, the Laughingmama info is from a 1998 filing. Pointing that out will shut everyone up, right?

Um. Yes, sir. Newer information (current as of September 30, 2001, and it seems to be a slide presentation used internally by Entergy New Orleans) does show plenty of holding companies in the Cayman Islands.

Yes, sir. 2001 was a long time ago. No, sir. I'm not being lazy about finding a simple list from a later year. It seems that by 2005, anyway, the SEC forms were reconfigured and the lists of subsidiaries were put into Exhibits that aren't all that easy to locate on the web. Anyway, it's harder to get a straight list of Cayman Island holdings owned by Entergy as of their 2005 filing from SEC Info. But, at SEC Info, a search for the word "Cayman" in "Exhibit 1 to Entergy Corporation's Public Utility Holding Company Act of 1935 filing made in File No. 70-9123 on February 24, 2005" produces:

EGT Holding Ltd (Cayman)(100%)(a new subsidiary)
Entergy Global Trading Holdings, Ltd. (Cayman) (100%)(a new subsidiary)
Entergy Power BJE Holding Ltd. (Cayman)(100%)(a new subsidiary)
Entergy Power Operations Holdings Ltd. (Cayman) (90.9%)(a new subsidiary
EPG Cayman Holding I, and EPG Cayman Holding II
Entergy Power Damhead Creek Holding II, Ltd. (Cayman) (100%) (a new subsidiary)
Entergy Power Damhead Creek Holding III, Ltd. (Cayman) (100%)(a new subsidiary)
Entergy Power Damhead FinCo 1 (Cayman) (100%) (a new subsidiary)
Damhead Finance LDC (Cayman)(1%)(a new subsidiary)
EGT Holding LTD. (Cayman)(100%)(FUCO)
Entergy Power Hull Holding, Ltd. (Cayman)(100%)(a new
… and more.

Yes, sir. I am too lazy to type them all.

Lord, I am trying--very hard--to find the 2006 filing info on the web. I'll post an update if I do.

Anyway, it looks like I can't just wave off the Laughingmama info. So should I say:

"Like any best-and-brightest American corporation we are becoming un-American in good measure in order to be able to afford paying our brave CEO $15 million in a single year? And enrich our stockholders, as well?"

That would be the "accountant's truth" if I can coin so catchy a phrase (which I cannot because it was coined by Werner Herzog and actually cited in the New York Times film review to which I referred earlier). Or should I say:

"Go bugger yourself for making me do all this web research in the first place?"

That would be the "ecstatic truth." (That's another Werner Herzog term; it describes the pleasure the artist generates in himself and his audience by lying.)

Going for the ecstatic truth here would overjoy me. So can I? Without sinning?

One benefit: If I did say the bugger thing, and if whoever did the asking went ahead and buggered himself, it would create a new historical truth for the situation. And, honestly, that could even be art.



Wednesday, December 26, 2007

A Tale of Two Cesspools of Incompetence

Dear Lord,

This from The Journal News:
It turned out to be a simple oversight, but for a few moments on Friday evening Westchester County officials were concerned that something might be wrong at Indian Point.

About 6 p.m., the dedicated telephone system used to alert the state and local counties about problems at the nuclear plant - known as the Radiological Emergency Communication System, or RECS - sounded without warning.

It turned out to be an unscheduled test of the system that plant owner Entergy Nuclear Northeast conducted at the request of state emergency management officials, but they failed to notify local counties about.

Susan Tolchin, chief adviser to Westchester County Executive Andrew Spano, said county officials were quickly able to reach Entergy and confirm that nothing was wrong.

But the incident, she added, raises further doubts about Entergy's ability to safely operate the facility.

"We are more concerned about the incompetence," Tolchin said "They didn't know that when you make a RECS call, it goes to all these different places."

Together with New York's governor, Eliot Spitzer, New York's Attorney General Andrew Cuomo has filed legal arguments opposing Entergy's effort to gain new licenses for the reactors. Wow. New York now enjoys the status of being the first state ever to officially oppose nuclear plant license renewal.

Well, yes, the Indian Point people have displayed gross incompetence, so you can kind of imagine why Spitzer and Cuomo wouldn't want that plant around. But to be honest, with the cooling tower collapse and the shutdown 10 days later, Vermont Yankee has showed its own incompetence.

And I want it to stick around.

The difference between us (in Vermont) and them (in New York) is that our politicians don't present nearly as united a front against incompetence as theirs. Vermont's state senator Peter Shumlin has politely signaled his desire for more caution in the relicensing process, and so have Jeanette White and David Deen. So, even, has Patrick Leahy. But those are far cries from expressions of out-and-out opposition. Their voices are hardly dripping with disgust when they say the words "Vermont Yankee" or with certainty when they say the word, "Huh?" And our governor, unlike the New York governor, LOVES the idea of nuclear power.

Will Andrew Cuomo and Eliot Spitzer have their way in New York? I hope not. New York City and Westchester County need power that is "too cheap to meter"—even if it's not too cheap to meter. They need it even more than we here in Vermont do--for, as activist Claire Chang pointed out, Vermonters living in single family dwellings can easily and at almost no cost reduce their energy consumption so much so that they don't need the power Vermont Yankee generates.

But what if the New York politicians do get their way? What if Cuomo and Spitzer's opposition to Indian Point relicensing makes a difference?

Will Indian Point's license be allowed to expire?

And if so, will our lawmakers –our Shumlins and Whites and Deans – be emboldened? Will they ever stop being so amazingly polite? Will they get around to taking an actual stand?

I hope not. Because, from where I sit, incompetence is forgivable. Political fortitude is not.



Wackenhut and Wassail

Westward leading still proceeding guide us to that perfect light….

Lord, I had a good Christmas. What with the plum pudding, the caroling, the wassail, and the few days' relaxation, I believe I may be adequately refreshed to proceed ever westward (or "onward," as we moderns say) just like a wandering mage in what is, by anyone's estimation, this very tough job of mine. Yes, it beats walking at night with neither map nor GPS in a cold desert but it has its drawbacks. So please guide me, Lord, and keep anger from my voice. Help me sound vaguely amused at worst, and never mean or scared.

For there is a bullet I must dodge, Lord.

On December 14 Exelon Corp. announced that it will replace its Wackenhut Corp security force. On first "read" that doesn't sound significant to our situation at Vermont Yankee, but it is. Exelon Corp has 17 nuclear reactors at 10 nuclear power plants nationwide. Wackenhut Corp is the contract security firm protecting all of those plants. The reason for the contract non-renewal is this: About 3 months ago a few (actually, about 10 according to one press report) Wackenhut Corp security guards were caught napping on videotape all together while ostensibly on watch at the Peach Bottom nuclear power plant in south central Pennsylvania. The "catcher" was a Wackenhut guard who had previously complained to the NRC. The New York television station WCBS aired the tape. The NRC noticed.

The guard who recorded the videotape was disciplined.

Wackenhut Corp supplies the guards at Vermont Yankee, as well. We announced the arrangement to much fanfare in July of 2003, and I wish we hadn't. And so, Lord, I'm hoping that we, too, can get rid of Wackenhut-—kind of sweep them under the carpet so that the activists here don't focus on our association with a security force that has become a laughing stock of the industry.

That's the bullet.

And after all, Lord, it's not as though security at the plant is a big deal. Those guards only protect us from intruders and bombs smuggled in (or not) by employees. It's not as though Wackenhut can do anything about airplanes.

Amen, right?


J. Wayne Leonard Lives Here

Dear Lord,

Entergy’s CEO (J. Wayne Leonard) made just under $15 million in 2006. This post is here only because I wanted you to know that. Oh, right. It's also here because I'm assuming that people at Entergy have a Google Alert going for the name J. Wayne Leonard. Entergy hasn't visited my blog in the past few days. I miss them. I figured this post would make them feel like stopping by.

It especially might if I type his name here just a few more times. J. Wayne Leonard. J. Wayne Leonard. J. Wayne Leonard. J. Wayne Leonard. J. Wayne Leonard. J. Wayne Leonard. J. Wayne Leonard.



Thursday, December 20, 2007

Kind of Fun News Quiz

Mea culpa, Lord.

I haven't written in a while. I've been Christmas shopping.

Also, frankly, there wasn't a lot to write about.

But now there is! The Atomic Safety and Licensing Board has recommended that the NRC extend the operating license for the Oyster Creek nuclear power station in New Jersey for another 20 years—and this despite the fact that the NRC's own inspector general's office complained that more than 70 percent of the narrative passages on the Oyster Creek license renewal application lacked substance.

This bodes well for Vermont Yankee, because our application is probably every bit as generic as that of Oyster Creek. I was thinking all along that the ASLB would see that as a negative, but it looks like I was wrong.

Still, things may not go as easily for us at Entergy as they are going for the Oyster Creek folks at Exelon. That's because, in New Jersey, if the NRC accepts the recommendation of the ASLB it has final say. In Vermont, however, the state legislature takes up the task of approving any license extension granted by the NRC, which they've got to do so in public session after full and informed public discussion. I know there will be press coverage and contention, and I want all of us at Vermont Yankee to be prepared. I've devised a Fun News Quiz so that we PR guys can test ourselves on whether we have the facts at our fingertips.

Would you like to play, God?

Fun News Quiz

1. Choose One:
When VPIRG said that Vermont Yankee isn't paying its fare share of property taxes,

2. Choose One:
When the Reformer reported that Vermont Yankee is buying homes on Governor Hunt Road and demolishing them,
  • A. United States forces evacuated Saigon.
  • Tony Soprano rolled around on the floor, drunk, and moaned to Carmella, "But I didn't hurt nobody."
  • I said that Entergy knows it's good business to destroy things.

3. True or False:
After the cooling tower at Vermont Yankee spontaneously collapsed and activists raised aggressive questions about what the collapse implied about safety, I assured Vermonters that another tower wouldn't fall, as well, because the towers were built to withstand earthquakes.

4. Choose One:
When Vermont Yankee won conditional approval in March of 2006 to boost its power output by 20% despite the fact that experts seemed to agree that the uprate increased both the likelihood and potential consequences of an accident,
  • I said, "This is great news for us and it is also great news for the region's electrical energy supply."
  • President Bush said, "I promise you I will listen to what has been said here, even though I wasn't here."

5. True or False:
When in 2005 engineers found 40 fissures in a steam dryer that had been reinforced just the year before, I said, "None of them need to be repaired."

6. Choose One:
When the state environmental court ordered Vermont Yankee to stop releasing warmer water into the Connecticut River for fear that it was hurting the fish,
  • President Bush said, "I know the human being and fish can coexist peacefully."
  • I said, "I know the human being and fish can coexist peacefully."

7. True or False
When the Committee on Natural Resources and Energy approved a bill to charge Entergy $4 million annually in exchange for permission to store high-level waste on the banks of the Connecticut River, I threatened to take my football and go home.

Want to know how you did with your answers, Lord? Sorry. No one gets the straight scoop from me. Follow the links and check out your responses. It wouldn't hurt you to do a little work every now and then.

Are you even there, God? ARE YOU EVEN LISTENING?



Thursday, December 6, 2007

Gary Sachs Said a No-No about Doo-Doo

Dear God,

It was kind of a groom's side/bride's side thing at last night's Windham County forum on Vermont's Energy Future. The people from Vermont Yankee (and for Vermont Yankee) sat mostly on the left. The people opposed to Vermont Yankee sat mostly on the right.

And it's true about Gary Sachs and the no-no. First, a speaker who also happened to be an Entergy employee testified that all of the waste produced in more than 30 years by Vermont Yankee could fit in a small box. I know, Lord. One is not supposed to lie in public testimony. We've been through that lesson. But his testimony wasn't sworn. Then something really fun happened. Just a bit later and picking up on the "small box" theme, nuclear activist Gary Sachs suggested that everyone put his or her "personal waste" in a small box and send it to the Public Service Board--I suppose as an expression of disgust about the lack of solutions to the "What do we do with all of the nuclear waste now that Yucca Mountain isn't going to open?" problem. Gary did assure us all that the personal waste in our little private boxes wouldn't be radioactive. (Actually, he didn't. He said he hoped it wouldn't be radioactive, leaving unsaid the implication--which is that maybe for those of us living in Vermont Yankee's shadow, it is.) Gary even gave the address in Montpelier. My box of doo-doo is ready to mail to 112 State Street (Chittenden Bank Building), Drawer 20, Montpelier, VT 05620-2701

Oh, yeah. Then Gary used the word "crap," which, as I understand it, is a no-no for doo-doo. I may be mis-remembering but I think he used it as an expletive when he was pointing out that all of the Vermont Yankee employees who had said that VY is carbon neutral were not taking into account the amount of fossil fuels burned in mining uranium, building a concrete and steel plant, building concrete and steel storage, etc., etc. Gary said that nuclear plants require so much carbon expenditure that nuclear energy should be considered "fossil fuel derivative."

Claire Chang of the Citizens Awareness Network explained to the panel of senators that she'd dramatically reduced her household's energy consumption. Actually, she'd eliminated entirely her reliance on the electrical grid. I must admit that while she was speaking I got distracted noticing how all of the "suits" at Vermont Yankee had shown up in Carhardt jackets, as though they were trying to look like Vermonters, and that people on both the bride and groom's side of the aisle kept saying "utilise" rather than "use," as though senators like polysyllabic words more than regular ones. Anyway, I'm not sure whether any solar panels were involved in Claire's little energy experiment, but she did say that whatever she did didn't cost much or require much engineering know-how on her part; she'd just used materials available at any hardware store and figured out what to do with them. She suggested that everyone conserve energy. Thank heavens, she stopped just short of calling for a state-wide strike on grid-generated energy consumption to demonstrate how little we need Vermont Yankee's contribution to the power supply. She was awfully convincing. It wouldn't be difficult to imagine a run in the near future on hardware stores and a strike like the one that she didn't quite suggest.

Anyway, Lord, I realized when I checked the news this morning that I've passed up another good PR opportunity. Remember what I explained before about the importance of tying publicity to calendar dates? Well, today is Microwave Oven Day and I almost missed it. And you know what we say when we put our TV dinner in the microwave, right? Nuke it! And how about Vermont? Nuke it! How about the truth? Nuke it!

Thanks, Lord. Love,


Update: Gary Sachs says, "No! Not the Public Service Board for those boxes of personal waste! The Department of Public Service!" The address is almost the same. (The zip code is different.) 112 State St, Drawer 20, Montpelier VT, 05620-2601