Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Troubling End of Year Thoughts

Dear God,

If you read "the newspapers," as Sarah Palin does nearly every day, no doubt you have learned that the United States intelligence community was warned well before Christmas that "a Nigerian" was preparing for a terrorist attack. But the intelligence community did not act on the information received. The result of someone's (or a few people's) decision to "bury" the reported danger was almost catastrophic, and apparently there will be hell to pay when President O'Bama lives up to his promise to hold people accountable.

Perhaps there is a parallel to be drawn between that example of woefully poor decision making and a decision that must be made here in Vermont in 2010.

Entergy Corp. has recently announced that it plans to ask Entergy Louisiana customers to cover a $45 million shortfall in the fund that will pay for the eventual shutdown of the Waterford 3 nuclear plant in Taft, Louisiana.

Vermont Yankee's decommissioning fund has an even bigger shortfall than that of Waterford 3. What do you think, Lord?

  1. When the Vermont legislature assesses the potential economic impact on Vermonters of renewing Vermont Yankee's license in 2012, will they take into account this intelligence about Entergy sticking Louisiana ratepayers with a bill they never anticipated having to pay?
  2. How could anyone imagine that the economic benefit to Vermonters of renewing Vermont Yankee's license could outweigh the economic liability, given that the shortfall in Vermont Yankee's decommissioning fund is not $45 million but nearly half of a billion?
  3. Will there be "hell to pay" for Vermont legislators who turn a blind eye to what is happening right now in Louisiana?

Your speedy answer will be much appreciated, God, by me and by our legislators. And, if you wouldn't mind, could you be speediest about answering question #2? The "how could anyone imagine" part is my biggest concern. It's going to be my job as PR guy to get our legislators to imagine precisely along those lines.

Amen, Lord, and I hope you're keeping warm this week.


Monday, December 21, 2009

There Ain't No Sanity Claus

Dear God,

Friday we made the state of Vermont a gentleman's offer. We will raise the price of electricity from 4.2 cents per kilowatt-hour to 6.1 cents. Over the next 20-year period we will raise that price annually by a specified index. That price is well below what consultants on our payroll have projected as the future of energy prices. That price is also above the current price of power. We will discontinue sharing revenue with Vermont utilities. Over the past forty years, revenue sharing has allowed the utilities to provide very inexpensive power to Vermont homes and businesses, but to everything there is a season, turn, turn, turn. The price we have offered will only apply to 115 megawatts per year. The offer we've made makes no mention of the nearly half a billion dollar shortfall in the decommissioning fund. And the offer we've made wasn't even made by us. It was made by Enexus, the finances and structure of which are "mired in gobbledygook."

We ask only that the state of Vermont approve the spinoff of Vermont Yankee into Enexus, and that it offer Enexus a 20-year license renewal for Vermont Yankee, thereby allowing the health, safety, environmental, and financial shenanigans will continue.

To sweeten the deal, we will even remove the horse's head from Pete Shumlin's bed.

You tell me, God. How do you think the legislators will respond?



Tuesday, December 1, 2009

These Are a Few of My Awful-est Things

Dear God,

Tee-hee. I ate A LOT of turkey on Thursday, and the tryptophan has yet to wear off. So I've had some difficulties writing coherently about some of the recent goings-on in the nuclear industry.

And so, as I often have when pressed with the need to feed the public's appetite for reliable facts that they can assess, I will instead present you and, of course, the public with a distraction. Here's this week's amusement. Let's call it ...

a/k/a Raindrops on Roses and Whiskers on Kittens

1. On November 27, 2009, what awful thing happened in the pants of a security officer at the Davis-Besse Nuclear Power Plant in Ohio?

(A) Someone put a banana in them.

(B) His Huggies® leaked. (Hey, it happened to me once.)

(C) On November 27, 2009, at approximately 0734 hours, an accidental discharge of a security officer's sidearm occurred at the Davis-Besse Nuclear Power Station (DBNPS) resulting in a leg injury to the officer. The accidental discharge occurred in the Primary Access Facility. The onsite DBNPS first aid team and the Caroll Township Emergency Medical Services responded to the Primary Access Facility. The injured officer was in stable condition and transported off site [at 0800] to St. Vincent Hospital [in Toledo, OH].

"Both the Ottawa County Sheriffs Office and the Caroll Township Police Department responded to the DBNPS site to obtain information.

"The Ottawa County Emergency Management Agency (EMA), the Lucas County EMA, and the Ohio EMA were notified of this incident. The NRC Resident Inspector has been notified.

"Plant operation was not affected by this incident. [The plant has received calls from the media however,] no press release is planned at this time."

2. What awful thing happened in—oh, say—India recently?

(A) Tritium, a heavy radioactive substance, was found in the drinking water of a nuclear reactor building in Kamataka. Sixty-five workers drank the water. The incident only came to light when their urine samples were tested.

(B) Union Carbide offered to build another pesticide plant.

3. What awful thing happened in Canada this week?

(A) General Electric attempted to shield its finances from the risks of accident at nuclear plants. The Globe and Mail says:

"One of the world's largest nuclear plant suppliers has ordered its Canadian division to hermetically seal itself off from its U.S. parent, going so far as to forbid engineers at the U.S. wing from having anything to do with Canadian reactors.

"The move by GE Hitachi Nuclear Energy is spurred by concerns about liability – if an accident at a Canadian plant spreads damage across the border, Americans might be able to sue the parent company. The result is a Canadian company cut off from the technical advances of its parent, a leading player in the industry.

"The company also won't allow any equipment built or designed by the U.S. parent to be used in Canadian reactors for the same reason."

(B) Entergy attempted to shield its finances from the risks of accident at nuclear plants. (Technically, this didn't happen in Canada. But Vermont is close enough to Canada to meet NRC specs.)

4. What awful thing happened in Vermont this month?

(A) All of the Democrats running for governor said they would like to see Vermont Yankee shut down when its license expires in 2012.

(B) There's nothing that can top that.

Answers: Follow the links to get 'em.