Monday, May 31, 2010

Vernon New Hampshire?

A few days ago my friend Bob Hargraves wrote a letter suggesting that Vernon secede from Vermont and join New Hampshire. The letter was published in the Brattleboro reformer, and I quote it here:

Saturday May 29, 2010
Vernon could secede to N.H.

Editor of the Reformer:

The people of Vernon are being ostracized by misguided Vermonters who have turned public concern about global warming into an anti-Vermont Yankee theme. Vernon is home to many good people who work at Entergy’s nuclear power station there. The legislature’s current plan is to turn this power producing, tax revenue producing asset into a mothball in a ghost town.
New Hampshire’s Connecticut River waters border Vernon and lap at the edge of the Vermont Yankee nuclear power plant. New Hampshire waters cool the plant. New Hampshire is not seeking to shutter its nuclear plants such as Seabrook.

Vermont Yankee could be in New Hampshire if Vernon seceded from Vermont and joined New Hampshire. The Vermont Legislature would have no say in the relicensing of the New Hampshire plant. Vermont Yankee could continue to provide tax revenues and jobs to Vernon residents for another twenty years. Citizens and businesses in both states would continue the economic benefits of low electric power costs, maintaining good jobs and industry on both sides of the Connecticut River. Vernon would be a vibrant community, not a ghost town.

Robert Hargraves
Hanover, N.H., May 26

You may remember Bob as the person who prepared the excellent Rotary Slide Show about Vermont Yankee, which I described in my post on Summing It Up. Here's a link directly to his presentation.

Vernon, Vermont

Let's acknowledge that VY is still in Vermont, and it just ended a refueling outage that included many upgrades. Various start-up issues (small new leak, problem in the switchyard) have the anti-Yankee folks viewing-with-alarm, and Arnie Gundersen explaining that these problems are typical of Yankee, and probably indicative of the End of the World as We Know It.

Arnie hasn't noticed a slightly bigger leak somewhat south of here, I guess.

Singing Millirems

In honor of the outage, here's a video from about three years ago. Fifty Ways to Save A Millirem. I particularly like the percussion. You don't see drums like that everywhere. Well, you can see drums like that everywhere under some circumstances. But you don't see them in most bands.

P.S. A quick thank you to Rod Adams for linking to my post in his post

And yet another link! I was on the Rod's Atomic Show Podcast last night. Among other things, we spoke about public meetings held by the NRC in Vermont and Maryland. Very different audiences, to put it mildly.

Memorial Day, blog posts, and submarines

Neutron Doodle was the winning song in a recent ANS contest. Since it is based on Yankee Doodle, I thought it would be a good choice for my Memorial Day post.

I also want to encourage people to check out the Third Carnival of Nuclear Energy, the best of the blogs. It contains an illuminating post by Rod Adams about attending a public meeting about Calvert Cliffs 3 and debating with Paul Gunter of Beyond Nuclear.

While I am pointing out good links, let me point out John Wheeler's discussion of Indian Point and Vermont Yankee water issues. John does a masterful job of exposing the politics (as opposed to the science) behind these "controversies."

Memorial Day and the Military

Memorial Day is when I think of my relatives who have served in the military. This group includes my husband, and it includes my uncle (now deceased) who volunteered the day after Pearl Harbor. While many of my relatives volunteered (and a few were drafted) they all served in the days when "being drafted" was a possibility for everyone, including hearthrobs like Elvis Presley.

I am not eager to see the draft come back, but I think society is somewhat more polarized now that the draft has ended. We now have many families who can't imagine being in the service. When our son graduated high school, we urged him to go into the Navy to get some real-world experience before going to college. Our friends thought we were crazy to suggest that a child go into the military. (They had never been in the service.) At any rate, our son decided to go straight to college.

In college, he obtained military-type experience (to some extent) by joining the mountaineering club and learning serious wilderness survival skills. Later, at Boeing, he was co-leader on an expedition to the Bugaboo Mountains of British Columbia. At any rate, our son made the right choice for his life, but we weren't nut-cases for suggesting he follow his father into the Navy for a while.

That's another thing I like about living in Vermont. It's kind of old-fashioned here, with flags flying on Memorial Day, and special license plates for veterans. Memorial Day and military service still mean something in Vermont.


Which brings me to submarines. A few weeks ago, this article appeared in our local paper urging the navy to NOT allow women on submarines, for fear of irradiating their egg cells or unborn fetuses. My friend Howard Shaffer, a former submarine officer, wrote an excellent rebuttal letter, which was published. Living within 200 feet of a reactor on a submarine should put the Vermont Yankee issues in some kind of perspective. Of course, for some people, "perspective" on "risks" is an oxymoron. One must simply avoid all risks...from nuclear.

I include a slightly edited (for length) version of Howard's letter here.

Submarine crews are safe from radiation because of the history of the science and engineering involved.
In 1942 when scientists and engineers were building the first reactor in the Squash Court, under the football grandstand at the University of Chicago, they realized that a separate group would be needed to protect the people on the project, the public, and the environment from excess radiation....The group was called “Health Physics,” a wartime cover name. The name remains, and Health Physics is a separate discipline, with professionals everywhere radiation is used.
Shielding was designed for the first reactors, and the results measured when the plants were at full power. Shielding design quickly evolved into standard practices.....People wear monitors, there are installed instruments that measure and alarm, and there are scheduled surveys by Health Physics with portable instruments. This basic practice is true everywhere-on submarines, at power plants like Vermont Yankee, and elsewhere. There is over 60 years of experience with shielding design, and data to support it.
The May 19 op-ed said, “It is widely believed by many that advanced shielding systems can adequately protect personnel from radiation and minimize the risk to women.” No. It is not a matter of belief. This is known and proven. In the submarines in which I served, the shielding was adequate to protect men, too – me included! The doctor seems to have forgotten practically all of what he learned, or should have learned in his naval nuclear power training and medical school.
Radiation exposure standards date to the first international conference in 1928.
There will be no shielding changes needed to protect women on submarines.

Howard Shaffer PE
Licensed Professional Engineer, nuclear, NH, VT, MA, IL
Engineer Officer, Flagship, US Atlantic Fleet Submarine Force 1968-9
Enfield, NH 03748

Friday, May 28, 2010

Renewables and the Cost of Conservation

As you remember, I had a busy Tuesday, trying to deal with every aspect of my energy life. I wrote about most of these aspects in earlier posts. Today, I will write about the last two issues: renewables and conservation
  • I read a good report about renewables (I was impressed)
  • I went to a meeting about conservation (I was discouraged)


Vermont Energy Partnership (VTEP) just issued a good report on the status of renewablesin Vermont. As I have mentioned before, Coalition for Energy Solutions (I am a member) recently did a report on what types of renewables are possible for Vermont, Vermont Electric Power In Transition. These two reports make a good pair. The Coalition report discusses renewable possibilities in Vermont. VTEP describes the status of every good-size renewable project proposed for Vermont.

One nice thing about a small state is that things are understandable. Numbers tend to be in the multi-millions, not the eyes-glaze-over billions. Five wind farms are proposed. Fifty megawatts of renewables qualify for the feed-in tariffs. These are small numbers. A combination of our report and the VTEP report can give a person a good overview of the Vermont situation.

The bottom line is:

Renewables can be built and probably should be built, but they can't take over the load from Vermont Yankee.

It was late afternoon by this time, and time to drive ninety miles south to White River Junction, for my next meeting.


I am on my town's energy committee, and I had to leave the Vermont Tiger meeting a bit early to attend a joint meeting of the energy committees of several towns. My second hotel meeting of the day, with my second set of sandwich-makings for a meal. Ah well, some days are like that.

There were a higher percentage of sandals at the conservation meeting compared to the Vermont Tiger meeting, and the Coolidge Hotel is definitely older, more modest, and funkier than the Burlington Hilton. But everyone who is on an energy committees knows something that a lot of other people seem to have forgotten. Even people who wear suits forget this.

It takes money for conservation!

That's all we talk about, we energy committee types. We talk about money. Mostly grants. Grants to retrofit our Victorian buildings for energy efficiency. Grants for lighting. But other issues also arise. Dealing with the selectmen about payback times for conservation investments. Transportation: what does a rural town do if fuel costs for the plows are its biggest energy costs? And so forth.

In economic analyses, people "fold in conservation" to show that renewables-and-conservation are cheaper than anything else. Really? If conservation is so cheap, why can't our towns afford it?


Conservation, like renewables, is frequently oversold as an answer to energy issues.

It's been a tough week, and I plan to enjoy the weekend.

Entergy Communications

As you remember, I had a busy Tuesday, trying to deal with every aspect of my energy life. Among other things, I
  • Took over the administration of the Save Vermont Yankee group on Facebook (I was annoyed).
  • Went to a Vermont Tiger symposium and practiced media relations (I apologized)
  • Heard Brian Dubie speak (I was impressed)
  • Talked to people about Vermont Yankee (I was depressed)
  • Read a good report about renewables (I was impressed again)
  • Went to a meeting about conservation (I was discouraged).
I covered the first half of this list in my post yesterday. Today I will talk about Vermont Yankee and communications.

Vermont Yankee and Communication and Depression

The Vermont Tiger Crunch Time meeting was a perfect rendezvous for Vermont Yankee supporters. Republican candidates, economists, a meeting co-sponsorship by Vermont Energy Partnership. It could have been moderately cheerful for me.

Alas, I was not cheered. In many off-the-record conversations, I heard the same thing: "I like nuclear, I even like the plant, but I can't stand Entergy."

People expanded on the theme.
  • Entergy has to convince me they are telling the truth.
  • It's nearly impossible to get information out of them.
  • The plant is an asset to the state, but I don't want to see us sign a twenty-year agreement with those guys.
I heard this over and over again.

I found it very discouraging. I blog for Vermont Yankee because I believe nuclear is the best option for the future, and the best transition to renewables. I can't defend Entergy's corporate communication style. I know that the plant is good: it just had a magnificent breaker-to-breaker run. The reliable electric power and the statewide economics of Vermont Yankee are very good for the state.

However, Entergy's communication style can be useless to counter-productive. For example, a story of a tour of the plant. I grant you that the author of this article is president of VPIRG and an opponent of Vermont Yankee. I also grant you that the tour took place during the outage. Still, this kind of tour is no way to win friends and influence people. Don't ask questions because your guide won't be able to answer them? Be abandoned in the parking lot with no further information?

Now, I can see why Vermont Yankee would NOT want to speak to these particular people. With the anti-s, any statement that can be taken out of context and vilified WILL be taken out of context and vilified. Still, there are better ways to communicate with anti-s then to refuse to answer questions. Perhaps only answer questions afterwards in a meeting room, with recording in place? Something like that?

Sometimes I think that the best way for Entergy to get Vermont Yankee's license renewed would be to sell the plant. I find this depressing. It's good plant, but nobody trusts Entergy.

I will post about renewables and conservation tomorrow.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Vermont Yankee, Facebook, Vermont Tiger and Brian Dubie

On Tuesday of this week, various aspects of my energy life came together and beat me up. I try to take life one-thing-at-time, but sometimes things gang up on me. Everything from media relationships to conservation.

Among other things, I
  • Took over the administration of the Save Vermont Yankee group on Facebook (I was annoyed).
  • Went to a Vermont Tiger symposium and practiced media relations (I apologized)
  • Heard Brian Dubie speak (I was impressed)
  • Talked to people about Vermont Yankee (I was depressed)
  • Read a good report about renewables (I was impressed again)
  • Went to a meeting about conservation (I was discouraged).
I will cover part of this list today, and part tomorrow.

Vermont Yankee and Facebook

I took over the Save Vermont Yankee Facebook group. An Entergy employee was running the group, and Entergy was concerned that the group could be misconstrued as something corporate-authorized. It was easy for me to become administrator, but it was also awkward.

But the group is in good shape now. Due to the former administrator, the group has over 1200 members! If you are on Facebook, think about joining.

After a certain amount of emailing on this subject, it was time to get in the car and drive to Burlington, about ninety miles away, for the Crunch Time meeting.

Vermont Tiger: Media Relations and Apologies

Geoff Norman of Vermont Tiger had invited me to a seminar on Crunch Time Vermont. I was happy to attend.

As soon as I got there, I saw Anne Galloway of Vermont Digger. I apologized to her for an earlier post in which I thought that Digger had taken down a debate between me and Donald Kreis. It turned out that the Digger site had suffered a virus attack and two hacker attackes within a two-week period. Since my debate had survived the virus attack, I thought Anne had deliberately taken it down. Actually, it was lost in the hacker attack that happened AFTER the virus attack. What a miserable time Anne must have had of it! (Now the debate is restored.)

I have always thought the Vermont Digger site is extremely important to Vermont, posting news and clips of events that don't make it into regular media. I was very glad to clear the air with Anne.

Vermont Digger has a complete story and extensive video clips of Crunch Time on its site today. Crunch Time was co-sponosored by Vermont Energy Partnership, which is in its turn partially sponsored by Entergy. I know the Vermont Energy Partnership people, but I didn't know they were co-sponsoring this meeting.

Vermont Tiger and Brian Dubie

At the meeting, I heard Brian Dubie speak. Except for Vermont Yankee, I try to stay away from Vermont politics. Democrats and Republicans support Vermont Yankee, whatever they may think of capital gains taxes and so forth. When Shumlin attacked VY, I defended it, but otherwise, I tend to avoid politics. So I wasn't sure what I expected from Dubie.

Dubie gave a very thoughtful speech about the different ways the Vermont tax and regulatory climate hurts businesses and people in Vermont. Everything he said was well expressed and well referenced. I decided that, even if I didn't know anything about Vermont Yankee, I would prefer Dubie to Shumlin. Shumlin went off half-cocked about how Germany gets its electricity. Shumlin also showed he doesn't understand property rights, freedom of the press, or the difference between Red China and Taiwan. In contrast, Dubie lined up facts (and a few anecdotes) for a persuasive presentation. Well, okay, Dubie's talk was slightly dull, too. Somehow, I prefer "dull" to "wrong."

Yesterday's Vermont Buzz shows another example of local Democrats being loose with the facts. I hope they don't make a habit of this. Vermont Buzz also has a good synopsis of Dubie's talk and the symposium in general.

Vermont is a Small Town

At the Crunch Time seminar, I was happy to meet one of my Carnot Communications clients, Bob Zider of Vermont Manufacturing Extension Center. I was also glad to meet Geoffrey Norman, of Vermont Tiger, who invited me to come to the meeting.

Nice people and a free lunch. What could be better?

There's no such thing as a free lunch.

More later.

Monday, May 24, 2010

About the Piping

"They lied!"

This is the biggest issue about the piping. Did Vermont Yankee deliberately mislead regulators about the existence of underground-or-buried pipes containing tritium and other radionuclides? That is THE question, from the days of the potluck to Donald Kreis post in Vermont Digger a few days ago. All other issues pale in comparison. The tritium leak was found within six weeks, and is being remediated as I write this. It's not about the tritium. It's about the question: Did Entergy lie about the pipes?

Two people responded to one of my recent posts about the subject:
  • Donald Kreis, Vermont Law School professor, who advises the legislature on methods to shut down Vermont Yankee
  • David O'Brien, Vermont Public Service Board Commissioner
In return, I have responded to their comments, and the conversation continued on Vermont Digger. The conversation was removed from Digger for a while, but has recently been restored.

Considering that the conversation was spread between various blog posts, I need to do a bit of a summary.

The Piping Diagrams in Review

In the post Piping Diagrams, I reviewed the legal investigative report Report of Investigation Entergy Vermont Yankee written by the law firm of Morgan, Lewis & Bockius. Since the Report is 140 pages long, I devoted myself to the first forty pages. I also referenced an article by Donald Kreis which referred to events that were described in the first forty pages of the Report.


I posted some facts:
  • On September 9 and September 11, 2008, Entergy met with the NSA, a group doing the CRA assessment (Comprehensive Vertical Audit and Reliability Assessment).
  • The NSA group were knowledgeable engineers and they were mainly assessing reliability.
  • Entergy presented piping diagrams for the plant, and gave copies to the NSA members
  • Entergy presented tables of piping which consisted of a table of pipes and whether the pipes carried radionuclides. They gave these tables to the NSA also.
  • Entergy and the NSA members agreed that the service water system posed the most reliability issues, and decided to investigate the service water system more thoroughly than other piping.
  • Entergy gave PowerPoint presentations at the meetings.
  • The NRC had copies of the diagrams that Entergy gave to the NSA members.
As far as I can tell, nobody has taken issue with the facts above.

I am going to post one more fact here, one that is worth remembering when we read the rebuttals.
  • All accusations against Entergy quote verbal statements and PowerPoint presentations, not diagrams or tables. Nobody has accused Entergy of altering any diagrams or tables before giving these items to the NSA.
Until somebody points out an alteration on a diagram or chart, we can conclude that the diagrams handed to the NSA were correct. PowerPoint slides and verbal statements may not have been correct, but the diagrams were accurate.

My opinions

I also posted some opinions:
  • The NSA and PSB were given piping diagrams, and if they did not examine them carefully, they have as much egg on their face as Entergy does. (I never said I wanted to be popular. Sigh. The number of people who will avoid me at meetings is growing and growing and....)
  • Don Kreis article concentrated on the misleading aspects of the Entergy PowerPoint presentations. He included references to the Space Shuttle and Afghanistan, but only mentioned the piping diagrams in passing. I pointed out that PowerPoint is always a short-form communication device, and a difficult one. However, the diagrams were available to check and answer questions.
Donald Kreis and Chairman O'Brien took issue with these opinions.

Kreis and O'Brien Object

In comments on my post, both Don Kreis and Commissioner O'Brien disagreed with my opinions. Disagreed rather strongly, as a matter of fact.

I will summarize their arguments below. I also cut and pasted their comments to my earlier post, An Amazing Conversation.

Objections to my opinions were:
  • Kreis said that the presentation was focused on the PowerPoint. Maybe it should have focused on diagrams, but it didn't.
  • O'Brien said that indeed, they had piping diagrams, but they were not told that some of the piping carried radionuclides.
  • O'Brien further stated that the legislation had us on a very tight schedule where we had less than 4 months to complete a massive inspection
  • O'Brien noted further that after discovering that Entergy's affidavit could not be relied upon, contractors (had to) go over the drawings and other information to identify the pipes that do carry radionuclides and it took about 5 weeks and cost about 150K.
  • O'Brien and Kreis agreed that regulators have to trust utility information. O'Brien put it very succinctly: we have to trust a utility to provide us with accurate information. Our entire system of regulation is based upon that basic premise. If that was not true, the DPS and every other PUC in the country would have to be at least twice as large. Once a utility shows it cannot be trusted to give accurate information, then we have to go over everything with a fine toothed comb.

Trust But Verify?

Entergy gave both piping diagrams and pipe lists (including radionuclide information in table form) to its regulators. It also made verbal statements that might have been misleading.

Obviously, it would have been better if Entergy had given this information in a more understandable fashion: a piping diagram labeled with radionuclide-carrying pipes. But that is not how P and I D diagrams are usually formatted. The fact is: Entergy gave the regulators complete information, in diagrams and tables.

So the question: Did they lie? becomes a different set of questions:

  1. Did Entergy have an obligation to present the information in a clearer form?
  2. Did the oversight panels and regulators have an obligation to verify the information they received, by looking past the PowerPoint and reviewing the basic data?
As a former EPRI project manager who reviewed many many sets of research results, I believe question two is very relevant. Research reports had "results" at the front, and data sets the size of phone books in the back of the book. I had to look at both areas. Surprisingly often, the two areas disagreed. This shouldn't happen, but it happens all the time. The data didn't quite support the conclusions. That's why they hire project managers, I guess.

Still, the questions above are both important questions, and worth an entirely separate post.


Late-breaking news. The NRC just released its report on groundwater monitoring at Vermont Yankee.

Graphics. I like this sculpture of Lady Justice by J. L Urban. The statue is part of a court building in the Czech Republic. Lady Justice holds a book instead of scales, and is not blindfolded. I consider her to be Lady Justice for the Regulatory Process. (The usual Wikimedia license.)

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Welcome to PopAtomic

Along with Dan Yurman, I want to welcome artist Suzy Hobbs of PopAtomic studios to the nuclear blog sphere. Her first post discusses the relationship between fine art and nuclear energy. Here's a lovely quote from that essay:
The fear of nuclear warfare, I believe, is a major contributing factor to the lack of support for nuclear energy. So, in developing new imagery, we try to use clean simple lines and bright colors to represent nuclear energy, in sharp contrast to the billowing grey mushroom cloud image.
An art studio sells art. Popatomic builds both custom artwork and wearable merchandise, such as T-shirts and Tote bags, at an Etsy store. Check it out!

Dan Yurman wrote a very thoughtful post welcoming PopAtomic.

The Pro-Nuclear Journey

I would like to say how much I welcome Suzy Hobbs, and understand the journey she has travelled.

When I first heard about PopAtomic studios several months ago, Suzy Hobbs did not put her name on her website. She was an artist in hiding. She lives in a very liberal town, and was afraid of people's reaction to her pro-nuclear opinions. Oh, she joked about her fears, but the bottom line was that she had a website, there was lots of art on it, name. Ms. Hobbs uses her name now, and I am very glad of it.

I am on a similar journey. I have two business cards. One is for my company, Carnot Communications, and one is for this blog. I have not put this blog on my company card, or the company name on my blog site. I almost didn't start the blog, for fear that I would never work in this town again. Like Suzy Hobbs, I feared the reaction of people in my town.

I keep my blog separate from my work (which is okay and the right thing to do) but I also realize that I try to hide the blog from clients. It's a fine line. Keep separate is appropriate, hide is going too far. I am not sure exactly where I am on this continuum. It changes from day to day. It's a journey.

I think that being pro-nuclear in public is hard. We aren't heard because we don't dare to talk.

More Art and More Journeys

The relationship of art and literature to science has always fascinated me. I have no talent as a graphic artist. However, I think I am the only person who has ever written a sonnet cycle about corrosion. I wrote about twenty years ago. (I could post the poems, but right now I happen to be sober.)

It's a great day for art in the nuclear blogosphere. I also recommend Cheryl Rofer's post at Phronesisaical, a blog that often concerns itself with politics and arms control. In today's blog, Ms. Rofer honors the way Martin Gardner influenced her life with his fun-with-geometry columns in Scientific American. She describes the relatively short jump from paper-folding to organic chemistry in her post, with some nice graphics of cootie-catchers paper folding.

Another journey, from geometric art to science.

Let's all enjoy our journeys.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

The Piping Conversation RESTORED

This post used to be titled The Piping Conversation Interrupted, and described a conversation about piping that mysteriously disappeared from the Vermont Digger web site.

I am happy to say the conversation is back! Don just emailed me that Vermont Digger had taken the conversation down by mistake. It's back!

A brief summary of the conversation below, and a hearty thanks to Don Kreis and Vermont Digger. I am deeply pleased that the Digger made a mistake and was not practicing any kind of censorship.


In a recent post, An Amazing Conversation, I referred readers to a post and conversation on Vermont Digger. On the Vermont Digger web site, Professor Donald Kreis of Vermont Law School and I discussed various things about how Entergy had supplied information to its oversight panels. We disagreed.

Among other things, Don and I debated whether or not it was appropriate for utilities to give relatively limited answers to utility commissions and oversight groups. I felt that any lawyer would encourage limited answers to hostile questions, and Professor Kreis felt that utilities should freely and openly help their regulators by volunteering information.

However, in the course of the conversation, Don admitted that utilities rarely actually volunteer information. Not just in the case of Vermont Yankee, but in general. Utility regulators have to ask specific questions to get specific answers, just as happens in a legal proceeding.

As Kreis described the situation, a good lawyer will instruct a witness before that witness faces cross examination. The usual instruction goes like this: "If you are wearing a watch, and the opposing counsel asks if you know what time it is, you answer 'yes.' "

The question you know? the answer is...yes. You do not volunteer even the time of day. Answer the question truthfully, and don't volunteer anything else.

Don and I agreed that it was a shame that utilities and regulators acted like opposing counsel, but in fact, they do. All over the country.

Whichever side of this debate you take, it was VERY civilized and made me feel good about have a conversation with a literate, witty person, Don Kreis. Yes, Don is generally in opposition to Vermont Yankee license continuance.

Thank you to Don and Vermont Digger for the excellent debate. Without a trace of censorship.

The illustration is the cover of Milton's Aeropagitica, published in 1644. In this document, Milton argues for free speech and individual conscience.

The Second Blog Carnival

Charles Barton is hosting the second Blog Carnival of Nuclear Energy at his blog, Nuclear Green. Once again the Yes Vermont Yankee blog is included, which makes me very happy.

Charles has written short, pointed introductions to the posts. Even if you don't link to the posts themselves, reading his summaries will give you a terrific view of the current topics of conversation in the community.

I can't resist some quotes from Charles here...

Read the Carnival. You'll like it.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Blog Carnivals

I am happy to be participating in a group of Blog Carnivals. For the carnivals, a group of bloggers link key posts to a post named Carnival of Nuclear Energy.

The first Carnival is hosted by the Next Big Future blog, and contains

You might call it the Best of the Nuclear Blogs. More precisely, this Carnival is Some of the Best of the Nuclear Blogs. There are many excellent blogs out there, and I don't mean to insult anyone who is not in the Carnival! The posts in this Carnival are top-notch.

I hope to participate in more Nuclear Carnivals in the future.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

An Amazing Conversation

My post on the Piping Diagrams elicited two very interesting replies, one from Commissioner O'Brien, and one from Don Kreis of Vermont Law School.

I am cutting and pasting their comments below.

However, something even more amazing has happened. In a world (Vermont) where people shout and throw manure, Professor Kreis and I are having a very civilized conversation about Vermont Yankee. We are discussing who said what to whom. We are having this discussion in a very positive manner. This is a conversation I want to publish on my blog! Alas, it is getting awfully I will link to it, instead.

Read and join the conversation at Vermont Digger or add a comment on this blog. Thank you to Don Kreis and the people at Vermont Digger for this opportunity.


IMPORTANT UPDATE: The link to the conversation at Vermont Digger no longer works, and the conversation has been removed from the site. An earlier post by Donald Kreis remains on the site.


The comments from my earlier post, below.

Don Kreis said...

Thanks for the invitation to leap into the dialogue. If I am understanding our respective comments correctly, we are a couple of Tufte fans who aren't in fundamental disagreement here. Diagrams and technical reports would have been a good focus at the September 11, 2008 meeting, which instead was organized around a .ppt presentation that was unhelpful for precisely the same reason that the Boeing .ppt show was unhelpful during that final flight of the Shuttle Columbia.

Obviously, the 9/11/08 PowerPoint didn't have the devastating consequences the Boeing/NASA one did. I never suggested otherwise. Your real beef, I think, is with Tufte -- he could have chosen other, less high-stakes examples of bad PowerPoint slides. The world is awash in them.

MAY 9, 2010 8:08 PM
David O'Brien, Commissioner said...
Meredith, with all due respect I have to disagree with your characterization of the Department having egg on our face with respect to the now famous underground pipes. When others are looking at this issue they are missing a critical piece that is not in the VY investigation or recorded even in our emails. It is the repeated claims by VY persons at the many meetings we had together with the consulatants and the oversight panel where VY was questioned on their claim that they did not have any underground buried pipes. It was this repeated asseration by VY that we trusted that they were giving us an accurate answer.

There are so many people saying why not just look at the drawings. Well, first, they probably have no idea how many drawings there are for this plant and the drawings alone do not identify pipes carrying radionuclides. After discovering that the company's own affidavit by a Mr. Rademacher could not be relied upon, Bruce Hinckley, our consultant that assisted us with the NSA audit, had to have contractors go over the drawings and other information to identify the pipes that do carry radionulclides and it took about 5 weeks and cost about a 150K. People forget that the legislation had us on a very tight schedule where we had less than 4 months to complete a massive inspection. We had to get the scope of the inspection agreed upon with the POP so we could get started before the clock ran out. We did not have reason to believe that VY was not providing accurate information with regard to the pipes and therefore had no reason to second guess them by spending more time and money to verify their statement upfront.

In summary:

1. First, the question isn’t just about whether there were underground pipes at VY. Of course, there are underground pipes at VY. We all knew there were underground pipes at VY, but what we were told is that there were no underground piping systems carrying radionuclides. So we could have been aware of numerous drawings showing underground pipes and that would not have alarmed us or clued us in that there are underground pipes carrying radionuclides.

2. Second, as a long time regulator, we have to trust a utility to provide us with accurate information. Our entire system of regulation is based upon that basic premise. If that was not true, the DPS and every other PUC in the country would have to be at least twice as large. Once a utility shows it cannot be trusted to give accurate information, then we have to go over everything with a fine toothed comb. We said we would verify the piping affidavits that Entergy gave us because we no longer trusted them to give us correct information. Hence the extra 5 weeks and 150K worth of verification.

MAY 10, 2010 8:35 AM
Meredith Angwin said...
First, I would like to thank Donald Kreis and Commissioner O'Brien for their thoughtful responses to my blog.

Donald, just a note that it is not possible for me be annoyed at Tufte. I have admired him since I first saw his first book, The Visual Display of Quantitative Information. And he can use whatever examples he chooses.

My issue was different. The Report of the Investigation clearly states that Entergy gave P and ID diagrams and tables of piping to the NSA team in meetings on September 9 and 11, 2008. As I understand it, the NSA team received this piping information in both hard copy and electronic form. (This is not in the report, it is something I heard through the grapevine. Maybe NSA actually only received paper copies, I don't know for sure.)

You concentrate on the Powerpoint presentation, and ignore the backup data which Entergy gave to the NSA participants. In my post, I cited the pages for my sources of data exchange. Perhaps you can read pages 19 through 23 of the text (25 through 30 of the pdf) and tell me why you think the Powerpoint was the only significant information-exchange method?

Commissioner O'Brien, I want to thank you for your response, which was full of new information (or at least, new to me). I didn't understand the legislative requirement to complete the massive inspection in four months. I had no idea of the constraints under which the Department was operating. From an outsiders point of view, the whole thing has basically gone on forever, with dockets, VSNAP meetings, NSA panels, POP panels, etc. When you are working inside the project, though, life looks different. The Department was clearly put in a position of Never Time to Do It Right, Always Time to Do It Over. Six weeks and 150K to do it over! Thank you for explaining the situation.

Thank you both for your comments.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Vermont and World Nuclear

In Vermont, it becomes very easy to think that the whole world is anti-nuclear energy. Except for the people in Vernon who work at the plant, of course. The anti-nukes make a lot of noise, some of it not very rational. Senator Shumlin asserts we have abundant solar resources in Vermont (making me wonder whether he lives here). The same old crowd in Brattleboro keeps making the same old shut-it-down statements. And so forth.

Today I will do a compare-and-contrast post. I am going to examine two places in which one would think that nuclear would be not-an-option. Instead, new nuclear plants are being built.


The Olkiluoto 3 reactor currently being built in Finland has become a poster-child for anti-nuke activists. The project has had major cost overruns of perhaps 1.5 billion Euros and is seriously behind schedule. (Similar reactors being built in China are within budget and on schedule.) The construction problems in Finland make the local crowd in Brattleboro extremely happy, as their worst economic assumptions seem to be proved true. Naturally, Vermont anti-nukes expect Finland will swear off nuclear forever.

Nothing could be further from the truth. As Dan Yurman (and others) report, the Finnish government is granting permits for two more reactors. Finland gets 1/3 of its electricity from nuclear now, and plans to increase that to more than half from nuclear. The Environmental Minister Anni Sinnemaeki objected that the new reactors would be “dangerous” because they are “based on foreign technology.” Okay. Whatever.

Perhaps the Finns are building nuclear plants because they are desperate. They have very few other energy choices. Their major non-nuclear option is buying gas from Russia; these purchases place Finland in energy fealty to their old enemy. Not even Shumlin would claim that Finland has abundant solar in the winter.

Perhaps poor old Finland has no choice.

So let's look at another country. Let's look at the United Arab Emirates.

United Arab Emirates

The United Arab Emirates (UAE) have a lot of oil. They have abundant solar year-round. Being near the equator, they can count on solar for many hours a day, even in winter. And they don't have a lot of clouds, either.

They are building four nuclear reactors. They plan to save their oil, use solar as appropriate, and build nuclear. It makes sense.

First of all, we are at peak oil, and oil will become more expensive in real terms as the century goes forward. Why should the people of the UAE burn their oil to make electricity? It is far better to sell it. The UAE have plans for solar, but even in a desert, people still need baseload. Also, they plan to use some of that nuclear power to desalinate water.

According to Wikipedia, the UAE population has grown from about 200,000 in 1968 to five and a half million today. Clearly, they need a new energy path for the future.

Thanks to Dan Yurman for the article about the reactors, and thanks to Rod Adams for this excellent video clip, straight from the Emirates. Watch the reasons for this decision in their own words. Unfortunately, not all the Arabic is translated.

If you have difficulty reading the subtitles, note that double-clicking on the video will open it in YouTube, in a bigger format.


North or South, resource-poor or resource-rich, nuclear is an important option. An essential part of the energy mix.

The same is true in Vermont.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

The Piping Diagrams

Late last month, the legal investigative report on Vermont Yankee was released by the Public Service Board. Report of Investigation Entergy Vermont Yankee was written by the law firm of Morgan, Lewis & Bockius. To prepare the report, the firm spent 2,300 hours interviewing 29 people and reviewing 65,000 documents.

The Missing Piping Diagrams

In an early February post, I wrote: A huge portion of this story is missing. In all this testimony, nobody asks for the piping drawings. People send emails or ask questions: "Do you have such piping?" They get answers: "Nope." Nobody ever asks to see a diagram.

I also pointed out that if the regulators and panels didn't request the information, or if they didn't examine the information they had requested, there is plenty of egg-on-the-face to go around.

I Found the Diagrams

On page 25 of the pdf (page 19 of the text) of the Report of Investigation, I found the following information, which I have paraphrased for clarity:
In a meeting with the NSA team on September 9, 2008, Entergy provided the team with the Piping and Instrumentation (P & ID) diagrams of the Main Transformer, HPCl, Condensate & Feedwater, Residual Heat Removal, Cooling Tower, Service Water, and Condensate Storage with underground piping.
On page 27 and 28 of the pdf (page 21 and 22 of the text) there is a description of a further meeting on September 11, 2008, in which VY gave NSA tables of piping that was included in VYs Buried Piping and Tanks Inspection and Monitoring Systems, (BPTIP) reviews. The tables included the AOG piping (which was later the cause of the problem) and other systems associated with the tritium review program. Contamination levels were described for each length of pipe.

One of the VY people (Naeck) said (page 22, paraphrased) that the NSA people were smart engineers. He felt NSA knew of the existence of piping that carried radionucleides.

Who knew?

NSA knew, as above.

Who else knew? The NRC knew. At the NRC meeting on April 19 in Brattleboro, NRC staff members stated that they had records of piping at Vermont Yankee. They stated that they did not come forward during the NSA or POP review process because the NRC does not participate in hearings between a plant and its state regulators. However, I am reasonably sure that if a state regulator asked them for piping diagrams, they would have agreed to share them. They might have had to get permission from the power plant. I don't know. Of course, nobody asked the NRC because the NSA already had the diagrams.

In short, everyone knew.

PowerPoint or Piping Diagrams?

Recently, Donald Kreis of the Vermont Law School has written about this September 11 meeting which included the tables of piping. However, he describes the meeting as being based on a misleading PowerPoint presentation. Kreis ignores the piping tables which were given to the NSA at that meeting.

Like Professor Kreis, I am a fan of Edward Tufte. Like Tufte, I have mixed feelings about the use of PowerPoint. PowerPoint certainly played a role in the shuttle disaster Kreis mentions, but the corporate culture of NASA played a bigger role.

I do appreciate Kreis use of effective rhetoric. He puts VY, shuttle disasters, and Afghanistan losses together in one article, tarring VY with completely unrelated disasters. This was a true tour-de-force, and worthy of a lawyer who knows how to persuade people. I can't write a comment on his article, though, because comments are closed. Perhaps Kreis will comment on my post instead? I think it would be worthwhile to have a dialog.

After the VY-NSA Meeting

Let's leave Kreis and PowerPoint now, and go back to the Report of the Investigation. The early pages show VY and the NSA amicably deciding that the Service Water System (SWS) is a more vulnerable system that the CST (Condensate Storage System) or other systems. They mutually conclude that piping in trenches is likely to be far less of a problem than the SWS, and they decide to investigate the SWS.

As a former corrosion engineer in nuclear plants, I agree with this decision to switch the focus from the CST to SWS. The SWS uses untreated water for cooling the condenser, and always poses problems of corrosion and biofouling. As one engineer at VY says early in the report Breite, quoted on page 25 of the pdf, 19 of the report: (I was) not surprised (we were looking at SWS) because everyone looks at SWS. SWS across the industry consistently raised reliability concerns.

Much later, things got difficult. The players changed and the questions changed. The agreements about what systems to investigate did not hold, but that is another post for another day.

Right now, we can leave the situation as amicable as it was in late September 2008. Piping diagrams were available. NSA and Entergy had agreed to investigate SWS. Groups were in agreement. (We're now on page 40 0f the pdf and 34 of the report.)

Later, things changed.

Beyond Egg

In recent articles, DPS and Arnie Gundersen claim that they were not given sufficient information. Since they had access to P & ID diagrams and pipe lists, what information did they feel they were lacking? (Perhaps they are just trying to rub the egg off their faces. Or perhaps information was lacking, though the articles don't say what information they were denied. )

I recommend Rod Adam's excellent post on this subject. Adams gives important insight into people's motivations.

I also plan to get beyond page 40 of this 140 page report. Later. In another post.

Graphic of part of a P&ID diagram in accordance with Creative Commons license.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Nucleonics Week

I said that I would keep people informed of reactions and reviews of the Coalition for Energy Solutions report Vermont Electric Power in Transition.

A brief review of the report is in Nucleonics Week, May 5 edition. The review is by Suzanne McElligott and appears on page 8 of the magazine. Since I know what our report says, I was more interested in the article's quote from James Moore of VPIRG. Moore is the author of the Repowering Vermont report which we reviewed.

A few days ago, Moore had this to say about us and our report in the Brattleboro Reformer: Their analysis, if you can call it that, is disingenuous," he said. "It’s a Vermont Yankee support group manipulating the numbers to paint the picture that they want."

In Nucleonics Week, he seems to have changed his tune. Instead of "their analysis, if you can call it that," his new words are "no surprise." Here's the quote:

If coalition members “were just focused on capital costs then yes, building hundreds of megawatts of renewable generation costs a lot. Building hundreds of megawatts of anything costs a lot, this shouldn’t’ be a surprise.”

I was wondering what part of our analysis was disingenuous. That word has a nice ring to it, but it is more accurate to acknowledge that the high costs of renewables are "no surprise."

I am glad Moore noticed, however belatedly, that our report simply quantifies a situation that is intrinsically-- no surprise.

Matt Dunne

While I was in Montpelier for the press conference, I gave a copy of our report to Matt Dunne, a candidate for the Democratic Gubernatorial nomination. Today, Vermont Buzz has a review of his web site and energy policies. Like all the Democratic candidates, he wants to shut down Vermont Yankee. Still, I found the review interesting because Matt acknowledges the need for baseload power, but plans to supply it with biomass. Many environmentalists in Vermont seem to think that baseload is "your father's Oldsmobile."

Otter Creek

This just in....

The small Otter Creek Hydro station, which has supplied locals with inexpensive power for years, needs maintenance and has been sold to CVPS. It is 18 MW (actually, we are talking about a series of hydro plants here) and was sold for $33 million. A further $13 million in maintenance will be required. Rates are going up for the plant's customers.

Even existing renewables are not free.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Shumlin Overstates Again

Was it only yesterday that I wrote a post about Shumlin overstating himself, claiming that Germany got 30% of its electricity from solar when it only gets 1% that way? Gosh, it seems like yesterday, but it was actually six weeks ago.

Shumlin did it again. He made massively incorrect statements. Then he ran with them. Today's Shumlin statements cannot be blamed on the poor tongue-tied politician vainly attempting to deal with a fierce and unanswerable Fox News reporter. Shumlin did this one all by himself. He issued a press release, quoted below:

Message to Entergy Louisiana – “You are in Vermont – Not China”
Montpelier , Vt. – Entergy Louisiana announced it is now imposing “new guidelines” for journalists. Entergy will now have a “caddy” that will control all cameras and video cameras on site and will confiscate all cameras and review stills and video footage. Entergy Louisiana will then return cameras ‘at time to be determined’ by Entergy.
The new guidelines would have prevented Vermonters from ever seeing the picture of the collapsing Cooling Tower or the transformer fire. Without these photos Vermonters would never have known about the level of deferred maintenance occurring at the plant.
“These new tactics disguised as ‘guidelines’ more resemble actions of governments like The Republic of China. Entergy Louisiana’s actions make it impossible to believe them when they say, they are committed to being more open and transparent, “said Senate President Peter Shumlin. “This is not the Vermont way!”

Short Background

Entergy was forced to allow a group of intervenors to take a tour during the outage. The intervenors were bringing their cameras, and Entergy wanted to restrict the pictures they took. More specifically, they wanted to ban documentary film maker Robbie Leppzer from filming within the plant. The outcry against this decision was fierce, and Entergy backed down. They allowed the filmmaker on site, but insisted on reviewing all film taken within the plant. This is the background for Shumlin's press statement.

How is Shumlin Wrong? Let Me Count the Ways

First Error: These new tactics disguised as ‘guidelines’ more resemble actions of governments like The Republic of China. Actually, no. Every industrial facility restricts cameras on site. When we toured the coal plant, the rule was "no cameras." At any software company, the rule is "no cameras."

Oddly enough, freedom means that you can restrict people from taking pictures within your property. You can keep the people out. (No Trespassing!) You can keep the cameras out (No Cameras!) Or you can be very sweet and mild-mannered (We will review your pictures to be sure you are not showing proprietary information or information about security measures.) Entergy is being very sweet about this. In return, Shumlin is following the rhetorical fallacy of Reductio Ad Hilterum. Instead of Hitler, Shumlin is using China.

Second Error: The new guidelines would have prevented Vermonters from ever seeing the picture of the collapsing Cooling Tower or the transformer fire. Oh, for heaven's sakes, Mr. Shumlin. Those pictures weren't taken by the press. The press was nowhere around at the time.

When they were faced with a cooling tower collapse, do you think that the first thing VY staff did was call the Brattleboro Reformer? Of course not. Some people at VY took pictures to document the problem, others shut off the water. Now, the way the pictures got to the press is a bit mysterious, and they were "leaked" by sources before Entergy had a chance to distribute them. At least, that is the story I heard. I hope people who know more will correct this post if I am wrong. At any rate, press access to the plant had nothing to do with it.

Third Error: Without these photos Vermonters would never have known about the level of deferred maintenance occurring at the plant. Sure, Mr. Shumlin. Nobody would have told the NRC or issued a press release about the incidents. It would have been much better to simply have lots of gossip in Vernon and Brattleboro. Sure. That's the Shumlin view of how industrial facilities operate. Germany gets 30% of its "juice" from solar, and industrial facilities hide even the most obvious events (such as collapses and fires) from their regulators and the public.

Fourth Error: these pictures on their own say very little about the "level of deferred maintenance" at the plant. These incidents are not an advertisement for the plant, that is certain. But I think that the plant's recent 532-day-power run without significant time off-line or unscheduled outages says a great deal about the plant's general level of maintenance. It's one of the best power plants in the country.

Conclusion: Vermont Yankee is a good power plant, and Shumlin is a .... Okay, I don't want to go there...

Shumlin overstates himself.

Oh for heaven's sake. I had to read Terri Hallenbeck's blog on the subject to notice that Shumlin referred to the Republic of China (aka Taiwan) instead of the People's Republic of China (aka China or Red China). The Fifth Error. I am embarrassed that I didn't catch his mistake myself.

Monday, May 3, 2010

Caldicott Contest Winner!

A few weeks ago, I announced the Caldicott Contest on this blog.

The rules were as follows:

Write an essay of up to 300 words. In this essay, do for another industry or product what Helen Caldicott does for nuclear. The winner would be a guest blogger, or receive a bottle of wine, or both.

I kicked off the contest with an example of a rant about your car destroying your neighborhood and the entire ecosystem. While parked in your garage.

The three entries we received were much better than my example:
  1. Kit P warned against the dangers of toothpaste used on newborns, who get no benefit from it. He volunteered to travel the world warning of toothpaste dangers, if someone would pay his expenses.
  2. Joffan pointed out that single paper cuts were painful, and yet paper is sold in 500-unit packs. Therefore, thousands of people world-wide must be dying from multiple paper cuts.
  3. David Lewis posted on the dangers of solar power, and the suicidal nightmare of people using power derived from the fusing of hydrogen.

They were all funny. Very funny. I couldn't decide.

So I asked my husband to choose. He's a mathematician. You may think that mathematicians are not stand-up comics. You're right. Still, he has a good sense of humor, and he needs it, being married to me. Being married to me, he also made sure I understood that his decision was final, and not the beginning of a discussion. I agreed.

The winner is: David Lewis! George loved how Lewis followed Caldicott's diction, including the barely contained tears. David's post exceeded the word count, but it won first prize anyhow. Okay. So maybe it wasn't the best-run contest... David, I hope you will be guest blogger sometime this month. Please email me. I would also like to also provide you with a bottle of wine if possible. My email address is in my profile.

Here's David's post. Kit and Joffan's essays can be read in the Comments section of the Caldicott Contest post. You will enjoy reading them.

The Winning Entry By David Lewis

It is my great pleasure to introduce to our audience here at Gibbering Idiots Unleashed On Audio, Helen Caldicott.

"Good morning Dr. Caldicott. You've been writing and speaking on the dangers of solar power since the first hydrogen bomb exploded in the early 1950s, yet this horrible and dangerous nightmare that civilization is involved in continues. Can you give us your assessment of the situation today, after your 60 years of work trying to keep this catastrophe from happening?"

Caldicott: "Well I think the human race is bent on a suicidal mission. I can't describe it in any other way. And I think I will go back to Albert Einstein who so long ago said, prophetically, that the fusing of hydrogen and the collecting of the power produced changes everything save man's mode of thinking, thus we drift toward unparalleled catastrophe. (chokes back tears in a very dignified manner)

During the crazy, crazy, Cold War, America and Russia built 1,529,893 times as many hydrogen bombs as would be needed to destroy the entire Universe. Every planet in the Universe, every city in every country, every child's playpen, right down to each sock in each precious little child's chest of drawers, is targeted with at least twenty of these hydrogen bombs. If even one thousandth of one of these bombs went off, the nuclear winter bomb war blast horrible radiation insane exploding mutant end of the world would be here. And so we are on a suicidal path. We come close to nuclear annihilation many many times each day as, at the whim of the uncontrollable twitching of the fingers of the leaders of Russia and American on the button that will launch and explode every last one of these bombs, we are threatened with the end of the Universe at any instant. I don't know why we are still here.

And at the same time, back on the farm, the evil solar power industry has gone berko and wants to build solar power stations by the thousands and millions. All over the world. And they know that solar power in itself increases global warming because just thinking about it releases massive quantities of deadly global warming gas. Each solar facility is massively expensive and the entire enterprise is subsidized completely by the federal taxpayer. But the solar power industry says, in a lie, that it is the answer to global warming and that it will build solar collectors left right and center. So we are on the path to annihilation. This is because any country that has solar collectors has access to hydrogen bombs, and that means plutonium triggers, which are produced in nuclear reactors. 500 trillion tons of plutonium are produced in one reactor each year and you only need one tenth of a picogram of plutonium, (with a confiding tone) it actually only takes one fifteenth of an attogram (which is billions of times less material than one picogram), to make a nuclear bomb. (more choking back of tears in a dignified manner). And so, as the solar industry expands, as each country obtains solar collectors and power stations, and thus gains access to evil hydrogen fusion power, that is, hydrogen bombs, that destabilizes the balance of terror between Russia and America. And so, for instance, if Lower Slobbovia decides to aim its solar collectors at Upper Tuckus, for as much as one second, the anxiety would be so high, that it is inevitable that Russia, America, and every other solar power using country in the world will launch their weapons, and every hydrogen bomb in the world will all blow up at once. And that's the end of life on Earth. And so, when we see the solar industry on stage, remember, the backdrop is hydrogen bombs exploding ending all life on Earth."

People interested in more of this extremely important, very timely and rational discussion should download the rest of this podcast from Authors Audio, entitled Nuclear Power is not the Answer - Helen Caldicott.

Photo of strawberry in champagne courtesy of Wikimedia and Steve Ryan.

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Some Results from our Press Conference

I guess we really won't know until we see what kind of coverage we get, but I wanted to post about our Montpelier press conference yesterday. At this conference, the Coalition for Energy Solutions announced and released our evaluation of VPIRG's report on replacing Vermont Yankee with renewables.

First of all, it was a gorgeous day. Just before our conference, the Race to Replace (Vermont Yankee) took off from the Statehouse steps. These were forty Middlebury College students riding to insist upon clean, affordable, renewable energy. (Well, it works for them.) I took some pictures as the bike riders indulged in the dangerous process of eating bananas, completely careless of the radiation consequences.

The bike ride had invited all the gubernatorial candidates to speak, and the five Democratic candidates came. I listened to them all bash Vermont Yankee. Some, like Matt Dunne, were upbeat about the challenge, and the great future Vermont would have in leading the world in renewables. (Did I mention that I know Matt's wife, Sarah Stewart Taylor? It is typical of both of them to be upbeat. I gave Matt a copy of our report.)

Other candidates, like Peter Shumlin, preferred to attack. The tritium, the aging hulk, the out-of-state owners who will not fund de-commissioning, how you need someone who will hold their feet to the fire.

Vermont Digger videotaped most of it. Here's Shumlin if you want to see him.

Meanwhile, I continue to learn how things work. Turns out that the two legislators, Senator Peg Flory and Representative Patty O'Donnell, did not introduce us at our press conference. They did not consider themselves to be sponsoring this press conference, but they were enough in favor of it to reserve the room for us. (They probably hadn't even had a chance to read the report.) If an ordinary citizen reserves the room, a legislator can "bump" the person from the room and reserve it herself. In that case, our press conference would have been sunk. We thank Representative O'Donnell for making the reservations that ensured we would be able to use the room.

The conference itself went well. All the Coalition members were there, and we all spoke, which made it run a little long. Some of the press were there, and Anne Galloway of Vermont Digger recorded part of it. (Some of the video may appear on the Digger website.) James Moore of VPIRG was also there part of the time. (Moore wrote Repowering Vermont.) He hung out in the back of the room and left early.

It was a busy day in the Statehouse, as the legislature tried to take care of the overdrawn unemployment fund, the state budget and...well...everything. The floor vote bell chimed almost constantly. We heard that other reporters would probably review our report later, when things stop hopping in Montpelier. The legislative session is supposed to close next week.

Meanwhile, the Brattleboro Reformer covered our report. As I am posting this, there are 21 comments, many positive toward the report. (And thanks to Rod and David who wrote comments.) I will keep you informed as more articles are published.