Thursday, February 10, 2011

Update Grab Bag: Tiny Tritium, Big Lawsuits, and Small Spats.

So Much Action

I haven't blogged since Sunday. I'm trying to catch up. My three topics are tritium (surprise!), the Entergy Earnings Conference call, and a little on-line spat.

Tritium Again

What: Vermont Yankee may have shot itself in the foot in terms of public relations by not submitting some water samples.
Exactly What? Apparently, Vermont Yankee did not notify the state about tritium found in a new quickly as the state expected notification. Entergy said that their sampling apparatus was down for repair.
Consequences: The Public Service Board (PSB) is mad, and has required VY managers to submit samples under oath. (No, not drug test samples. Tritium test samples.)
And It Means: Very little. The amount of tritium in the samples is tiny, less that 1000 picocuries per liter. In the newspaper stories I read, it was not clear that VY was required to submit the test samples on a certain schedule or it had chosen to do so. Whichever it was, VY shot themselves in the foot in terms of public relations by not submitting a water sample on time. Unless, of course, they weren't required to submit the sample in that time-frame. So the PSB is angry and fed up and won't take it any more. Or the PSB wants Entergy to think they are angry and fed up and won't take it any more. To me, this whole thing is like a set of chess moves. It's not about the tritium.

The Earnings Call

What: Entergy, like all large publicly held company, has quarterly earnings calls. In the most recent one, Wayne Leonard, President of Entergy, made some strong statements.
Exactly What Did He Say? States or governors are certainly free to voice their opinions, but the NRC, which has jurisdiction on these matters, must deal with the facts....Efforts also continue to secure a new power purchase agreement with the Vermont Utilities. Negotiations had been ongoing for some time now..... However, while we would certainly prefer to sell power in state, that is not a necessary condition, of course.
The Consequences: In only slightly-veiled terms, Leonard raised the possibility that Entergy might file a lawsuit on the grounds that the Vermont Legislature has pre-empted federal rules. (Recently, I listed three possible grounds for lawsuits.) The words were also a clear statement that Entergy considers that it holds some cards in the negotiations with the Vermont utilities. No law requires Entergy to sell power only to Vermont. As I pointed out in a previous post, a state always gets the best deal from its in-state power suppliers. That is, the state gest the best deal if the state and the supplier aren't suing each other. If they are suing each other, the court decides the deal.
And It Means: A lawsuit would be a game-changer about negotiations. Even the threat of a lawsuit is a game-changer. Shumlin responded by calling Entergy a liar, though he restrained himself from the L-word. He said it was A company that has a history of saying one thing and doing another. The Shumlin honeymoon is over, as far as I am concerned.

A Minor On-Line Spat

What: Howard Shaffer wrote a post about our Vermont activities for ANS Nuclear Café.
Exactly What Happened: Bob Stannard, an anti-nuclear lobbyist in Montpelier, wrote a negative comment on the post. I commented on his comment, and we had an on-line discussion. Or spat. Or something.
Consequences: Stannard decided to set me straight about Vermont Yankee's importance to Vermont. It's not that important, in Stannard's opinion. As he said: Approx. 1/3 of Vermont does not use or depend on VY power
And It Means: Two-thirds of Vermont uses or depends on VY power. I didn't say it: the anti-Vermont Yankee lobbyist said it. Sometimes the opponents tell it like it is.

The same image might have been used to illustrate the Earnings Call section.


Paul said...

Regarding the 1/3 vs 2/3 of Vermont: What is the population distribution? I'll bet VY serves much more than 2/3 of the population.

Meredith Angwin said...

Paul. You are right, but it is a little more complicated. VY produces about 80% of the power that Vermont requires. However, VY is in the far southeast corner of the state, and sells much of its power to New Hampshire and Massachusetts, the neighboring states. So it only supplies about 1/3 of the power Vermont uses. This is more about geography and avoiding line losses than anything else.

Joffan said...

Shumlin had a honeymoon with you? :-)

Shumlin is of course a poltician with a history of preferring nonsense to accuracy in the power generation field, when it suits him. I'm thinking most obviously of his persistance with falsehood on Germany's solar power share.