Sunday, March 4, 2012

Vermont Yankee and the Public Service Board: The Questions

Everyone Appeals the Ruling

After Judge Murtha's ruling on Vermont Yankee, the State decided to appeal to the Circuit Court. Entergy did not appeal the ruling, but instead prepared to go before the Public Service Board (PSB) for a Certificate of Public Good.

Originally, Entergy had wanted the judge to rule that the PSB docket was tainted and Entergy did not have to go to the PSB for the Certificate. However, the judge did not rule that way. Entergy did not appeal the judge's ruling, which was very favorable to Entergy overall.

Perhaps Entergy should have appealed immediately after the ruling, instead of deciding to go before the PSB. Last week, Entergy appealed to Judge Murtha and to the PSB. My article published at True North Reports covers the sequence of events. I encourage you to read The Many Appeals of Vermont Yankee at True North Reports.

Why Vermont Yankee Appealed

There is a hearing on the Entergy docket before the PSB this Friday, March 9. It is described as a "status hearing" on the PSB website. In advance of the hearing, the PSB sent Entergy a list of questions, listed as "memorandum re request for comments on procedural issues" on Feb 22 on the PSB website. You can read the questions here.

My first impression when reading the PSB questions was simple: Did one of the anti-nuclear groups write this memo? The questions didn't look like inquiries from an impartial board. Here are the two main questions.
  • Used Fuel: The PSB asks whether Vermont Yankee plans to store more used fuel from continued operation, since after all, used fuel storage is not in the original Memorandum of Understanding, and this subject was not (in the PSB's opinion) pre-empted from state oversight by the ruling. Of course, the judge was very clear that the state cannot regulate radiological safety, but the PSB doesn't seem to quite "get" that.
  • Pocket Veto: The state law governing PSB activity says that an existing Certificate must be honored until the PSB rules on a new one. However, the PSB asked whether the plant thinks it can operate after March 21, 2012 without a new Certificate. In other words, while state law says otherwise, the PSB seems to claim that the Memorandum of Understanding for VY gives the PSB a pocket veto of the plant. It's hard to tell whether the PSB is "asking a question" or "making a threat." I bet on threat, and the threat is: if we don't rule in time, you have to shut down, unlike the rules for every other docket before us.
Note: I am not directly linking to the questions on the PSB website because it is hacked or something. That document simply won't open for me! Luckily, I had downloaded the questions from the PSB site a few days ago, when the document DID open, and I put it on my own website for your reading pleasure. I have some key documents, such as the Memorandum of Understanding, the judge's ruling, and the PSB questions on a page called YesVY downloads.

What You Can Do

This is a very active controversy, and I will have to update the situation next week. Meanwhile, if you go to the PSB website, you can see Entergy's requests and all the Intervenor comments.

More important, you can file a public comment on this high-handed set of question through a link on the PSB website. Comments are open until March 7, 2012.

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