Thursday, May 17, 2012

Public Service Board Gives Entergy Time to Make Its Case

Combined Cycle Gas Turbine
Schematic from InfoPix
In early May, the Public Service Board held a preliminary hearing on the new docket for a Vermont Yankee Certificate of Public Good (CPG). The Public Service Board decided to open a new docket for the CPG, instead of re-opening the old docket. The older docket  undoubtedly included discussions of radiological issues: a recent federal court ruling showed that such issues are federal, not state purview.  Scrubbing the old docket of this material was considered to be too difficult.  For further background, you can see my earlier post: Hearing Tomorrow at PSB.

Since this was a preliminary hearing, there wasn't much they could argue about except setting the calendar and the dates for further hearings.  So they argued about that.

Actually, there wasn't much of an argument. Entergy asked for 18 months for the case and the Department of Public Service agreed. Even most of the intervenors agreed (or were over-ruled).  According to the Brattleboro Reformer, Jared Margolis, lawyer for New England Coalition said that New England Coalition (NEC) will also need time to review the voluminous amount of information Entergy will soon present to the board, said Margolis.
"Discovery is going to be intense. They're going to dump a lot of stuff on us."

Note: Amazing how often the nuclear opponents use the word "dump."

I suspect that most of the fireworks in this case will be provided by Sandra Levine, senior lawyer for the Conservation Law Foundation.  In my opinion, she is an expert at table-pounding.  The old lawyer saying: If the facts are on your side, pound on the facts.  If the law is on your side, pound on the law.  If nothing is on your side, pound on the table.

She is quoted in two table-pounds in the Reformer article, one of which is merely her opinion, and one of which is a false statement on her part.

The opinion: "One would expect an owner that can operate a nuclear power plant should be able to manage preparing a legal case in less than 18 months," said Sandy Levine, CLF's senior legal counsel.
Sure. That makes perfect sense.  If you can operate a power plant, you can prepare legal briefs very quickly. Everyone knows that (sarcasm alert).

The false statement.  Well, explaining this takes a little background.

Every year, Vermont Yankee has attempted to de-list from the grid-operators forward capacity auction, concerned that the plant may be shut down by the state.  Every year until this year, the operator refused to let them de-list, saying that Vermont Yankee was needed for grid stability.  This year, at the end of April, the grid operator allowed Vermont Yankee to de-list, saying that transmission project upgrades had increased grid stability and VY could withdraw from the auction. (Read about the auction at MarketWatch)  Ms. Levine took note of this and said: "ISO determined Yankee's power is not needed for reliability in the New England grid," said Levine, adding Entergy's claims to the contrary that were made to the PSB in previous hearings "are false."

No, actually, these statements were true.  Until late April of this year, VY had never been allowed to drop out of the auction, due to grid reliability concerns.  The false statement here was made by...well, you see it.

Why do I have a picture of a combined cycle gas plant at the head of this post?  Read the comment stream on this post at Vermont Tiger, if you really want to know.  The post is about a Conservation Law Foundation subsidiary working hard to set up a natural gas-fired plant in New Hampshire. Ms. Levine's comments on that post are more table-pounding, but they are amusing.

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