Monday, December 31, 2012

Looking Forward and Looking Back

A Podcast Overview of 2012

Yesterday, I took part in an Atomic Show podcast on Nuclear Wrap Up, 2012.  The participants were
Rod Adams (the show organizer) and blogger at Atomic Insights
Gwyneth Cravens, author of Power to Save the World
William Davis of Atomic Power Review and ANS Nuclear Cafe
Ben Heard of Decarbonize SA, and author of Zero Carbon Options: Seeking an Economic Mix for an Environmental Outcome, calling in from Australia

We discussed the sweep of nuclear energy, including Jaczko's resignation, the new builds in the United States, Vermont Yankee winning in court, progress toward nuclear energy in Australia, and the election of the pro-nuclear party in Japan. The conversation was wide-ranging and fun.

The 137th Carnival of Nuclear Energy Bloggers is also up at Hiroshima Syndrome. Great nuclear blogposts, collected for your reading pleasure.

My Own Overview of 2012

My viewpoint tends to be very New England based, and heaven knows there was enough going on.
  • Vermont Yankee won its lawsuit in Federal Court, mostly on the basis that the State was trying to pre-empt the federal regulation of nuclear safety.
  • The two major Vermont utilities merged.  Green Mountain Power is owned by Gaz Metro of Quebec, and Green Mountain Power now owns Central Vermont Public Service.
  • The State of Vermont issued a rapidly-written Comprehensive Energy Plan. This plan says Vermont will be 90% renewable power for everything (including heating and transportation) by 2050.  
  • Vermont Yankee also needs a Certificate of Public Good from the Vermont Public Service Board, and the Public Service Board opened a new docket.  The old docket contained material about nuclear safety (a federally pre-empted subject).  Many people spoke in favor of Vermont Yankee at the two public hearings on the new docket.
There's more of course, but these were the main stories. I put up 220 blog posts in 2012, and they still don't cover everything. (I wrote most of the blog posts, but there were also many guest posts, especially of testimony at the PSB hearings.)

Not a major energy story, of course, but...

Howard Shaffer and I were awarded Presidents' Citations by the American Nuclear Society in June.  We are deeply grateful to the American Nuclear Society for this honor.

Looking Forward to 2013

Let's look at those four stories again
Looking Forward Personally

A week from today, I will begin leading my course Engineering Adventures with Nevil Shute. I didn't know this when I planned the course, but there's an international organization, the Nevil Shute society, and they plan to make videos of the course.  A woman from Boston will drive up to attend the course and make the videos.

(No pressure there, Meredith!)

Looking back at my own year...220 blog posts (plus op-eds and ANS blog posts) are just too many.  My New Year's resolution is to cut back some, especially since I have some paid writing lined up.  I have neglected my little company, Carnot Communications, but Carnot seems to be reviving itself without much effort on my part.  I am grateful.

I also plan to write some longer things such as white papers and ebooks. That's the plan, anyhow.  My commitment  is unwavering: to Vermont Yankee, nuclear energy, and a reasonable energy policy.  However,  I have no desire to write even more blog posts next year.

I wish all my readers a happy, healthy, peaceful and prosperous New Year!

Monday, December 24, 2012

Christmas Links: Cookies and Friends, A Christmas Carol, and the Carnival

Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree
Links of the Season

Friendship and Food:  ANS Nuclear Cafe usually uses a guest post from me late in the month.  Consequently,  I have a holiday season post up today: The Other Side of the Cookie: Anti-Nuclear People in Our Lives.

We can all get along, if we try. We all want the best for our children.

Dickens and Harry Reid: The ghosts of Christmas Past (in terms of nuclear waste), Christmas Present (France and the WIPP) and Christmas Future visit a group of U S Senators in a Nuclear Waste Carol. This informative and funny post is from the Heritage Foundation.

136th Carnival: The most recent Carnival is up at Atomic Power Review, including Will Davis's signature guess-this-picture at the front of the post.  Then there's Rod Adams on climate change skeptics in the pro-nuclear community (can't we all just get along?), a great reading list on nuclear from Dan Yurman, and Gail Marcus celebrating 70 years of nuclear fission.  Plus much more.   A year-end treat, for sure!

For all my readers who celebrate Christmas, have a Merry Christmas with friends, family, food, music, and spiritual renewal. And even presents under the tree!

Sunday, December 23, 2012

A Safe Plant and the Same Few Protestors: Guest Post by Steve Moriarty

Hello.  My name is Steve Moriarty; I live in Greenfield, MA and have worked at VY for 34+ years.

Prior to that, I worked all around NE for New England Power Service Co., a construction company that services all NE plants.

My background is electrical construction/maintenance, Materials Management, Quality Assurance and Quality Control.

In that first job, I traveled from fossil plant to fossil plant in NE.  Some were oil and some were coal.  I also work at a few Hydro stations.

In 1977 I was assigned to VY. When I first visited the site I was pleasantly surprised.  It was clean, organized and run proficiency.

It was nothing like the dirty fossil plants that I was working in previously.

I soon saw that extraordinary attention was and continues to be paid to safety of the public, workers, and environment.

Procedure adherence was not an option it was and continues to be the standard operating procedure.

I was so impressed by the workplace and the personnel at VY; that I took a permanent position at VY and have been here since (now 39+ years combined service).

I met and married my wife, raised two children in Franklin County.

The bulk of my state taxes are paid to VT.

My daughter worked here as a summer employee while attending college.  She is a Microbiologist and is now married with two healthy and happy children.

My son is a Mechanical Engineer.  He worked here for two summers as an intern, and that experience set him up for success.  He too, is now married and healthy.

I would not have allowed either to work here, if I didn't truly believe it was a good and safe place to work.

Both of my children and my wife cannot believe the day to day difficulty that I must go through as a nuclear worker just to be able to do my job.

This defensive posture, that all nuclear workers are forced to assume, is not a daily task of workers in most professions.

My son noted that "there really aren't many young people speaking out  against your plant".   This was based on discussions over the nuclear  option at UMASS Amherst, while at college.

I got to thinking, and I too realized that I have been looking at the same faces for 10-20-30 years. (i.e. really not a lot of people speaking out against Nuclear, "just the same few").

I also asked my son him what he has heard at college and in the workplace, relative to nuclear power and its future, and his response was that many students in the Engineering program and engineering professionals are in favor of nuclear as a viable green source of energy.

Some, of course, like the idea of wind, solar, or hydro; but they also realize the nuclear power is needed, as well.

One thing that was agreed on was that this country's reliance on coal and oil was something they don't want.

They all seem to be very concerned about the environmental damage being done by fossil fuel, let alone the problems associated with obtaining those fuels.

So, what's the point?  The point is that if "these same few" spent as much energy on working with us to make the next generation of nuclear power plants even better, we all could gain.

It may be time to stop the 10-20-30++++ years of protesting and redirect that energy toward valuable and welcomed input to the future, all of our futures.

Nuclear power is here, it has proven its value, and it can be even more valuable to the environment and our energy demands into the future.

Thank you for your consideration, and I hope you see the real value of allowing Entergy-Vermont Yankee to operate into the future.


Steve Moriarty wrote this statement by email and submitted it to the Public Service Board on Docket 7862.  He was kind enough to send me a copy to be used as a guest post.  Moriarty's post and Stuart Endsley's recent guest post are boots-on-the-ground comparisons of nuclear and fossil plants.  Their words may be well known to utility workers, but they cover a subject that you rarely see in print.  Endsley's post: Acid and Air, the Environmental Effects of Non-Nuclear Electricity. 

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Contribute to the Energy Education Project

Please Contribute to the Energy Education Project

Ethan Allen
There are many worthy causes competing for your generosity, but Vermonters’ ability to support any and all of those causes depends on Vermont’s continued prosperity. Unfortunately, our prosperity is being sabotaged by misguided energy policies such as unrealistic energy "plans," ever-increasing subsidies for renewable energy projects, and state-sponsored efforts to shut down the Vermont Yankee nuclear plant.

The Energy Education Project of the Ethan Allen Institute needs your support this year with a $30 membership in our program. To donate by PayPal, you can click on the Donate button at the upper right corner of the blog, or  click the Donate Button on this page of the Energy Education Project website.

The Energy Education Project

The Energy Education Project works to educate people about the real, science-driven energy choices we have, and cut through the hyped rhetoric about how Vermont can be instantly "green" at almost no cost.

Meredith Angwin is a physical chemist with twenty years of utility experience,  and Howard Shaffer is a registered professional engineer in Vermont and New Hampshire, with over thirty years of utility experience. We are the two people who staff the project. 

We have written op-eds, blog posts, brochures and other material to spread accurate information. We have made videos for YouTube and blogs.  We have talked to Rotary and Kiwanis clubs all over the state.  We have been on radio regularly, including WDEV, WCAX, WNTK, WAMC, NHPR and WHMP.  

We have debated anti-nuclear activists at high schools, panels, and colleges in Vermont, including the University of Vermont.  We have commented on the Vermont Energy Plan in print, at hearings,  and on the radio. 

We have a web presence with a Save Vermont Yankee Facebook Page, a twitter feed,  this blog and an Energy Education Project website.  We also contribute guest blogs to ANS Nuclear Cafe.

At the grassroots level, we staged rallies in Vernon to show that Vermont Yankee has supporters (yes, they do!), and helped pro-Yankee activists get positive press coverage with a few well-chosen media events. 

Awards and Plans

For our energy education work, Meredith Angwin and Howard Shaffer received a major award in 2012:  the prestigious President's Citation of the American Nuclear Society. This award acknowledges that our Vermont battles have national significance.

The Energy Education Project of the Ethan Allen Institute has been the most active and effective group educating people about important Vermont energy issues. For a prosperous Vermont tomorrow, for prosperous Vermonters who can support other worthy causes tomorrow, please support the Energy Education Project today! 


Please, help us keep this good and important work going. Basic yearly membership in the Energy Education Project is just $30. A contribution of $200 will support the mileage and minor expenses for Meredith Angwin or Howard Shaffer for one month. $500 will fund copying, renting rooms for meetings, pizza parties for supporters, small ads about meetings, and so forth, for two months.

The Ethan Allen Institute is a 501(c)3 charitable/educational corporation, and your donation is fully tax deductible.

To donate, you can either send a check to the Energy Education Project/EAI at
PO Box 543, 
Montpelier VT 05601 

(please note "energy" on the memo field to direct the funds to the Energy project instead of the entire Institute, if that is what you want to do.)

or click the Donate button on this page  to donate by PayPal.

Monday, December 17, 2012

Acid and Air, the Environmental Effects of Non-Nuclear Electricity: Guest Post by Stuart Endsley

Stuart Endsley

My name is Stuart Endsley and I am in favor of granting a permit to Vermont Yankee. Over the past 32 years, I have worked in many types of power generation facilities -- both nuclear and non-nuclear.

I don’t need to speak of the economic benefit of Vermont Yankee since many business leaders have already done so. Nor do I need to speak about the great benefit local charities receive, you’ve heard from them as well. You, as board members, are smart individuals, and I’m certain you recognize the public good Vermont Yankee provides in regard to those issues.

Instead, I would like to speak of my personal experiences working at different types of power generation facilities -- the facilities that would most likely replace much of the energy generated by Vermont Yankee should it close.

I would like to tell you about a fossil plant I worked in last February where after just six weeks the paint on my car was damaged by the acid rain coming from the stack. The pollution that damaged my car does not know state borders and simply goes wherever the wind blows, including Vermont.  This is certainly NOT in the public’s good.

I would also like to mention a Biomass plant, a so-called “Green Plant,” that I worked in a few years back.  After just two shifts, the caustic chemicals used in the scrubbers ate up the threads in the soles of my shoes causing the soles to fall off. These chemicals were found on the walkways and catwalks and when it rained they simply went down the street and ultimately into the ground water which also doesn’t recognize state borders.  This is certainly NOT in the public’s good.

I’ve worked at wind turbine projects in Iowa, Minnesota, Oklahoma, California, and Texas. At each of these sites I found dead birds that had been killed by the turbines. These birds did not know state borders either and some of them may have come from Vermont. Again, this hidden side effect of wind energy is certainly NOT in the public’s good.

And what about the coal plant in southern Nevada with tens of acres of fly ash containing arsenic and God knows what other carcinogens?  All in public view where the winds were free to carry it where they pleased. Most certainly NOT in the public’s good.

So I close my testimony by asking each of you to consider the true environmental impact of these alternative sources of energy.  I encourage you to personally visit some of these plants to see first-hand, as I have, the impact of these plants in regards to the air we breathe, the water we drink, and the wildlife we enjoy.


Stuart Endsley works at Vermont Yankee.  He gave this statement at the Public Service Board's November 19 interactive TV hearing on Vermont Yankee's Certificate of Public Good.  He was kind enough to send me a copy of his testimony.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

The Price of Power in the Northeast

I wrote an op-ed for the Valley News (my local paper) on price of power in the Northeast.  Nuclear plants are providing the backstop against electricity price rises due to the rising price of natural gas.  I am proud that my op-ed is on the front page of the Valley News Perspective section. Vermont's Surplus of Power Uncertainty

The paper came late to my doorstep today.  Before it had even arrived, I had an email from a member of my town selectboard thanking me for the informative article.  That sort of thing just makes me glow!

A hearty thank you to Martin Frank, editor of the Valley News.  He helped me achieve clarity as well as brevity on this subject.  That is what a good editor can do.  I am grateful.

Let me also encourage you to read the 135th Carnival of Nuclear Bloggers, now posted at ANS Nuclear Cafe.  As usual, the best of the nuclear blog scene, and all in one place for easy reading.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Hot Potato and the New Request: Entergy Asks for Injunction against PSB and Shumlin in Federal Court

The DPS and Public Service Board Don't Join NEC

Public Service Board members David Coen, Commissioner
John Volz and John Burke (left to right in picture)
At November 7 PSB hearing
A few days ago,  the New England Coalition against Nuclear Pollution (known as NEC) sued in Vermont Supreme Court.  NEC asked the Vermont court to shut down Vermont Yankee, although there are two other jurisdictions hearing aspects of the Vermont Yankee case. In an earlier post, Vermont DPS Not Joining Opponent Lawsuit,  I wrote that the Vermont Department of Public Service (DPS) asked the Vermont Supreme Court to deny this NEC suit.

In that post, I wrote that the DPS probably asked the Supreme Court to deny the suit because if the Supreme Court undertook hearing the NEC lawsuit, that lawsuit would invalidate the Public Service Board process.  The DPS charter is to appear before the Public Service Board and take part in the Board process. Naturally, the DPS would want that process respected.

So, I was not surprised to learn that the Public Service Board itself had asked the Supreme Court to deny the NEC petition.  After all, the Public Service Board doesn't want its own process invalidated.

Hot Potato

However, there were still surprises in store for me.  I read last night in Vermont Digger that  Entergy filed a new motion in Federal Court in the against Shumlin, et al (in their official roles) and against the Public Service Board (PSB).

What? A request for a new injunction?

Yet, when I read the  Entergy motion for injunction, their request makes sense.  Not something I would have predicted, but it makes sense.  The Public Service Board has to stop  treating this Certificate of Public Good as a hot potato. "Somebody else take this, pretty please!"

Entergy notes the PSB rulings have been ambiguous. The PSB November 29 ruling pretty much invited third parties to challenge the operation of Vermont Yankee.  On page 5 of the Entergy filing, Entergy quotes the November 29, 2012 PSB ruling: it invites other parties to use the PSB ruling as a basis to bring actions against Vermont Yankee.

Aside: See Entergy quote about the ruling at the bottom of this post. Also, I wrote extensively about this recent ruling which was "strongly worded" against Entergy but also "narrow" and issued on an obsolete docket.  You can also read the ruling here. End Aside.

In other words, in that ruling, the PSB basically says: "The PSB is not going to take action, but you can. Let's you and him fight, and leave us (the PSB) out of it."

I don't understand the points of law, but I do understand that the Public Service Board has written ambiguous statements. The Public Service Board is supposed to hold hearings and issue rulings, and  I think the Public Service Board may be playing "hot potato" instead.  They have written an opinion that encouraged someone like NEC to take the docket off their hands. The Certificate of Public Good is a hot potato...quick, throw it to someone else!

Due Process

The purpose of the March ruling by Judge Murtha was to allow court cases and PSB dockets to continue in a logical and legal fashion, without the constant threat of the state attempting to shut down Vermont Yankee while the legal process is on-going.

It doesn't seem as if the concept of legal due process should be so difficult. You would think due process would be what the Public Service Board wants.  I would think the Board would want their own process to be respected. On the other hand, after a meeting this March in which the Board behaved in an unprofessional and crabby fashion (at least in my opinion), I am not sure what they want.

This Entergy docket for a Certificate of Public Good is a hot potato, politically.  But from the point of view of the law, it's a legal docket, and should be treated as one.

Ultimately, I think that is what the Entergy request is about.  The PSB should handle its dockets professionally. Instead, they issued an odd order on an old docket, and that order looks like an open-invitation to third party lawsuits.  By issuing that order, I think that the PSB hoped that someone will rescue the them from the necessity of making hard choices.

However, Judges and Boards are given the status, authority, and ability to make the hard choices.  That's why they hold the positions they hold.  I hope the PSB  realizes this.

Longish quote from the Entergy filing:

The PSB did not affirmatively state that it would take action to shut down the VY Station for failure to obtain a new CPG from the Board before March 21, 2012, but the PSB did expressly invite others (such as NEC) to do so: “Entergy VY entered into a binding contract with the Department [of Public Service] and other parties not to operate after March 21 absent Board authorization. Entergy VY has not challenged the validity of this commitment in its  federal litigation.[1] Thus, any of those parties could seek specific performance ... at any time which, if granted, would bar operation after March 21, 2012.” Id. at 19.  

Non-party (to this action) NEC has now accepted the PSB’s invitation, asserting that the PSB’s March 19 and November 29 Orders require an immediate shutdown during the Interim Period despite this Court’s prior rulings.

Also note you can see many relevant filings at the Energy Education Project website, by following links from this page: Dockets for Public Service Board and Courts.

This is the updated post.  I took the word "Update" out of the title, because it has been updated for several days already.

The correction for the update was  the following:

Entergy brought this request for injunction in Federal Court,  on the same docket as the main lawsuit in federal court.  It was not a new suit, and it was not brought in Vermont Supreme Court.  In my original post, I said this was a new suit in Vermont Supreme Court.  The post has been changed to show that correction.  

Carnival 134 plus Great Video from Bruce Power

Carnival #134 is up, and it is the first time that the blog Things Worse than Nuclear Power has hosted the Carnival. The Things Worse blog is written by two MIT engineers: grad student and recent graduate.  They write clearly and are not afraid to tackle the big subjects: the Fukushima butterfly scare, things worse than Chernobyl.

Read the latest Carnival and check out the great blog!

Speaking of "Things Worse Than Nuclear Power" -- there's coal.

Bruce Power's thirty-second commercial makes a clear case for nuclear power compared to fossil fuels and air pollution.  A tip of the hat to Rod Adams, who featured this video on his blog a few days ago.


Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Very Latest Lawsuit Updated: Vermont DPS not joining opponent

The Ruling and the Lawsuit

In my blog post a few days ago,  The Very Latest Lawsuit,   I described an order that the Public Service Board filed, which was strongly-worded against Entergy, but was not a summary judgment against the plant.

In response to that order, an opponent group, New England Coalition Against Nuclear Pollution (commonly called NEC), filed a suit in Vermont Supreme Court to have the Vermont Court take action and shut down the plant.

On the radio, Pat Bradley of WAMC had interviewed me and Pat Parentau of Vermont Law School.  I am a plant supporter: Parentau is an opponent.  We both agreed that this suit was not likely to get anywhere.

However, NEC hoped to have the Vermont Department of Public Service (DPS) join them in the suit, as DPS had joined them in other suits to attempt to shut down Vermont Yankee.

DPS will not join NEC in this one.

The Department of Public Service Steps Away from NEC

Yesterday, to my surprise, the DPS filed a brief asking the Vermont Supreme Court to deny the NEC appeal. Here's the Burlington Free Press article on the DPS filing  I also link to the DPS filing itself  posted at the Energy Education Project website.  The introduction to that filing:

While the Department appreciates the dedicated work of NEC and other parties over years of litigation with Entergy, the Department nonetheless respectfully requests that the Court refuse the relief requested under 30 V.S.A. $ 15. NEC's complaint does not encompass proper grounds for Section 15 relief; and other reasonable relief is available in pending proceedings before both the Board and the Second Circuit Court of Appeals.

Well, okay, DPS isn't really stepping away from NEC: they mention "dedicated work" and all that. But DPS realizes that there is no reason to open a docket in a new court for a case that is under active review in two other courts, federal and state.

The DPS decision somewhat confirms my belief that the NEC filing in Supreme Court was more for NEC publicity than to win the case.  Indeed, looking at the DPS filing, I realize that if DPS had joined NEC in this filing, DPS would have been undercutting the authority of the Public Service Board to make a ruling on the new docket for the Certificate of Public Good.  In retrospect, I realize...of course DPS wouldn't join NEC in this one.

I am talking about 20-20 hindsight here.  A few days ago, I thought DPS would join NEC in the Supreme Court filing, since that has been DPS's reaction in the recent past: "NEC is suing--let's join!"

Pat Parentau and I agreed with each other on the radio show a week ago: this filing will almost certainly be dismissed by the Vermont Supreme Court.  Looks like DPS came to a similar conclusion.

Howard Shaffer Post at ANS Nuclear Cafe:

Howard Shaffer has a great post  ANS Nuclear Cafe today: politics, lawsuits, and trials. Vermont Weather Gets Colder.  Vermont Yankee Politics Continue Hot.  I encourage you to read it.

Saturday, December 8, 2012

The Very Latest Lawsuit: Opponents Will Probably Lose

The Short Version--Radio Interview

On Wednesday, I was interviewed by Pat Bradley of WAMC about the latest lawsuit related to Vermont Yankee. An intervenor filed suit in Vermont Supreme Court to shut down Vermont Yankee. The suit won't get anywhere, in my opinion.

You can listen to the three minute radio clip here.  The clip includes:
  • Ray Shadis of New England Coalition saying why they filed suit in Vermont Supreme Court. 
  • My interview saying why the suit won't get anywhere.
  • Pat Parentau of Vermont Law School saying why the suit won't get anywhere.  
Bradley packs a lot of information into a short segment! It is well worth listening IMO.

Note: Shadis is also the man who debated Howard Shaffer on Thursday, as reported in this blog.

The Long Version -- Including Federal and State Legal Cases and Time Line

Still, it's a short radio segment, so here's the background. Sorry it is so lengthy, but it just is.  Legal cases, you know.  They go on for years.

Spring--Federal Court--Judge Murtha: In January and March of this year, Judge Murtha of the Federal Court in Brattleboro issued two rulings about Vermont Yankee.  I have both of the rulings (and a lot of other briefs) posted on my Energy Education Project page Dockets in Entergy Appeal. The significant one for this new court case is the March ruling, which contains this ruling as the final words:

The Attorney General has represented to the Court, however, that its position is that “Entergy may continue to operate under the terms of its current CPGs while its CPG petition remains pending at the Board” and does not take the position Vermont Yankee must close after March 21, 2012, while its petition for a renewed CPG remains pending before the Public Service Board. (Doc. 202 at 11, 15.) Given this representation, the Court does not see the need to consider at this time Entergy’s request for an injunction pending appeal barring the enforcement of subsection 6522(c)(5).

Therefore, Defendants are enjoined, pending the appeal of the Court’s final judgment and Merits Decision to the Second Circuit, from addressing the storage of spent fuel under the authority of Vermont Statutes Annotated, title 10, subsection 6522(c)(2) and from bringing an enforcement action, or taking other action, to enforce subsection 6522(c)(2) to compel Vermont Yankee to shut down because the “cumulative total amount of spent fuel stored at Vermont Yankee” exceeds “the amount derived from the operation of the facility up to, but not beyond, March 21, 2012.”

In other words:

  • The state Attorney General (AG) has stated that the state is not planning to shut down Vermont Yankee while appeals in court are pending.  Since the AG made this statement, the federal court will not rule on the issue.
  • The federal court ruled that the state cannot shut down Vermont Yankee based on spent fuel storage--while appeals in court are pending. 

These words are legalese, but they are pretty clear.  Business continues while the court cases go on.  This is the way lawsuits are usually handled, because shutting the plant down would be the same as deciding the court case without a hearing. It wouldn't be due process.

November--Public Service Board--statement:  I also have relevant rulings from the Public Service Board on my Energy Education Project page PSB Docket 7862 filings. This page also contains a link to the PSB docket itself, now up at the PSB site.

Docket 7862 is the new docket under which the PSB will issue its ruling on the Certificate of Public Good for Vermont Yankee. The new PSB docket includes a complete timeline for their process, ending with "Reply briefs due" in late August, 2013.

(Why did the PSB need this new docket? Older dockets on the issue, such as docket 7440, were contaminated with radiological safety testimony.  So the PSB opened a new docket 7862. You can read about the PSB decision for a new docket on a previous blog post.)

Meanwhile, this spring, shortly after the Murtha ruling, Entergy asked the Public Service Board to take some things out their consideration.  Entergy said that these issues were impacted by the court cases.

On November 29, the Public Service Board issued a "strongly worded" statement that it was leaving this material in the record for consideration.  You can link to the complete PSB Statement on the Energy Education Project website. (And here's the Vermont Digger article about the statement.

This PSB statement was both strongly-worded and against Entergy.  However, it was also "narrow."  (That's the PSB word.)  The statement was part of the process, not a summary judgment.  On the top of page 3, introducing the rest of the 27-page document, the PSB wrote as follows:

We want to make clear — this Order is narrow. We address only Entergy VY's request for relief under Rule 60(b). Because we do not accept Entergy's arguments concerning foreseeability, which were the basis for its motion, we deny the request and do not reach any conclusions concerning the merits of modifying or extending Entergy VY's obligations under existing Orders and CPGs.
Entergy VY filed its motion in Dockets 6545 and 7082. However, in many respects, Entergy VY's motion implicitly challenges the Board's March 19 Order in Docket 7440. Because this Order of necessity responds to those challenges, the Board is also issuing this Order in Docket 7440.

In other words, the Board even issued this strong statement on the old docket, Docket 7440 (see docket listing on the first page of the statement).  However, the Board had opened a new docket, docket 7862, to decide on the Certificate of Public Good.  Issuing this statement on an old docket certainly seems pretty "narrow" to me.

Actually, let's be honest here. I don't understand why the PSB issued this statement on the old docket, 7440. They will issue the CPG on the new docket, 7862. (Yes. I am not a lawyer.)

However, it is clear to even a non-lawyer that this PSB statement is part of the process, not a direct decision by the Board about the Certificate of Public Good. Such a decision will be issued on the new docket, Docket 7862, according to the PSB timeline published on that docket.

Latest Lawsuit

Newspaper press
The New England Coalition (NEC)  is a party to both PSB dockets.  That is, they are on the docket as intervenors in the cases.

However, NEC recently chose to bring suit in Vermont Supreme Court to ask the Supreme Court to close down Vermont Yankee, based on parts of the PSB statement of November 29. As usual, the Vermont Department of Public Service is thinking of joining NEC in the suit.  Here's the Vermont Digger article on the lawsuit and the Department of Public Service.

In June, the Department of Public Service joined a NEC lawsuit against the Nuclear Regulatory Commission: they sued to require the NRC to rescind Vermont Yankee's license.  NEC and the Department lost that case.  They lost on the grounds that the lawsuit was not timely and in the wrong jurisdiction.

Guess what?  I expect the same outcome with this NEC lawsuit, whether or not the Department joins them.  NEC is expecting the state Supreme Court to hop in to the case-- at the same time that both the Public Service Board and the federal appeals court are considering various aspects of the case.  The New England Coalition expects the Vermont Supreme Court to say: "Step aside, you other courts!  This is MY business!"

Courts rarely work that way.  They don't step into other courts' process, though they do hear appeals, of course.

You would think that by now, the Coalition and the Department of Public Service would have figured out that this case is very unlikely to succeed.  Parentau and I said virtually the same thing on the radio segment.  In other words, thoughtful people on both sides of the controversy have concluded that it is not worth bringing this case to the Vermont Supreme Court at this time.

You would think the intervenor and Department of Public Service would understand how courts work and not waste money on this sort of thing.

Reporters or Courts?

My personal opinion is that that the people bringing the suit aren't dumb.  They don't care if they win, and they don't expect to win.  They want the publicity, and they are getting it.

Even this blog post is de facto part of their publicity.


Taking Time Off

I'm taking a few days off, dear readers!

Happy Hanukkah!

Hanukiah, from Wikipedia

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Howard Shaffer in Debate Today 9 a.m. EST

On NHPR today, at 9  a.m. EST, Howard Shaffer will debate Ray Shadis of New England Coalition (NEC). That's a few minutes from now.

Here's a link to the NHPR announcement, and you can listen on the web by clicking on the appropriate link in the lower left hand corner.

NEC began fighting Vermont Yankee before it opened, and recently asked the Vermont Supreme Court to shut down the plant.

Update: you can now listen to the broadcast and comment on the program at the NHPR site.

Monday, December 3, 2012

The Vermont Renewable Scene: It's Awkward (for me)

On Saturday, December 1, the Vermont Energy and Climate Action Network (VECAN) held its annual conference at the Lake Morey Resort. The theme of the conference was meeting Vermont's Comprehensive Energy Plan goals of 90% renewables for all energy uses by 2050.  If you remember, the Comprehensive Energy Plant was pushed through by the Shumlin administration in 2011. I blogged about the plan extensively, for example, in the post Hurry Up. Hurry Up.  Renewables. Don't Pay Attention to the Gas Pipeline.

Talking to the Press

The day before the VECAN meeting about the renewables goal, John Gregg of the Valley News emailed me to ask if I would be willing to comment on whether the 90% goal was reasonable.  He emailed that Jon Wolper was attending the conference and writing the article.  I emailed back that of course I would be willing to comment. I have a great deal of respect for John Gregg, and I was very happy to be asked.

Actually, I didn't just say: "Yes, I'll comment." I wrote a long email to Gregg and Wolper about renewables.

The day after the meeting, on Sunday, the Jon Wolper article appeared in the Valley News: Vermont Energy Advocates at Fairlee Conference Eye 90 Percent by 2050 Goal.   It includes a quote from my email. I think it is an excellent article.

The article starts:

Fairlee — For a group of about 300 energy officials and advocates brainstorming how to accomplish a certain state plan yesterday, adjectives reigned.
They said that Vermont’s Comprehensive Energy Plan, which is meant to get the state to 90 percent renewable energy usage by 2050, was bold. It was huge. Audacious. Ambitious. Extraordinary.
Also, essential.

The article ends with the following quote from me:

“No, it is not possible by 2050,” wrote Meredith Angwin, a physical chemist, in an email. ....
“It may never be possible," she said.

I think the Valley News article was clear-eyed about the challenges.

Talking to the Ethan Allen Institute

When I'm quoted in the press, I usually send a link to various people at the Ethan Allen Institute. The Institute is the parent organization for my Energy Education Project.  Rob Roper, the new president of the Institute, emailed me after he received the link to the Valley News article.  Roper said he thought that I had probably said more than "not possible...may never be possible."  Did I give my reasons for "not possible" in the email I sent the reporters?

I assured him I had sent quite a lengthy email to the Valley News, with reasons and links and everything. I sent him a copy of the email.

In Roper's opinion, the incomplete quote in the article was used to portray me as a "negative Nellie." Roper has written a letter to the editor about my quote.

Talking to my Blog Readers

At this point, I will close the blog post with an edited version of the email that I sent to the Valley News.
  • In terms of the Valley News, I know that reporters have space constraints, and I don't feel I was quoted badly.  
  • In terms of the Ethan Allen Institute, I understand Roper's point.  
So it is up to you, dear readers, to tell me what you think of the quote and the email.

Here it is:

Hello Jon and John

Thank you for asking me for my opinion!

About 90% renewable energy...your substantive, it is not possible by 2050.  It may never BE possible, unless our "behavior modification" includes dropping our population to far less than it is now.  You see, renewable energy is pretty land-intensive, and we just can't devote that sort of land area to it and keep any type of society as we have it now.
Note: the original meeting announcement said this about the keynote speaker:

 Dr. Martenson will speak to why he believes a 90 percent renewable energy goal is now a necessity. 
"Getting to 90 percent renewable by 2050 is critical. To get there, however, will require major behavior modification by governments, corporations and individuals.."
I encourage you to look at this free book on the web...Sustainable Energy Without the Hot Air

You can download the book, or the synopsis, for free. My son-in-law, a professor of mechanical engineering at Columbia, uses this book as one of the texts for his first-level energy course.  MacKay is a professor at Cambridge and  scientific advisor to UK on climate change.  I am not recommending some off-the-wall book here.

Closer to home, you might want to interview Dr. Robert Hargraves, who has a recent self-published book on a type of new reactors (thorium reactors) which has gotten wonderful reviews by Nobel-prize winners.  Hargraves lives in Hanover.

Hargraves recently spoke in China to a very good reception by some very important people

And he gave a recent seminar at Dartmouth

Here's his book

The important thing, from your point of view, is that the first half of the Hargraves book expands on MacKay's book.  If renewables can supply what we need in the future, then we don't need thorium or any nuclear source, or really, any energy-dense source at all (coal, etc.)  Except that...renewables can't do it for a modern society. Worth reading the book or watching the first part of the Dartmouth talk.

Well, this is long enough!  I just hope it is helpful!