|Viking Longship Reconstruction|
On ANS Nuclear Cafe today, I have posted a history of the extortion against Vermont Yankee, and some advice for the nuclear industry going forward:
Millions for education, but not one cent for tribute.
Vermont Yankee made certain agreements with the Vermont Public Service Board. They made these agreements in order to get permission to run their plant and upgrade their equipment. These agreements were straight extortion.
According to these agreements, Vermont Yankee paid for cleaning up Lake Champlain (it's the other side of the state from the power plant) and for wind turbines. In other words, in order to keep operating, Entergy paid for pet projects of the legislature and Public Service Board.
But to save money, Entergy closed the visitor center.
Keep the Visitor Center, Lose the Extortion
In my opinion, this was a backward strategy. The visitor center was important. The money for legislative-pet-projects was counter-productive.
I suggest nuclear plants should fund outreach (visitor centers and more). They should fund their lawyers, when necessary. They shouldn't give in to extortion and to paying Dane-geld. Paying off the Vikings doesn't work.
Rudyard Kipling has a memorable poem about Dane-geld. It explains why trying to pay off the Vikings is a bad idea. "Once you have paid him the Dane-geld, you never get rid of the Dane." The extortionists will certainly come back later, for more money.
Deliver the Public Service Board From Temptation
The Kipling poem includes some surprising advice. It suggests you should save the Vikings from
"It is wrong to put temptation in the path of any nation,
For fear they should succumb and go astray;"
John McClaughry of the Ethan Allen Institute wrote about this shake-down back in 2005, though he called it the extortion "simony" instead of "dane-geld." In that article, McClaughry quotes the state auditor, who also wants to protect the Public Service Board from itself:
In November 2003, in return for Public Service Department support for a reactor power uprate, Entergy agreed to pay $7.8 million to cleanup algae in Lake Champlain, 180 miles away, plus $2.1 million to subsidize low income home heating. The deal was criticized not only by the anti-nuclear activists, but also by state Auditor Elizabeth Ready: “(Vermonters) health and safety could be placed at risk if utility regulation is allowed to become a pay-to-play endeavor, fueled by extracting millions from applicants for pet projects in order to get the Public Service Department’s stamp of approval.”
In other words, this sort of thing is just too tempting for the Danes and for the Public Service Board.
Instead of giving money to clean up Lake Champlain, or whatever pet project the Public Service Board requires, nuclear plants should spend money on outreach. And, if necessary, on lawyers.
Kipling and State Auditor Ready would agree: Do not put temptation in the path of any nation...or any Public Service Board.
I am sorry. I cannot easily find a link to McClaughry's 2005 Commentary: "New State Revenue Technique: Simony."
John McClaughry is the founder of the Ethan Allen Institute. The Energy Education Project is part of that Institute, and I am the director of the Energy Education Project.