|Fountain of Time Sculpture, Chicago|
Photo from Wikipedia
On August 27, 2013, Entergy announced that Vermont Yankee would close at the end of its 2014 fuel cycle, basically, at the end of this year.
Two days after the announcement, I wrote a blog post Questions I Frequently Ask Myself about Vermont Yankee Closure. A few months later, in January, Entergy announced who would be laid off after fuel was offloaded (early 2015) and who would remain on for perhaps another year of decommissioning. I wrote a blog post about that, also: Paint It Black.
Time Stays, We Go
A large, beautiful and depressing sculpture stands near the University of Chicago: The Fountain Of Time, by Lorado Taft. A hundred people pass before Father Time, who stands unmoved by the procession. The sculpture is based on a poem with the repeated lines:
Time goes, you say?- ah no!
Alas, Time stays,- we go!
With that in mind, exactly what has gone on during this year?
After a fair number of insults being levied at Entergy, Entergy and state agencies reached an agreement that if Entergy paid certain amounts of money (about $40 million) and said they would move fuel into dry casks expeditiously and so forth...the state would stand WITH Entergy before the Public Service Board. The state would ask the Board to give Entergy a Certificate of Public Good (CPG) to operate through the end of this year.
And so, with millions of dollars riding on the signatures, Entergy and the state agencies signed the agreement in December 2013. With this agreement, the state would argue FOR Entergy in front of the Public Service Board.
However, the agreement would be null and void if the Public Service Board didn't adopt it by late March. And so March came, and the Public Service Board issued the CPG through the end of the year, The Board also made several snarky and unnecessary statements, claiming that if Entergy had wanted a 20-year CPG, it probably would not have received one.
(By the way, agreements happened but love didn't. People at the plant told me that Governor Shumlin has never visited the plant after the closing was announced. He never even visited Vernon.)
Entergy tax money happened: Entergy delivered its various taxes, Clean Energy Development fund money, and so forth right on the schedule from the agreement. The majority of the money went to state agencies, but $2 million dollars (for this year) was earmarked for economic development of Windham County. I really need to write a blog post about that $2 million. The agency in charge of the funds has noted that guidelines have been released (as of August 1) but there is still confusion about the process for awarding the grants and loans.
Furthermore, some people say that there aren't enough really good proposals for the money. Other people say: "Yeah, what did you expect? There's been all types of incentive programs for this area of Vermont for a long time...if there were good ideas, we probably would have heard them already."
When I write a blog post about this, it's going to be a long one!
Entergy Profits and Revenue Sharing happened: Over $17 million dollars. That's the check that Entergy wrote to Vermont utilities as "revenue sharing" according to the agreement under which it purchased the plant in 2002. My April blog post on this: Green Mountain Power Receives $17 Million in Revenue sharing
Well, that was April and this is September. Green Mountain Power (Gaz Metro) had the money, but it had to have a rate case before Public Service Board before it could do anything with the money. So it has had its rate hearing. Gaz Metro will be lowering people's electric bills with the money. But not all at once, for Pete's sake. That would be terrible! If electric bills were lowered for only one year and then popped up again, they would have to admit that the reason for the decrease was Vermont Yankee money! So Gaz Metro isn't going to do that.
Electric bills will be lowered for about three years, just a little bit each year. This will keep people from noticing (probably) the effect on their pocketbooks from Vermont Yankee's closing. Some of the recent newspaper stories mention the Entergy money, some just trumpet the rate decrease, without mentioning Entergy.
I have a number of friends at the plant, and to me, the real news is that they are announcing their new gigs on Facebook. They are going to other Entergy plants ("See you there soon!" they write each other.) They are going to non-Entergy plants ("It's going to be a great change, we LOVE the area!" they write each other.)
Vermont will stagger forward, with local non-profits fighting over the Entergy money. Most young Vermont Yankee workers are moving on.
Forward is the future. Vermont is the past.