Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Catching Up With the Diesels: Updated

A Diesel Deadline

Vermont Yankee needs new diesel generators as a safety back-up system. There will be two court hearings about this: today and tomorrow.

Basically, the Public Service Board (PSB) has been dragging their feet about granting permission to install the diesels.  Vermont Yankee must begin pouring the concrete for the diesel pad in mid-June to meet a Nuclear Regulatory Commission requirement to have the diesels in operation by mid-September.

The PSB has been seriously dragging their feet.  First the PSB took months to even set up the docket and open it (Vermont Yankee applied for the permit in August, the PSB issued a statement opening the docket in late December).  The PSB gave "intervenors" status in this matter, and plans to hold public hearings to hear what these groups have to say. (Hint to the PSB: the intervenors always say the same thing. If you want, you can ask me what they are going to say. I think I can tell you.) Recently, the hearing officer recommended that the diesel permit be granted, but the PSB did not amend the timing on its docket.

I blogged about the diesel time-line in two posts: The PSB, the Diesels and Sherlock Holmes about non-action also being action (like the famous "incident of the dog in the night-time") and A Court Case With A Deadline: The Black Start Diesels.  In that case, the deadline I was considering was Entergy's requirement to get the diesel pads ready.

Court Deadlines

Now, as the deadline approaches, two hearings are under way, today and tomorrow.

Andrew Stein of Vermont Digger has a post on these hearings: State, Entergy head to federal court Tuesday. Stein's article includes a quote from an intervenor's lawyer, Brice Jordan.  Jordan claims that since the state does not need Vermont Yankee, the diesel permit should not be granted. (Jordan also has said that he does not have to share information on hydro plants, but that was a different hearing.) In other words, in Jordan's opinion, the diesel hearings are a stand-in for the hearing on the certificate of public good for the whole plant. 

Jordan's opinion is not shared by the State Department of Public Service (DPS). The DPS makes a clear distinction between 
  • the diesel permit, which they think should be approved
  • the certificate of public good (CPG) for the plant operation, which they think should not be approved.
  In an earlier Vermont Digger article, the DPS commissioner, Chris Recchia, said: “This [the generator permit] has no relationship to the overall CPG for operation of the facility; it’s specific to the back-up generator, and we think they’ve done what they need to do."

Meanwhile, the state and Entergy are once again busy in court.  In my opinion, these court cases could have been avoided if the Public Service Board just knew how to spell "pre-empted." Court hearings are a very expensive way to learn to spell.  Yes. I'm a blogger, and I have opinions. 

Update: At the Federal Court hearing today, the state argued that Vermont Yankee didn't actually need all that time to put the diesels in place.  Meanwhile, nuclear opponents made statements implying: "Of course VY was going to get the diesels, why are we even in court about it?"

Well, let's see.  The long gap between when Entergy applied for the permit and when the PSB started working on the docket: that might be one reason they were in court.  The PSB's snarky "if Entergy is not in compliance with our earlier orders" comments: that might be another reason. I am sure you can think of more reasons.

Here's my link to John Dillon's VPR report on today's hearings.

Second Update: Andrew Stein's Vermont Digger article on the federal court hearing was just published.  It includes Cheryl Hanna's masterful description of the different possible outcomes of the diesel case before the PSB, and the implications of those outcomes for the federal hearings. Also, Hanna points out that the legal wrangling about "how many days does it take to install a diesel" isn't very relevant. Cheryl Hanna is a professor of constitutional law at Vermont Law School.   

Two links on other subjects

I was proud to be a participant in an important pod-cast on nuclear communication.  Peter Sandman Teaches Nuclear Communicators.   This was an Atomic Show podcast at Rod Adams blog, Atomic Insights.  Peter Sandman, Rod Adams, myself, Margaret Harding, and Suzy Hobbs-Baker participated. I expect to blog about this in a few days. 

I also recommend the 159th Carnival of Nuclear Energy at Next Big Future. Great posts, including updates from Japan and China, and an apology from a nuclear opponent for factual errors. This may be the first time in history such a thing has happened. Read about it!

1 comment:

Travelogue for the Universe said...

Amazing. Thanks for the recap.Have a great week.Mary