Monday, December 23, 2013

Updated: Breaking News: State and Vermont Yankee Make a Deal

The Deal

The State and Vermont Yankee have a deal about closing Vermont Yankee, announced this afternoon. I have read the breaking news report at WPTZ, and watched Shumlin's press conference as described in  Vermont Digger and embedded below.  Thank you to Digger for posting the conference so quickly!

The deal seems to have hard-edged parts (yes, I understand what's happening) and soft-edged parts (hmmm, open to interpretation here).  I share my opinions below, but I also share the press conference video, so you can form your own opinions.

Hard-edged parts of the deal:
  1. Entergy will file a decommissioning plan with the NRC in about a year, although it can legally take up to four years to do so. This plan will include an estimate of the total costs of decommissioning.
  2. Entergy will pay $2 million dollars a year for the next five years, some of which will go into the Clean Energy Development fund, and some of which will go into helping displaced workers in Windham County (or at least, something about Windham County--unclear).
  3. Entergy will put another $25 million dollars into the decommissioning fund.
  4. Entergy will attempt (it can't promise) to move all fuel into dry casks within about seven years. 
  5. When the money in the decommissioning fund has grown to the level needed for decommissioning (see #1 above), Entergy will start decommissioning activities within three months. It will not just keep the plant in SAFSTOR for sixty years or so.
  6. The state and Entergy drop all lawsuits against each other.
Update: According to the Brattleboro Reformer, "lawsuits are over" does not apply to the generation tax lawsuit which will be heard in Vermont Supreme Court.

Second Update: An article in my local paper seems to have a different take on the generation tax--that Entergy will pay the tax-to-date and the state won't expect the tax going forward?  I am sorry, but we will have to wait till after the holidays to get this straight.  Here is the article, originally from the Rutland Herald, but it may be behind a paywall.

Soft-edged parts of the deal:
  1. Entergy agrees that it will "Greenfield" the plant. Actually, Entergy agreed to this in the memorandum of understanding when it bought the plant in 2002. "Greenfielding" means site remediation beyond what the NRC requires for decommissioning.  However, what does greenfielding mean in practice?  Level and reseed the ground? Entergy had always agreed to do that.  Or  does it mean "dig up every foundation to a depth of 40 feet, at great trouble and expense"? Entergy has never agreed to that.
  2. Who is agreeing here? I mean, I think it is great to see Governor Shumlin up there explaining the deal, but what about the PSB? Will they be willing to agree to this?  Will they be annoyed that their quasi-judicial process isn't processing?
  3. Who is not-suing here?  I can practically hear the howls of "Shumlin betrayed us" from the intervenors.  I suspect more lawsuits will come from that direction.
  4. Did the state promise "no clever new taxes on the plant or fuel"?  If they did, I didn't see it in the press conference.  
My Current Opinion:

It seems to me a good-enough agreement.
  1. Entergy didn't promise anything it can't perform (such as promising to decommission within ten years or something like that).  
  2. Entergy supplied enough Danegeld to allow Shumlin to tell his supporters he made a great deal for the people of Vermont, so he doesn't lose face and he may abide by the agreement.  
  3. But Entergy didn't provide too much Danegeld.  After all, the state wanted $12 million a year to make up for the generation tax, though they knew they couldn't actually obtain that amount.
I am sure we will hear more about this, and I bet some intervenors are getting their legal briefs ready, even as I post this.

Meanwhile, the press conference that announced the deal:

1 comment:

Mitch said...

Entergy will pay $2 million dollars a year for the next five years, some of which will go into the Clean Energy Development fund

Thought they were already producing clean energy!