Saturday, November 29, 2014

Update! Send Your Comment to the EPA! Here's Mine.

UPDATE:  Today, December 1, you can still comment on the  EPA rule which gives nuclear power credit for only 6% of the carbon that a nuclear plant mitigates.  

Here's my blog post on the rule: Support Nuclear This Weekend

But more important, here's the link to the American Nuclear Society page about the rule. This page includes explanations and a link to the EPA comment page.
Here's a direct link to the EPA instead, if you prefer

Below is the comment I sent in.  It's not a perfect comment, but I will say that it meets some of the criteria for a good comment: it includes my name and address, and it is unique to my situation.  Looking at it today, however, it seems a bit wordy.

Write your own comment!  Make it briefer than mine!

My name is Meredith Joan Angwin. I live in Wilder Vermont. I blog at Yes Vermont Yankee and I am a member the American Nuclear Society.

I want to say that the way the carbon pollution regulations are written now, when Vermont Yankee closes, IF it were to be replaced with gas from Canada supplying a natural-gas fired unit....the rules would say that the carbon dioxide emissions from Vermont would go DOWN, when the actual emissions would go UP.

Now, I am well aware the Vermont doesn't fall under these rules, because we basically only have Vermont Yankee, some hydro and some biomass in-state. So we didn't have to come up with a mitigation plan. However, these rules are backwards. You give nuclear (either existing or being built) credit for about 6% of its emissions reductions. However, any plant (coal or nuclear) that is replaced with a natural gas plant is part of the state's mitigation strategy.

Replacing coal with gas lowers the state's greenhouse gas emissions, replacing nuclear with gas raises the emissions, but it's all the same to the rules as they are formulated now.

I know that people love natural gas plants. "Clean natural gas, lower carbon than coal." But I am on the Coordinating Committee for the ISO-NE (grid operator) Consumer Liaison group, supposed to be the "voice of the consumer" advising the grid operator. I want you to know that consumers suffer when the grid does not have a diversity of supply. In the Northeast, massive price rises of electricity (25%, 40%) are happening this winter, because there's a winter supply crunch on natural gas.

The grid needs diversity so that the lights will stay on even if one type of fuel is unavailable. Yet your current rules would force the grid into renewables-with-natural-gas-backup. Even with different types of renewables, that is NOT diversity. Are you aware that the capacity value for wind in the Northeast is only about 13%? (I've heard lower values at seminars, but I'm going with a EIA report here. The capacity factor for wind in the Northeast is about 25%--that is, the wind blows enough to turn the turbines about 25% of the time. But the grid operators must look at whether the wind will be available when it is needed. That's the capacity value.

Basically, if you don't give nuclear more credit, the grid will inevitably go to renewables for reducing greenhouse gas emissions (but they will have with low capacity values). Then natural gas, with greenhouse gas emissions, will make the inevitable difference. In other words, there will be a nationwide grid that, like the Northeast, is overly dependent on natural gas, with all the price and supply problems that entails.

Originally, I worked in renewables. I was a project manager at the Electric Power Research Institute and I wanted renewables to do it all. Then, painfully, I realized they couldn't. Since I had already worked on the extremely difficult problem of lowering NOx emissions from fossil fuels, I gradually came to realize the virtues of nuclear power. Now I am devoted to it as a substitute for coal. Nuclear power PLUS renewables PLUS some natural gas will help with climate change. But if you don't give nuclear more credit in your calculations, the entire U S grid will be in the same shape as the Northeast grid. Overdependent on natural gas.

And that's not good. Give nuclear plants 100% of the credit for the greenhouse emissions they avoid. It's only fair, after all. I don't know how you got this 6% solution for nuclear, but its wrong. Luckily, there is still time to fix the problem!

Meredith Angwin

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Support Nuclear This Weekend. Email the EPA by Sunday!

Analysis of Ohio Carbon Dioxide Emissions
From American Nuclear Society (ANS) Webinar
November 26, 2013

The EPA and the Carbon Rules: It Situation Is Worse Than I Thought
But You Can Do Something About It

The Situation Is Worse Than I Thought

Several months ago, the Environmental Protection Agency issued its rules for cutting down carbon emissions from the utility sector.  The rules were complex and differed wildly, state by state.  States that used a lot of coal were required to cut back their carbon emissions by relatively small amounts.  I blogged about this backwards rule-making in my post: Exporting Our Carbon Problems: The EPA Takes a Flawed, State-by-State Approach to Greenhouse Gas Policy.


The situation is much worse than I thought.  Through some convoluted process, the EPA gives states with nuclear power plants credit for only 5.8% of the carbon dioxide avoided by the presence of the nuclear plants. This is true for existing nuclear plants, nuclear plants under construction, etc.  If you substitute gas-fired for coal, you get 100% credit for the avoided carbon.  If you substitute nuclear for coal, you get credit for 5.8% of the avoided carbon!  As a matter of fact, if  you substitute a gas-powered plant for a nuclear plant, your state emissions look better according to the EPA.

Ohio: The Example of the EPA Calculation

Let's look at the example above, from today's American Nuclear Society Webinar.  If we actually calculate the Ohio electricity sector carbon intensity, it is  1201 lbs CO2 per MWh. (That's the column called "100% nuclear"....that is, 100% credit for nuclear.)  If we use the EPA rule of 5.8% credit for nuclear, the carbon intensity is 1338 lbs CO2 per MWh.

Okay, now look at the last column. If Ohio's nuclear plants were closed and new gas-turbine plants erected instead, then (by EPA rules) Ohio's carbon intensity would be 1306 lbs CO2 per MWh. The new gas turbines would yield an improvement compared to the EPA's earlier calculation of 1338 lbs.  

Of course, the actual carbon intensity, without the weird EPA calculations, would go up from 1201 lbs/MWh to 1306 lbs/MWh if the nuclear plants went away.

But we're talking about a regulatory agency here, folks. The question is: Is the EPA going to keep this crazy anti-nuclear rule?

You can do something about this!  Do it!

 The comment period on this rule closes on Monday.  It is open this weekend, and many anti-nuclear groups are really hitting hard at the comments.  However, you can comment also.  You SHOULD comment also.

The American Nuclear Society has an excellent page about this rule.  Here's the link to the page, and the page includes a link to the comment page.

Here's a direct link to the EPA instead, if you prefer

As the ANS page explains, comments can be very simple. The two points are just what you would expect. Encourage the EPA to:

1) Treat existing plants equally by including 100% of nuclear current output in the baseline CO2 calculation.
2) Allow states with new plants under construction to count the new clean energy generation toward their EPA emissions target.

A Note About Your Note 

The EPA will read the emails, but they pay far less attention to cookie cutter or anonymous comments.
Put your name on your comment, and make it as personal as you can.  Say why YOU think nuclear generation has to be given more credit.  Do you think it is because we need a level playing field, because your grandfather was a coal miner, because nuclear is the future, because nuclear is a very important clean air option?  Just a sentence or two, so it is not cookie-cutter.

Do it this weekend.

EPA is about to bust the best source of clean air electricity in this country.  This is more important than the doorbusters at your local mall.

Write the EPA this weekend!

Have a great happy Thanksgiving...and write the EPA!


For those who want more information. Some blog posts:

Environmental Protection Agency's Clean Power Plan, by Nicholas Thompson at Nuclear Undone blog.  Includes quotes from NRDC (an organization opposed to nuclear energy) on how this organization shaped the new rule, working with the EPA. According to the NRDC, there was a danger (oh the horror!) that if nuclear were included, states with nuclear plants wouldn't be able to meet their targets if the nuclear plants were closed. Giving nuclear plants only 5.8% credit for their emissions reductions helped the NRDC achieve its goals.

The Details of the Clean Power Plan: So You Want to See the Numbers by Nicholas Thompson at ANS Nuclear Cafe blog.  The numbers.  A far more complete story than my explanation of Ohio emissions, but basically, the same story.

(Yes, I have already submitted a comment.  Maybe I will put it up here as a blog post later this weekend.)

Monday, November 24, 2014

UPDATED: Nuclear Energy Blog Carnival 236: Here at Yes Vermont Yankee

Once again, we are proud to host the Carnival of Nuclear Energy Bloggers, right here at Yes Vermont Yankee.  The Carnival is a compendium of nuclear blogs that rotates from blog site to blog site, and it is always a pleasure and an honor to host it.  Here we go!

At Fukushima, Radiation Decreases in Turbine Building Basements
From the Hiroshima Syndrome's Fukushima Commentary - Leslie Corrice
The Japanese Press routinely reports on sudden increases in wastewater radioactivity at F. Daiichi. However, they fail to report on what is going right. For at least a year, the activity levels in the turbine basements of units #1-4 have been steadily dropping. This is definitely a success story, but it does not seem newsworthy enough for the Japanese Press.

Yucca Post-Closure Safety Report Finally Released
From ANS Nuclear Cafe - Jim Hopf 
 Jim Hopf details the recent release of the Safety Evaluation Report on Yucca, what it means, and more importantly what's likely to be done and not likely to be done as a result of it.  Nuclear waste is an entity we're prepared to deal with, Hopf argues, and for that reason Yucca should be opened and utilized to satisfy the Federal Government's legal obligation to take spent fuel from nuclear plant sites. 

Time for a Battle and an Update on Radiation Risk
Atomic Insights - Rod Adams
An epic struggle with important health, safety, cost and energy abundance implications is shaping up with regard to the way that the officially sanctioned science and regulatory bodies treat the risks and benefits associated with using ionizing radiation at low doses and dose rates for medical uses, industrial uses and power production.
We must make sure that this battle for science, hearts and minds is not as asymmetrical as the one fought in the period between 1954-1964. During that battle, a very interested Rockefeller Foundation provided the funding and numerous key influencers during a successful campaign to firmly establish the myth that radiation is dangerous even at the lowest possible doses.

More Battles: The Supposed "Clean Power Plan"
Carbon Dioxide
From ANS Nuclear Cafe - Nicholas Thompson
Nick Thompson gives the details you need to know about the EPA Clean Power proposal, and why it's not the boon for nuclear energy some have lauded it as.  Includes background links for more information.  Includes links for submitting YOUR comments on the plan this weekend. Comments due by December 1!

Vermont Yankee: Consequences of a Battle We Lost
From NEI Nuclear Notes - Meredith Angwin
Meredith Angwin documents the spreading pain of Vermont Yankee's closing--starting with the plant employees who will be laid off, and pain propagating through the local towns, on to the grid, and up to the state level. Her post, at NEI Nuclear Notes, is part of an NEI report on closing the plant, a report that includes the effect of the plant closing on New England's energy crisis and on the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative.  The full report: Closing Vermont Yankee: Carbon, Market Impacts of Closing the Vermont Yankee Plant.

Existing power plants
at Hinkley Point
Finances and Risk in Europe
Neutron Bytes - Dan Yurman
The financial future of the French state-owned nuclear giant has become less certain and some worry it may threaten the viability of the UK’s Hinkley Point 3200 MW new nuclear build.

A Nuclear Opponent and His Lack of Credibility
Northwest Clean Energy - Meredith Angwin
Why Do They Listen to Alvarez?
At the Northwest Clean Energy blog, Meredith Angwin notes that Robert Alvarez has now written a report about Columbia Generating Station. This report rehashes the testimony he gave in Vermont about Vermont Yankee in 2013.  She reviews his qualifications and his report and asks: Why Do They Listen to Alvarez?

Safety Culture Everywhere
Graphic from Wikipedia
Nuke Power Talk - Gail Marcus
Trains and Boats and Planes...and Nuclear Power Plants
Gail Marcus writes at Nuke Power Talk about her presentation on safety culture at a meeting in Chicago, and her subsequent experience with a failure of safety culture. Yes, on her way home from the meeting, she had a first-hand experience with a safety culture failure.  (Gail...did you ever find out how the plane's wing hit a barbed wire fence?)  All's well that ends well, but her trip home pointed out how important safety culture is, whether on trains, boats, planes or in nuclear power plants.

Monazite (thorium mineral)

Nuclear Power and Noah's Ark
Energy Reality Project - Rick Maltese
Noah Nuke Advocate
Rick Maltese's parable begs the question: Will we wake up to the reality in time? Obviously the warnings were there for Noah but when will we know? We know what we've been doing wrong but do not know how to change. Time to act. Alone or collectively.

Fundraiser: Crowd Funding for a Pro-Nuclear Presence at AGU
ThoriumMSR - Rick Maltese
Renewed efforts to spread the word about MSRs bigger than ever
Rick Maltese plans to go to the annual AGU (American Geophysical Union) Conference.  Approximately 24,000 scientists and policymakers come to this conference in San Francisco, which runs from Monday December 15 to Friday December 19. Rick will be representing the Thorium Energy Alliance of Silicon Valley (TESV), and his own Energy Reality Project.   Join him at TESV booth 2617: this booth sits directly across of the booth of the Union of Concerned Scientists.  Contribute to crowdfunding Maltese's important effort.

Nuclear Good News on New Builds
Next Big Future - Brian Wang
Brian Wang reports on new builds, commissioning tests and more in South Korea, Vietnam, China and Russia.

China's 2020 Energy Plans
Next Big Future - Brian Wang
Brian Wang reviews China's plan for its energy mix by 2020.  This includes deepwater oil drilling, reducing coal use to 62% of electricity generation, and considerable new nuclear coming on-line.  According to Chinese planning documents, fast reactors will be an important part of the energy mix in the future.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Meeting about Decomm and Important Posts about Closing Vermont Yankee

Marlboro College
Graduate School Building
graphic from Wikipedia
The Meeting and the Comments

Yesterday, I posted about ways to comment about Vermont Yankee's decommissioning plans. The comment period is only open until Tuesday.

Tonight, there is a meeting in Brattleboro of the Vermont Nuclear Decommissioning Citizen Advisory Panel (NDCAP).  The meeting starts at 6 p.m. at Marlboro College on Vernon Street.  Here's a link to the agenda. Regrettably, I still have a rather bad cold, and I will not be attending.

Did I say "regrettably"? Hmm....I try to be more honest than that!  These meetings can be very hard to attend because the nuclear opponents tend to dominate the conversation.  However, I have heard that this NDCAP meetings have been far more civilized than the earlier VSNAP meetings.  I encourage people to attend and support Vermont Yankee's continued operation and careful closing.

The 165 Layoffs and the Pain

As Vermont Digger posted yesterday, Entergy has announced that 165 Vermont Yankee workers will be laid off on January 19. According to an Entergy press release, 69 of these workers live in Vermont, 48 live in New Hampshire and 39 live in Massachusetts.  (I linked to the Digger article rather than the press release because you can comment on the Digger article.)

Evan Twarog at the left
Speaking at Rotary Day  at the U N
Today, I have a guest blog post at NEI Nuclear Notes about the spreading pain of Vermont Yankee closing. I attempt to cover layoffs, taxes, the grid, and my opinion that the Entergy payments for Windham County development won't help Vermont Yankee employees that much. I hope you read it and comment on it.  Pain from Vermont Yankee Closing Spreads Far and Wide.

Evan Twarog about the pain on the grid

Evan Twarog, the son of a Vermont Yankee employee, is now a blogger at Atomic Insights.  Today he has a very well-researched and thoughtful post about the price rises on the grid.  Power in New England: Why are Prices Increasing So Rapidly?  As usual, at Atomic Insights, the comment stream is also worth reading.

Those of you who follow this blog may remember that Twarog has been a frequent guest blogger, and was a summer intern at the Ethan Allen Institute Energy Education Project, two summers ago.

NEI Report on Vermont Yankee

This week, the Nuclear Energy Institute has written an excellent multi-faceted report on Vermont Yankee.  My blog post (linked above) was the final step in this report.  I encourage you to read the entire report, bookmark it, and use it!

Blog posts:

Closing Vermont Yankee, and All That It Means (overview and market problems)
Vermont Yankee and the Looming Energy Crisis (the energy market shortfalls)
Vermont Yankee and All That It Does Not Produce (effect of closing on the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative)
Pain From Vermont Yankee Closing Spreads Far and Wide  (my post, referenced above)

The report itself (Permanent at the NEI site, not blog posts):

Closing Vermont Yankee (overview and links to other pages, including great links about the energy markets, nationwide)
Nuclear Plant Shutdowns Reveal Market Problems
New England's Looming Energy Crisis
Vermont Yankee Closing Will Challenge Region's Emission Goals

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Opportunity Right Now to Comment on Decommissioning Plan

Time is Short!

In its agreement with the state of Vermont, Entergy promised to prepare several documents outlining decommissioning plans and costs.  Of course, it prepared the documents in a very timely fashion.

The best opportunity to comment on these documents is between now and Tuesday of next week. What's the hurry?  Well, the Bennington Banner explains it:

"Public comments on the draft PSDAR received by Nov. 25 will be considered for inclusion with the Public Service Department’s comments that will be provided to Entergy for incorporation with its PSDAR submittal to the United States Nuclear Regulatory Commission."

The Documents

You can find the links to the documents on the Entergy VYDecommissioning Document Library Page.  The two documents that are most relevant are the Site Assessment Study, and Appendix C: Draft Post Shutdown Decommissioning Activities Report .   Oh right....  I need to tell you that Appendix C is the PSDAR referred to above (Post Shutdown Decommissioning Activities Report). The Site Assessment Study is the SAS, of course.

I hope you will comment.

Comment on what?

Well, yes. What to say? We are talking about two rather dry documents, each about 50 pages each. Reading the documents would be best used as a way to fall asleep without a lullaby or a glass of brandy (depending on your age).  Luckily, however, your comment does not have to be as long as the document.  I have three suggestions for commenting on the PSDAR:

1) The fuel pool:
Not actually in the PSDAR, but the opponents will insist that storing the used fuel rods in the spent fuel pool is very dangerous and the plant must keep all warning and safety and emergency response measures in place. They will claim that all emergency systems must be fully staffed and tested for the entire emergency planning zone, and they must be in place until all fuel rods are removed from the fuel pool after five years.  However, Entergy has calculated the residual heat in the fuel pool and the various accident scenarios, and Entergy plans to shrink the 10-mile planning zone to the plant fence line after about a year. After about a year, the fuel is cool enough for this change.

Opponents oppose this, of course, and Vermont Senator Sanders is particularly incensed at the idea of shrinking the emergency zone.  He seems to think that fuel pools are infinitely dangerous. Meanwhile, at  Fukushima, with fresh fuel in fuel pool 4 and the roof falling in, just about the worst-case-scenario you can imagine....nothing happened.  No melting, no fires, and all the used fuel rods have been removed successfully.

Bottom line: You might want to write a note saying the fuel pool at Fukushima 4 was okay, and the fuel pool at Vermont Yankee will be fine, too.

2) GEIS:
The PSDAR refers many times to the General Environmental Impact Statement (GEIS) issued by NRC about decommissioning. The PSDAR explains how the Vermont Yankee decomm process is governed by that document.  The opponents will undoubtedly attack the GEIS and also attack the idea that Vermont Yankee's situation is covered by the GEIS.  Meanwhile, the PSDAR has elaborate and (sleep-inducing) descriptions of the various parts of the GEIS.

Bottom line: You might want to write a note saying how you found the GEIS to be more comprehensive than you expected (too much information!) and it will be a good guide to the decommissioning process.

3) Timing:
Oh baby. This is a big one.  On page 21 of the PSDAR  there's a time-line for decommissioning.  As Entergy promised, the first part of the decomm (removal of fuel from the fuel pool and into dry casks) goes as fast as possible.  This phase ends in 2021.  But then, the plant is in SAFSTOR as the radiation gets less and the trust fund grows.

In the table on page 21, Decomm is shown as complete in 2073. Site restoration is complete in 2075. It is 59 years (just shy of the 60 allowed by the NRC) between plant shutdown and license termination.  Governor Shumlin initially believed that SAFSTOR was not even allowed in Vermont. You can see chilling footage of Shumlin's statements in my blog post: In Vermont, Our Word is Our Bond, So We Don't Honor Contracts.

Despite Shumlin's odd ideas, SAFSTOR is allowed in Entergy's agreement with Vermont, and it is allowed by the NRC, and Entergy can choose it.

Bottom line: You might want to write something saying acknowledging that SAFSTOR is not the choice that many people in Vermont would have liked, but it is legal and allowed by contract. It is also  safer for the workers and the community allow radiation time to diminish before dis-assembling a plant.

Submitting your remarks:

IMHO, the State of Vermont is not making it easy to make comments. However, you can submit them.  To quote the Bennington Banner again:

Written comments may be mailed electronically to the State Nuclear Engineer at : Please include “PSDAR/SAS Comments” in the email subject line. Written comments may also be mailed to the Public Service Department at Vermont Public Service Department, ATTN: PSDAR/SAS Comments, 112 State Street — Drawer 20, Montpelier, VT 05620-2601.

To facilitate the ease of compiling all comments received, please consider emailing comments as an attached MSWord or PDF document. When sending comments via US Mail, please consider using a Compact Disk and either MSWord or PDF format.


It's all part of the Entergy agreement with the state.  Entergy agreed to consider feedback from state agencies before submitting its documents to the NRC.  The Department of Public Service decided to take comments from the public.  And here we are, commenting...

To quote Chris Campany of the Windham Regional Commission (as quoted by Olga Peters in The Commons)

According to Campany, he asked the DPS to actively seek public comment.
“This is all voluntary on Entergy’s part,” he said of Entergy sending its draft reports to the state agencies for feedback.....
Ultimately, what appears in the PSDAR is “Entergy’s prerogative,” said Campany. “This is not a PSB process.”

Monday, November 10, 2014

Energy and the Vermont Election

Recently, I was asked my opinion about how the Vermont election results would (or would not ) change Vermont Energy policy. I wrote a lengthy email, which has now morphed into this blog post.

Bottom line: despite Governor Shumlin's squeaker (probable) victory, not much will change,

Scott Milne
The election

Over here in Vermont, we don't actually have a newly-elected governor.  The race was very tight, and in these cases, our constitution says that the legislature votes for Governor.  Governor Shumlin had a razor-thin margin over Republican challenger Scott Milne, but the legislature will decide.  If the Libertarian vote was combined with the Republican vote, Shumlin would have lost, but that is not very relevant.  Governor Shumlin says he is "personally humbled" by the election results.

Our legislature will decide.  Despite gains by the Republicans, our legislature has a heavy majority of Democratic/Progressive members, and so we can assume that our current Governor, Governor Shumlin, will be re-elected when the legislature convenes in January. Milne has not conceded victory.

In other words, Vermont's energy policy is unlikely to change very much on the basis of this election. The majority leader of the Vermont House is resigning, but I doubt if any relevant committee chairs will change.

The gas pipeline

The Governor (and others of his party) must be aware that he lost votes by supporting the Addison gas pipeline extension.  That awareness probably will not stop the pipeline, but it may affect Vermont energy policy going forward.  Also, Green Mountain Power is buying a great deal of its power from the grid, and its Hydro-Quebec contracts are "market-follow."  So I expect electricity price rises in Vermont, starting in January.  However, this has nothing to do with the elections: the purchase agreements are already in place.

The Governor's race in Vermont was very tight, but we can expect Governor Shumlin to be re-elected by the legislature when it comes into session in January.  (Such an election is required by Vermont's constitution in situations where neither candidate has over 50% of the votes.) This means that Vermont energy policy is unlikely to change very much.  However, Shumlin supported the Addison gas pipeline extension.  His tight race may have taught local politicians that if they support gas pipeline extensions,  they themselves will lose supporters.  This could have an effect on Vermont energy policy in the future.

Many pundits seem to agree, however, that energy policy was not the deciding factor in this election.  Issues included that Governor Shumlin never explained how he was going to fund Single Payer health care. Also, his attempt to buy land super-cheap from an impoverished neighbor led to doubts about his personal integrity.


Governor Shumlin
Other factors, not dependent on this election, will have the major effects on Vermont electricity

Vermont Yankee will close down in December, and it produces about 70% of the electricity that is produced within the state.  This may affect Vermont power costs or reliability. Even though Vermont utilities did not explicitly purchase Vermont Yankee power, the power was very available on the local grid and was part of the  "grid power" that they bought.   Now much more power will have to be imported.

Vermont utilities have some PPA power, such as 60 MW fixed-price Seabrook power. However, much of their power (market purchased power, Hydro-Quebec "market--follow" contracts) follow the prices on the grid. Therefore, in general, we can expect Vermont electricity prices to rise and be closer to parity with the prices of other New England states.

Also, some New England states no longer buy RECs (renewable energy certificates) from Vermont. Inability to sell RECs may accelerate Vermont's electricity price rise, because less out-of-state money will be flowing to our local utilities.

In short, the election itself will have few immediate effects.  Yet we can expect long-reaching changes  to electricity costs in Vermont.

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Entergy Conference Call: Vermont Yankee is a well-run plant!

A few days ago, Entergy announced its third-quarter earnings and The Street published a transcript of its earnings-report conference call.  The transcript is quite long.  I decided to use some quotes from it as my blog post.

My conclusion: Vermont Yankee employees can be VERY proud of the operation of this plant!

In the quotes below, the speaker is Leo Denault, Chairman and CEO of Entergy. I have made some additions for clarity: additions are in parentheses. Material in bold was also added by the blogger.


Vermont Yankee running very well, breaker to breaker

At Entergy Wholesale Commodities operational performance was once again strong. As I noted earlier, our plants ran well. For example, the extended outage at FitzPatrick came in below the shorter end of our expectations and at VY our employees have kept the plant running for nearly 600 consecutive days now. Remarkably they are on their fourth breaker to breaker run.

But in fact all of our EWC plants play important roles in their respective regions and communities.....

About the plant closure

Let me now turn to Vermont Yankee since I know a lot of you will have questions about its closure. As you may know, in September the plant began its coast down to permanent shutdown which will occur at the end of the year. Last month, as we said we would, Entergy delivered a first of its kind site assessment study to the state of Vermont.....

Using conservative estimates about the growth of the (decommissioning) trust we think it will have enough money to begin such (major) activities in the next 25 to 35 years. At this point we don't expect to add funds into the trust to meet NRC financial assurance requirements.

A tough decision, but the economics were bad

The decision to close the plant was tough. It came with certain risks and challenges. But we planned to meet and manage these challenges thoughtfully which I think we have.

For example, we obtained an order from the Vermont Public Service Board authorizing VY to operate through the end of the fourth quarter. We targeted elimination of overhead associated with the plant and replaced the majority of Vermont Yankee employees wanting to stay with the company in new roles. It is worth reiterating that this was the right decision.

First, we now see an incremental benefit of shutdown versus continued operation of an additional $50 million through 2017. And second, despite the upturn in forward power prices in New England over the past year, economics for VY would still not be sustainable in the long run.

One reason why Pilgrim is different: Capacity Markets

Forward capacity market improvement, through the newly defined constrained zone that spans southeastern Massachusetts and Rhode Island, is improving the revenue outlook at Pilgrim and RISEC, but VY would not have benefited from this new capacity zone.

Monday, November 3, 2014

New Blogs and Bloggers, including Evan Twarog (of Vermont Yankee)

I am pleased to welcome new bloggers, and thank another blogger for welcoming a new blog. Then I welcome another new blog. Then I notice a blog I left behind by mistake. Next, I welcome a non-blog.

In other words, it's time to wrap myself in knots keeping up with the nuclear blogosphere!

Evan Twarog blogs at Atomic Insights

At the U.N.
Evan Twarog, Rotary International
President Gary C.K. Huang,
Antonio DiSilva
Let's start close to home.  Evan Twarog is now blogging at Atomic Insights.  Rod Adams of Atomic Insights welcomes Evan with a thoughtful post: Another blogger for Nuclear Energy: Evan Twarog. Evan is the son of John and Cheryl Twarog: John is a shift manager at Vermont Yankee.

Twarog has been a frequent guest blogger at Yes Vermont Yankee. He participated in rallies for the plant, testified before the Public Service Board, and wrote letters to the editor.  Twarog also worked as a summer intern at the Ethan Allen Institute in 2013. He helped with the email program, and he worked on a project model of the electric grid (along with engineer Richard Schmidt). More recently, Twarog won a prestigious competitive scholarship to Renssellear Polytechnic Institute, and won a Rotary Global essay competition. As a result of the Rotary competition, Twarog visited India and recently spoke at the United Nations.

Now Twarog will be blogging at Atomic Insights.  Welcome, Evan Twarog!

Atomic Insights Welcomes Energy Northwest Blog

Rod Adams also welcomed Energy Northwest's new blog, Northwest Clean Energy.  Since I am the lead blogger at that blog, this is another chance for me to say: Thank you, Rod!  Thanks for giving Evan Twarog a great platform, and thanks for welcoming Energy Northwest's blog.

New Blog: Nuclear Defender

I want to welcome a very new blog: Nuclear Defender.  You can't help loving a blog showing two cooling towers near a containment dome (looks kind of like a crown) with the motto: "Keep Calm and Use Nuclear."  So far, the blog has only one post:The Big Bad Becquerel. This post describes what a becquerel is, how tiny it is, and why nuclear opponents love to reference becquerels. Everything looks becquerels! Nuclear Defender reviews an article about leakage at Fukushima and all those becquerels.

Sigh.  It reminds me of my early blogging days, when tritium was always described in the Vermont press in "picocuries" (a trillionth of a curie).  Picocuries, Becquerels.  Very big numbers....for very small quantities.

I look forward to more posts from Nuclear Defender.

Just Found the Blog: CASEnergy Coalition

Christine Todd Whitman
Well, I knew about CASEnergy Coalition (Clean and Safe Energy Coalition) and have used their reference material, such as Economic Benefits of Nuclear Energy.  CASEnergy is led by some pretty heavy hitters, such as Governor Christine Todd Whitman (former Governor of New Jersey and former EPA administrator). But I didn't know CASEnergy had a blog. Yes, they do.  The blog is Clean Energy Buzz, and the archives go back to January 2014.

Yeah. My face is red, especially since Yes Vermont Yankee is on the CASEnergy blog roll.  At any rate, I just added Clean Energy Buzz to my blogroll. A belated welcome to Clean Energy Buzz!

I encourage you to read their latest post, a clear and informative Halloween look at Who You Gonna Call? Nuclear Energy Mythbusters.

There Isn't Actually A Blog: Energy For Humanity

A group of environmentalists have gathered together to start a new website and group: Energy For Humanity.  The founders are Pandora's Promise director Robert Stone, environmental campaigner Kirsty Gogan, and philanthropist Daniel Aegerter. They have no corporate backing, and this group hopes to continue the network and momentum started with the documentary Pandora's Promise.

They have a great website, well worth exploring.  However, they don't have a linkable blog, or at least, I don't see one.  Still, I urge you to visit Energy for Humanity.

I love to hear all these new voices!  All are worth a visit!