Tag Archives: Entergy

Another batch of lies from the Koch factory

The black sheep of Vermont’s journalism family, Vermont Watchdog, took a short break from its incessant anti-renewable campaign and pooped out a single-source article alleging that Vermont is a fiscal disaster.

A new report from a government accounting watchdog group finds that Vermont has a debt of $3.9 billion, despite claims of having a balanced budget.

The Financial State of the States 2015 report, released this month by Chicago-based Truth in Accounting, debunks the myth that states balance their budgets.

Okay, first of all, any “accounting” group that doesn’t know the difference between a balanced budget and long-term indebtedness ought to be drummed out of the bean-counter fraternity. Every large entity, government or private sector, carries a certain amount of debt on its books. Routine.

So, who are these incompetent clowns at “Truth in Accounting”?

Three guesses, and the first two don’t count.

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Yankee no longer produces power, but it’s still cranking out bad PR

If anyone needed a reminder why Entergy wore out its welcome in Vermont, well, we just got another one. The corporation has decided to outsource Vermont Yankee’s security four years earlier than planned, in a move expected to save “millions of dollars.”

But that’s not the “bad PR” part of the story. No, it was the way Entergy phrased the announcement. Take it away, Vermont Yankee Security Manager Patrick Ryan:

“… it is important to reinforce that one of our top priorities continues to be the safety and security of our facility.”

Okay… wait.

One of our top priorities”?

The chief of security says that security is “one of” their top priorities. How reassuring.

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The Brock campaign’s nuclear connections — UPDATED

Last week, Randy Brock kinda re-introduced his bid for lieutenant governor at the same news conferece where a bunch of Republicans threw their lot in with Marco Rubio, the presidential candidate last seen telling dick jokes about Donald Trump.

Mm-hmm, presidential.

Brock made headlines by claiming he knows how to boost state tax revenue by $100 million, and I’ll be writing more about that in the near future. But he also showcased his campaign team. And the media coverage was notable for what it didn’t say.

VTDigger identified campaign manager Brad Ferland in passing, without specifying his credentials. The Vermont Press Bureau named Ferland* (listing his day job as deputy commissioner of the state Department of Finance and Management) and two others: Brent Burns, credentials unspecified; and Guy Page, identified as “field director for VT Watchdog.”

*UPDATE: The VPB was in error. There are two Brad Ferlands. The one who works for the state is not connected with the Brock campaign in any way. 

The latter is interesting enough; VT Watchdog is the Green Mountain outpost of the national Watchdog network, which is funded by far-right wealthy donors in the Koch brothers orbit.

But what’s even more interesting about Page and Ferland is what wasn’t reported: both are on the payroll of the Vermont Energy Partnership. For those unfamiliar, this bland-sounding organization is basically a sounding board for corporate energy interests in Vermont. As Green Mountain Daily put it:

The Vermont Energy Partnership was founded by [some] of the most powerful corporations, few from Windham County, including IBM, Casella Waste Management, and Pizzagalli Construction, plus business associations like the Vermont Fuel Dealers Association. And, of course, Entergy.

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Giving the name “Deadpool” a whole new meaning

House Speaker Shap Smith did something unusual this week: he put out a strongly-worded position statement on an issue not currently before the Legislature. More on that in a moment, but first, feast your eyes on this all-kinds-of-wrong picture.

Family fun for everyone!

Family fun for everyone!

That, my friends, is how they’re storing radioactive water at Vermont Yankee, as reported last week by VTDigger’s Mike Faher. That pool, seemingly stretched to the bursting point, is an Intex “Easy Set” swimming pool, advertised as one of “the easiest family and friend-sized pools to set up in the world.”

Yikes.

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I think Dick Mazza’s just trolling us now

Well, the State Senate’s #1 Untouchable, Dick Mazza, is at it again.

This time, the alleged Democrat has co-written an opinion piece (published a few days ago in the Bennington Banner) with Republican Peg Flory and alleged Democrat Bobby Starr, slamming the Shumlin administration for, uhh, seeking the shutdown of Vermont Yankee.

To be more precise, the three solons accuse Shumlin of rank hypocrisy for wanting to close Vermont Yankee and now seeking divestment from coal stocks. Because Vermont Yankee was renewable energy, see?

Yeah.

The essay includes plenty of harsh rhetoric you might expect from the outer precincts of the VTGOP. (Tougher than Phil Scott, certainly.) Here’s a sample:

Recent issuances from Vermont’s government have overridden fiduciary responsibility and due process in favor of special interest campaigns and political gestures.

Right out of the Republican playbook, no? And then, this:

The eventual, unfortunate decision to close Vermont Yankee has now increased the state’s carbon footprint, as Vermont uses more fossil fuels for energy generation. State government officials at the time called the loss of high paying jobs and expanded tax base “hard news,” as if nothing could have been done to prevent the closure and its consequences.

Again, chapter and verse from the VTGOP: pinning the blame on Shumlin and ignoring the fact that it was Vermont Yankee’s owner that pulled the plug. For all of the Governor’s posturing, Entergy was winning the court battle over VY’s future when it decided, purely on financial grounds, to close down the plant on schedule.

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The Vermont Yankee Lie

Well, I guess I’ve got to get my elephant gun, because an irrepressible little Republican gnat is buzzing in my ear again.

The metaphorical “gnat” in this case is a favored lie among Vermont Republicans: that Democrats are to blame for the closing of Vermont Yankee, thus robbing our state of putatively “clean” energy (as long as you can ensure thousands of centuries of safe storage, heh) and hundreds of good-paying jobs.

The latest shibboleth-repeater is one Scot Shumski, member of the Burlington School Board and spectacularly unsuccessful candidate for the House in 2014. (For those keeping score at home, he got whomped by Dem Jean O’Sullivan by a nearly 3-1 margin.) He took to the Twitterverse on a hot Monday afternoon:

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The NRC has faith in the stock market

Our government’s nuclear watchdogs made a move yesterday that reinforces their image as the Industry’s Best Friend.

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission has granted requests from Entergy Nuclear Operations Inc. to use some of the $665 million in its decommissioning fund to store used fuel rods that remain radioactive for thousands of years.

And by “some,” we mean $225 million, or more than one-third of the same decommissioning fund that’s woefully underfunded for the task of actually decommissioning Vermont Yankee, which is why we’ll have to wait 60 years before the thing is safely disposed of.

And here’s the ha-ha funny thing.

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Closing time

Shoutout to my favorite one-hit wonder of all time…

So gather up your jackets, move it to the exits

I hope you have found a friend.

Closing time

Every new beginning comes from some other beginning’s end

And here we are, on The Last Day of Vermont Yankee. Or, as @GovPeterShumlin put it:

Yeah, well, as if.

Problem: today is not “the end of years of controversy.” It is, in the questionably immortal words of Semisonic, “some other beginning’s end.”

What ends today is the productive phase of Vermont Yankee’s history. What begins is the long slow wait for decommissioning. The chances of an accident will diminish, but we’ll still have a whole lot of hyper-toxic stuff SAFSTOR’d on the banks of the Connecticut River.

Look at it this way. The “lifespan” of Vermont Yankee was 42 years. The “deathspan,” if I may coin a word, will be AT LEAST 30 years. That’s the optimistic forecast for decommissioning. And that’s heavily dependent on the always-reliable, ha ha, stock market: Entergy’s decommissioning fund sits at $665 million, a little more than half the estimated cost of decom. Entergy says it won’t start decom until the fund grows to cover the entire (estimated) $1.24 billion price tag.

But hey, the markets always go up, right?

The way Entergy puts it, they’re doing us a big fat favor by planning the decom for the 2040s. By federal standards, they don’t have to do it until 2075.

Sixty years away.

In that scenario, the “deathspan” of the plant will have been 50% longer than the lifespan.

That’s the problem with nuclear energy. I’m not necessarily against nukes; if managed correctly, they do provide reliable carbon-free power. But there’s that long, lingering afterlife — and corporate America has never shown much dedication to long-term responsibilities.

Nor has public America, for that matter; we have yet to devise a long-term storage plan for all that nuclear waste.

Anyway, I suppose @GovPeterShumlin is only doing what a governor has to do: putting the best face on a decidedly mixed reality.

But I’d be very surprised if this was, in fact, “the end of controversy.”

And in the words of Semisonic, wherever they are today:

I know who I want to take me home,

and it ain’t Entergy.

Sometimes, no matter what the cost, you just gotta make a stand

In the course of human events, there comes a time for a single heroic action that can spell the difference between ruination and glory. At moments like these, great figures arise, making statements that ring true across the centuries, imspiring new heroes with the sheer power of their words.

“I regret that I have but one life to give for my country.” — Nathan Hale

“Don’t give up the ship!”  — James Lawrence

“Damn the torpedoes, full speed ahead!”  — David Farragut

“I shall return!” — Douglas MacArthur

“We will bury you!” — Nikita Khruschchev

Oops, I don’t know how that last one got in there. Sorry. But you get my drift.

And today, in the midst of desperate times, another hero strode forth:

Screen Shot 2014-09-30 at 4.55.42 PM

“I stand by my retweet.” George S. Patton couldn’t have said it any better.

Really, I’m glad I wasn’t drinking coffee when I read that, because I would have had hot java up my nose and down my shirt.

A bit of context, for those just joining us. Earlier today, I wrote about a fatally flawed essay by James Conca of Forbes Magazine, which blamed rising energy prices in New England on “Vermont’s choice” to close the Vermont Yankee nuclear plant.

Which is nonsense; the plant’s owner pulled the plug for financial reasons. But that didn’t stop Vermont conservatives, who should know better, from latching on to the erroneous column. One of the guilty was Darcie “Hack” Johnston, hapless campaign consultant, who eagerly retweeted a link to the Concatenation. And when I noted the duplicity of glomming onto a fundamentally flawed essay, Johnston issued her broadside.

“I stand by my retweet.”

That’s gotta be one of the most ridiculous attempts at inspirational rhetoric I’ve ever seen.

Go ahead, @DarcieLJ. Stand by your tiny evanescent masterpiece.

When a crucial omission becomes a Big Lie

On Monday, the Forbes website posted a piece by columnist James Conca entitled “Closing Vermont Nuclear Bad Business For Everyone.” Judging by Conca’s oeuvre, he is a complete apologist for nuclear energy… but that’s not my point here.

My point is the fundamental dishonesty of his column, based upon one crucial omission. And I quote:

Two electricity distribution companies in Massachusetts and New Hampshire announced electricity rate increases for this winter. This collateral damage results from Vermont’s choice last year to close the Vermont Yankee nuclear power plant. That choice has hurt rate-payers in their neighboring states.

Catch it? “Vermont’s choice.”

As anyone with the most glancing exposure to the facts could tell him, it was not Vermont’s choice to close Vermont Yankee. It was plant owner Entergy’s choice, For financial reasons having to do with changing market forces, not with Vermont’s overzealous radical socialist hippie-dippie hatred of Big Nuke.

Sure, Vermont had a more skeptical regulatory eye than other host states. Completely justified, IMO, because of Entergy’s terrible track record as plant operator. But Entergy made the decision to close VY on its own. It was a surprise to everyone in Vermont, because it came in the midst of Entergy’s full-court-press legal battle to keep VY open. Indeed, by all indications, Entergy was very likely to win the case and a 20-year license extension.

Mr. Conca is either criminally uninformed for an energy columnist at a major publication, or he’s ignoring the facts to suit his argument. In short, he’s either stupid or a liar.

All that is bad enough. But now, at least three members of Vermont’s terminally frustrated conservative minority have picked it up.Screen Shot 2014-09-30 at 10.58.34 AMScreen Shot 2014-09-30 at 11.20.05 AM

Ah, the immortal Tayt Brooks, former Douglas Administration functionary, former secretive head of the very secretive Lenore Broughton’s failed SuperPAC, Vermonters First, now the Vermont rep for American Majority, part of the Koch Brothers’ far-flung empire of innocuously-branded nonprofit organizations.

And then there’s Brian Keefe, bagman for Central Vermont Public Service. Retweeted by serially failed campaign consultant Darcie “Hack” Johnston, currently serving as unpaid consultant to the Dan Feliciano campaign.

As an outsider, James Conca may have the slightest figleaf of deniability for basing his argument on a canard. But Brooks, Keefe, and Johnston cannot possibly claim ignorance.

No, they’re spreading this column around because it suits their political interests, regardless of how it misrepresents the real situation.

I’m sure this is just the beginning of Vermont conservatives’ efforts to trumpet Conca’s essay as more proof of the evil Democrats’ anti-business agenda. Even though they know full well that the entire column is built on a foundation of quicksand.

Rob Roper? El Jefe General John McClaughry? “Super Dave” Sunderland? Scott Milne? Dan Feliciano? I’m lookin’ at you.