Trouble Ahead, Trouble Behind

Danziger cartoonDon’t retire those “Nuclear Free in 2012” lawn signs. While 2012 has come to a close, and Vermont Yankee is still producing tons of radioactive waste, the new year’s winds are in our favor.

In today’s blog post titled “Vermont Yankee – Worth More Dead than Alive”  Conservation Law Foundation attorney Sandy Levine writes, “Financial analysts report that Vermont Yankee is economically vulnerable and a retirement announcement would boost stock prices for its parent, Entergy.” Read her blog, with a link to the analysts’ UBS Investment Research report here. Statement of Risk on Page 6 is especially interesting — first because it is written in English, not finance-ese; and second, it describes the additional non-financial risks which make Entergy a poor bargain in Wall Street’s eyes- from regulatory pressures to weather to the price of uranium to “headline risk” — their euphemism for a nuclear accident (!).

In today’s news, the Public Service Board (PSB) put out a second order, once again affirming that Yankee is operating in violation of its sale agreement and lacks a Certificate of Public Good. Their orders rely on language in the 2002 Sale Order Entergy signed. Condition 8 of the Sale Order states:

8. Absent issuance of a new Certificate of Public Good or renewal of the Certificate of Public Good issued today, Entergy Nuclear Vermont Yankee, LLC and Entergy Nuclear Operations, Inc. are prohibited from operating the Vermont Yankee Nuclear Power Station after March 21, 2012.

Motivated by the PSB’s orders, the New England Coalition has gone to the Vermont Supreme Court asking that Yankee be shut down because they are in violation of the sale order. Entergy claims NEC is using bad process, and the state is worried that yet another court battle will muck up the works. The Supremes will hear oral arguments in Montpelier on January 16.

Just two days earlier in New York City, the Federal Court of Appeals will hear oral arguments from Entergy’s stable of four law firms and the Vermont Attorney General’s office in the “preemption case.” Entergy argued that Act 160, the law the legislature enacted giving itself a say in whether nuclear plants can be permitted to operate by the PSB, was motivated by safety concerns.  Only the NRC can judge radiological safety.  The state argues that Act 160 says nothing about safety, and that the case should be decided on what the law says. States are watching the case carefully, as a decision in favor of Entergy could undermine the authority of legislatures. The decision in this case “could have dramatic implications for state sovereignty and the ability of legislatures to regulate corporate activities within their borders.” Read more here, for an excellent analysis of states rights in this case.

As the song goes, trouble ahead, trouble behind …. for Entergy these days. Way to start a new year!

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