Tim Ashe – Update on VT Yankee

1. In February I learned that several years ago a few legislators asked Auditor Tom Salmon to conduct an audit of the management of Vermont Yankee’s decommissioning fund. In the lead-up to the Senate’s vote not to re-license VY, I asked the Auditor for this audit. His reply on February 19 was that the target date to release the audit was April 1, 2010. Today’s Seven Days profile of the upcoming Auditor’s election makes me think we may never see the audit while our current auditor is in office. Check it out here. We all need to mount some pressure on Tom Salmon to release this audit, which he appears to be sitting on.

he audit is important because it will shed light on the seriousness with which Entergy has been viewing their decommissioning obligations. As you know, in the end, either Entergy will pay to decommission, or taxpayers will. If they are tanking their obligation, we need to know it immediately. Which makes yesterday’s Entergy earnings report all the more interesting. Looks like these are good times at Entergy. Check out the report here. Of particular interest is that Entergy’s 2nd Quarter earnings are up a whopping $90 million over the same period a year earlier. I guess that’s why Entergy is in the partying mood and is treating all of their “analysts” at the major investment banks to a party at the New Orleans Jazz Festival. Seriously. It’s on page 9 of this document Entergy released today.

3. Not sure if you’ve had a chance to actually read the VY Public Oversight Panel’s July 20 report yet. It continues to raise serious questions about the safety of the plant and ENVY’s ability to responsibly operate the plant. One section that particularly struck me reads: “This organization-wide breakdown appears to indicate that the cultural norms that allowed personnel to perpetuate misstatements for 12-months are endemic throughout the Vermont Yankee organization.  The systemic nature of the failures to communicate accurately in important forums and the sheer number of persons involved amplifies the Panel’s earlier concern that there is a lack of a questioning attitude within ENVY’s organization and corporate structure.” This is quite an indictment of Entergy’s plant management. Nuclear energy is not the industry for “yes men.”

4. It should come as no surprise that VY’s owners are energetically approaching the upcoming election. They have a slick campaign featuring VY employees. Look for money to begin to flow to Yankee-friendly candidates.

5. It was very heartening to hear the Chairman of the NRC suggest that the Senate’s vote this spring did not cross any of the NRC’s jurisdictional lines. Just two weeks after his visit to VT, the plant was found to have a new safety violation.

Tim Ashe
State Senator
Chittenden County



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