1-17-14 – Entergy, The State, and Trust

by John McClaughry

The opponents of everything nuclear, and particularly of Vermont Yankee, are out in full throat one more time to persuade this Board that “Entergy can’t be trusted”, and that it should not issue a CPG for the final ten months of plant operation.

As a pro-nuclear former Senator with no direct personal interest in the outcome, I would like to call your attention to the fact that it is the State of Vermont that can’t be trusted, not Entergy.

The MOU of 2002 between the state and Entergy set out the rules that the two parties would observe. One was that if Entergy wanted to prolong the plant’s operation after March 22, 2012, it would return to this Board to seek a new CPG.

But the 2005-2006 legislature completely changed the process that Entergy was required to follow to obtain a new CPG – and it did so deliberately to inject a political roadblock into what both parties in 2002 expected to be an impartial administrative proceeding before an expert board.

In my view, Act 160 of 2006 constituted a material breach of the 2002 MOU. It allowed a majority of House and Senate to vote a death sentence for Vermont Yankee for whatever reasons, or for no reasons at all, except the political urge to pander to emotional but fact-starved anti-nuclear activists.

Following that breach of trust, Entergy had little choice but to litigate to keep the plant open, which it did, successfully.

Now the anti-nuclear forces are howling about “trust”. I agree that there is an issue of “trust”, but it runs the other way – to the faithless legislature that broke the state’s deal and thereby freed Entergy from what it had agreed to.

My recommendation is for the Board to issue a final CPG for Vermont Yankee to operate through the end of 2014, based upon the latest agreement between Entergy and the State. Then we all can finally put this embarrassing decade of state perfidy and simony behind us.

John McClaughry is the founder and current vice-president of the Ethan Allen Institute.

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The Ethan Allen Institute is Vermont’s free-market public policy research and education organization. Founded in 1993, we are one of fifty-plus similar but independent state-level, public policy organizations around the country which exchange ideas and information through the State Policy Network.

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