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Green River Nuclear Trial Updates

Starting Monday 9/23, HEAL's policy director Matt Pacenza will be filing trial updates from Price once or twice a day. Check back to this page for those updates -- or click here to have them delivered to your inbox.

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UPDATE #9: The Waiting game

FILED FRIDAY 9/27

And now we wait. 

The last week was by turns frustrating, enlightening and exciting. At the end of these long five days, even as we’re not sure if we succeeded in halting the absurd Green River nuclear proposal, we’re very proud of the case which our attorneys John Flitton and Lara Swensen presented.  

In a courtroom in Price, we had a public opportunity to make very clear all the reasons this project shouldn’t move forward. We got great press, we learned some key information that will help us immensely in the coming months and years if need be and we put the truth out front: This project makes no sense. 

Before we turn to a brief recap of today’s closing statements, as always, you can read about the rest of the trial here.  

I was not present in Price this morning, for family reasons. But our development director Sophia work up early and drove down and captured the final three hours of debate. Thanks to Sophia for that, and for taking great notes. Here’s what she witnessed:  

Blue Castle’s attorney, Thomas Wright, offered his closing arguments first. Their message was simple: Utah needs nuclear power in order to diversity our energy portfolio, as we move away from coal.  

And, he argued, even if our attorneys and experts raised doubts about whether Blue Castle or their theoretical future deep-pocketed partners will be able to build nuclear reactors anytime soon, that’s not required by the law. Wright argued, rather, that all they needed to show was that it could happen. 

Some could see that as speculation, he said, but healthy economies encourage risk-taking, and in this case it’s Blue Castle itself taking the risk. As you might imagine, Wright said a lot more about how the project won’t really harm the fish or take too much water and how maybe nuclear power has a future, but let’s move forward to our attorney’s closing arguments. 

John Flitton zeroed in one key part of Utah’s water law: which bans transferring water like this if it’s for “speculative” purposes. Blue Castle’s plan seems to fit that word perfectly: Their explicit plan is to nail down their water rights, get permits and then wait and hope for a utility to come along with actual money and an actual plan to design, build and operate reactors. What’s problematic, Flitton made clear, is Blue Castle can wait and wait and wait. 

"They want to have the ability to not make decisions and keep holding this water in perpetuity and bank this early-site permit for 40 years," Flitton said. "Here is a valuable public resource that is not being developed.  

(Check out today’s Tribune story for more on the closing arguments.)

Flitton also went after Wright’s argument that we need nuclear, because we’ll have to find something to fill the gap as we move away from coal.

“The applicants are looking at what they perceive to be a hole in the market,” he said. “But they ignore that the utilities are already planning to meet that gap in the market.”  

I’ve mentioned this in earlier recaps, but one of the strangest parts of this trial was that Blue Castle officials kept pretending that PacifiCorp – the parent company of Utah’s largest utility, Rocky Mountain Power – had interest in their project. Even as they did that, reporters would call Rocky Mountain Power and their spokespeople would flatly say (see here and here) that they aren’t interested in acquiring nuclear power. Delusion ain’t just a Winter Olympics sport, as they say.

Flitton made plenty of other strong points – Blue Castle needs to prove they have money not just to pay for studies, but the project itself; state law doesn’t let the State Engineer defer to federal authorities as he repeatedly did – but we don’t want this email to get too long.

Once the closing arguments were complete, Judge George Harmond complimented both sides on the quality of our cases and then indicated he would rule within 60 days.

And so now, we wait. Till around Halloween, perhaps, but no later than just before Thanksgiving.

We should add, that throughout this week, the judge was attentive, engaged and fair. We’re confident he’ll make a cautious decision. Here's to hoping it's the right one!

I hope that folks have enjoyed these updates. We certainly hope that the next time we email you about this case, it’s full of lots of “Woo hoo”s! If it’s not, we’re still confident that we’re fighting the good fight, and proud that so many of you stand with us.

Best,

Matt.

P.S. Please allow us again to offer a huge thanks to John Flitton and Lara Swensen of Flitton & Swensen. They tried a great case this week. And they’re doing this all because they believe it’s the right thing to do. They are working for HEAL and our fellow plaintiffs for a fraction of their regular fees. We are SO appreciative of their hard work and enormous talents.

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UPDATE #8: "fish are always an afterthought"

FILED THURSDAY 9/26, PM

And we’re done! Testimony in our legal challenge to the Green River nuclear water rights concluded this afternoon, after four days. Closing arguments will take place in the morning, with a ruling from the judge expected within a few weeks. (As always, click here for the earlier recaps.)

This afternoon’s testimony was fairly brief, as this recap will be as well. We put up two witnesses who focused on water and fisheries issues. These are important because the State Engineer was required to prove that taking 53,000 acre feet of water out of the Green River wouldn’t “harm the natural stream environment.”

The first witness was Dr. Harold Tyus, quite possibly the world’s leading expert on the Green River fisheries. He strongly disagreed with Blue Castle’s claims that the Green’s four native endangered fish species -- the razorback sucker, humpback chub, Colorado pikeminnow, and bonytail – won’t be harmed by this proposed withdrawal.

Blue Castle’s expert said that because there are relatively few key spawning, feeding and nursery spots for the fish downriver, there was no reason to worry. Au contraire, said Tyus. Every mid-channel sandbar and backwater channel matters.

“If there’s not very many of them, they’re even more important,” said Tyus, of those critical locations for nurturing the endangered species. “Without them, there wouldn’t be any fish.”

The fundamental problem, said Tyus, is that water managers keep approving more and more water diversions and the fish are always an afterthought.

Our final expert, Charles Norris, a hydrologist and expert on the Colorado River basin, found fault with how Blue Castle’s experts determined that taking out those 53,000 acre feet (which translates to 74 cfs) won’t significantly change the river. The problem, said Norris, is the lack of specific localized analysis of those key spots for the fish.

“If you go down to where you have bars, and spits, and islands in the river, that same flow reduction can have a much greater impact,” Norris said.

That's all for today. I have to go back to Salt Lake tonight, but HEAL's Sophia Nicholas will be in the courtroom in the morning, witnessing the closing arguments. We'll send you a final update tomorrow.

Cross your fingers!

From Helper,

Matt.

***

UPDATE #7: "Purely speculation"

FILED THURSDAY 9/26, AM

Ah, that was more like it. On Thursday morning, our Green River trial was jerked out of what's been a somewhat technical affair, interruped by some intriguing moments. But, then, this morning, for about two hours, Dr. Mark Cooper took the stand and flatly told District Court Judge George Harmond that Blue Castle’s plan was “purely speculation” and that the small company “could not possibly execute the project.”

(Before we get to the details, if you'd like to read earlier trial updates, click here.)

Cooper is eminently qualified to judge whether new nuclear power makes economic sense: He's published many articles and reports on that very topic. And, importantly, he's a very good communicator: blunt, frank and smart. His damning testimony sent Blue Castle and their lawyers scrambling, calling for a break and huddling outside the courtroom. Needless to say, it was great. Let's get to the details:

Cooper explained to Judge Harmond that while many new nuclear projects were proposed in the United States from 2007-09, during the so called “New Nuclear Renaissance,” the vast majority of those will not be built. And the reason is very simple: They cost too much. The only projects moving forward – two reactors in Georgia; two in South Carolina – are both add-ons to existing nuclear power plants, which makes them cheaper.

In addition, Cooper explained, those two states are among the very few in this country that have “advanced cost recovery laws,” which allow utilities to charge customers for the costs of permitting and building nuclear reactors, years before they’re built. Or whether they’re built at all.

“No project has moved forward in a state that hadn’t already passed a cost recovery law,” Cooper said. Utah has no such law. Blue Castle urged the State Legislature to pass one this past spring – SB199 – but it was withdrawn even before it reached a committee.

Cooper noted that clearly Blue Castle does not have enough money now – after six years of existence, the company disclosed Monday they have raised and spent just $17 million, far short of the $50-$100 million they need to apply to the NRC, let alone the $16-$18 billion they would need to build the reactors. In addition, he said, the company will not be able to attract investors given how expensive nuclear reactors are.

“Nuclear power can’t be financed in normal capital markets today,” Cooper said. “To my mind, this [project] is purely speculation. The amount of money they’ve raised is miniscule.”

Cooper challenged Blue Castle’s claim that if they get water approval and the NRC permits, then investors and utilities will flock to invest in their project. “They’re saying, ‘Well someone will come along,’” Cooper observed. “Who? Utilities in the West aren’t interested.”

As evidence, Cooper pointed to evidence already introduced in the trial: the most recent plan of PacifiCorp (Rocky Mountain Power’s parent company) which states “nuclear power is not considered a viable option in the PacifiCorp service territory before 2030.” In addition, Rocky Mountain Power spokespeople have told reporters repeatedly (see here and here) in recent days that they aren’t interested in acquiring nuclear power.

One frustrating thing about the Blue Castle portion of this trial is how bizarro-world it has felt like at times, with well-compensated expert after well-compensated expert blithely announcing that nuclear power has a bright future, while virtually every independent report analyst disagrees.

Finally, today, we punctured that balloon. It was great.

Late this morning, we've heard from Dr. Dr. Harold Tyus, a leading expert on the Green River's endangered fish species. He'll be followed by our hydrologist, Charles Norris, an expert on the Colorado River basin. Closing arguments are expected tomorrow.

As always, we'll keep you posted!

***

UPDATE #6: is all that water even enough?

FILED WEDNESDAY 9/25, PM

We FINALLY got to the first of our witnesses this afternoon, at our legal challenge to the Green River nuclear project water rights finished its third day in Price.

It was a thrill to successfully secure Arnold “Arnie” Gundersen as our expert on the nuclear power industry. You should read more about him on his Wikipedia page, or this New York Times article, but Arnie has had a heck of a career: A trained nuclear engineer, he was fired for blowing the whistle on unsafe practices at a nuclear consulting firm where he worked. That led to a second career as a nuclear industry watchdog.

Gundersen fared very well on the stand today, raising several issues critical of Blue Castle’s claims (claims that State Engineer Kent Jones subsequently bought.) First, Gundersen challenged the notion that the amount of water that Blue Castle has been awarded is enough, by comparing the proposal to existing reactors and how much water they use.

“For that withdrawal rate, I couldn’t see how you can put a 3,000 megawatt plant on that site,” Gundersen told the judge. It’s no small issue: If Blue Castle can’t cool their reactors with this much water, would they try -- shudder -- to get more? Or would they then try to make less electricity – throwing their already shaky business plan further in doubt?

Our nuclear expert then raised another issue: Is the State Engineer’s conclusion that nuclear power wouldn’t contaminate the Green River accurate? This gets complicated, but Gundersen explained that water which includes dissolved salts, pesticides and algaecides evaporates, blows and drifts from the cooling process and settles on nearby land and water. Those chemicals are added to cooling water to prevent bacterial and algae growth which can inhibit cooling.

“Between blow-down and drift, there will be contaminants released into the river,” Gundersen told the judge.

Tomorrow will bring our three other witnesses: Dr. Mark Cooper, an authority on nuclear power economics; Charles Norris, our hydrologist, who is an expert on the Colorado River basin; and Dr. Harold Tyus, a leading expert on the Green River's endangered fish species. We’re eager to hear what they have to say.

And then, almost certainly, the trial will conclude Friday with each side’s closing arguments.

We’ll keep you posted!

Best,

Matt.

P.S. The less said the better about Dr. Nils Diaz, Blue Castle’s final witness, who waxed poetic for several hours about how wonderful nuclear power is. The irony – or is the right word tragedy? – is that immediately before Diaz began cashing big checks as a nuclear power industry consultant, he wrapped up ten years as a Commissioner with the Nuclear Regulatory Commission. In other words, right after he finished a decade allegedly independently looking out for our safety, he jumped right into the arms of the industry he was regulating. Sigh.

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UPDATE #5: "the money wasn't there"

FILED WEDNESDAY 9/25, AM

As I mentioned yesterday, attorney John Flitton had a difficult job to do this morning in 
District Court in Price. State Engineer Kent Jones is a critically 
important witness. He is, after all, the man who made the decision to
 grant the Green River nuclear reactors their water-- the very decisions
 we are in court seeking to overturn.





Jones is also an excellent witness: knowledgeable, plain-spoken and
 unflappable. Unlike the rest of the witnesses who have testified for 
Blue Castle so far this week, he isn’t currently cashing a check from 
the company and doesn’t have a stake in the outcome of their venture.





Flitton gently but thoroughly walked Jones through his decision,
 identifying several key weak points. A big issue in this case, for
 example, is whether taking out 53,000 acre feet of water a year –
which translates into a continuous flow of 74 cfs for my 
scientifically-minded readers – is sufficient to harm several
 endangered fish species. That harm would be worst during “low-flow”
conditions, defined as less than 1,300 cfs. Those dry periods happen
 regularly, especially during the summer.





Won’t taking out all this water for nuclear power make those low-flow 
periods worse? Flitton asked. Yes, Jones admitted.





The most dynamic sparring came during questions over whether Blue 
Castle has the “financial ability to complete the project,” as state 
law required the State Engineer to decide. Remember the context here: 
Just weeks after Jones’ decision, news broke
 that the only named investor behind Blue Castle – a New York hedge
fund called LeadDog – was facing federal charges after allegedly 
swindling elderly investors. Blue Castle quickly claimed they never
 took a penny from LeadDog, and had known they wouldn’t for months, but 
for some reason never told the State Engineer this before his decision 
which cited that very funding.





In addition, Blue Castle had told Jones that they were in 
“negotiations with utilities represent[ing] total commitments of $72 
million,” although to this day they have never offered any 
documentation to prove that, and apparently no such commitments have 
been made.





Flitton questioning Jones on these financial shenanigans – Wasn’t it a 
concern that the money that Blue Castle claimed it had didn’t exist? –
solicited some amazing quotes from Jones which I wanted to share: “Our 
understanding was they had some monies lined up, and even if those
 monies didn’t line up, they had a plan.” And, “It would make me feel 
better if the money was there.” And, “It causes me some concern that 
someone says, ‘I’ve got all this money,’ and it turns out the money 
wasn’t there.” (He later qualified that to say he had “a little 
concern, but not a great deal,” about Blue Castle lying about money.)





After this back and forth, Flitton summarized all the concerns about 
Blue Castle’s shaky money situation – we’ve found out in court this 
week that they have raised $17 million; building the reactors will
 cost at least $17 billion – in one question: “They haven’t raised even 
one percent of the cost of this project. Does that concern you?”





“Not really,” replied Jones.





We’ll leave it there for now. Blue Castle executive and former NRC 
Commissioner is now on the stand, the final of their witnesses. Our
 attorneys will cross-examine him this afternoon, before our first
 expert – finally! – testifies.





Best,





Matt.


***

UPDATE #4: nuclear has a rosy future?

FILED TUESDAY 9/24, PM

Hello: Day Two is done! We've nearly completed Blue Castle's witnesses, and as my email and blog post from this morning noted, much of our discussion today in District Court in Price today was about whether nuclear power is economically viable.
It's clearly a key weakness in Blue Castle's case -- as everyone apparently except for Blue Castle's paid guns knows, the new nuclear power renaissance hasn't really worked out, mostly because it's just too darn expensive.

One key issue that keeps coming up is what conditions have led to nuclear reactors being built elsewhere in the United States. Blue Castle’s experts repeatedly have highlighted the reactor projects moving forward: two in Georgia, two in South Carolina and one in Tennessee. Clearly, they're telling the judge, nuclear power in America does make sense, given that reactors are currently being built.

However, what they don’t mention, is that in both Georgia and South Carolina, laws exist which make it much easier to build reactors: They’re called “advanced cost recovery,” laws and they allow utilities to charge customers years before (or whether) reactors are built.

Our attorneys pressed that point with Blue Castle’s witnesses, who did acknowledge that perhaps the fact that nuclear presents no risk to utilities in those states might have something to do with their success there. Oh, and do we have such laws here in Utah, they were asked? Nope, they admitted.

Georgia came up again with Blue Castle economist Rob Graber, who touted it as a success. Our attorney Lara Swensen asked him about cost overruns there – did the fact that Plant Vogtle is already $737 million over budget effect his assessment that nuclear is viable in Utah?

“No, but perhaps I’m biased,” Graber replied. Perhaps.

Lara Swensen pressed Blue Castle witness and economist Glenn George about whether it's unusual for a small startup company to propose nuclear reactors -- after all, a quick glance of pending applications before the NRC shows that they're basically all coming from giant utilities with billions in assets.

Have you consulted on projects proposed by non-utilities? He thought for a moment and replied, Yes, he had once or twice. How many nuclear power plants have they built? None, he replied.

Quick note: Our attorneys asked George what his hourly rate is, how much Blue Castle pays him. Guess! Guess again! Again! You're still low. He is paid $525 an hour. Five-hundred-and-twenty-five smackaroos an hour! Maybe that's why they call it the "green" river nuclear proposal.

So far, we've only heard from Blue Castle's witnesses. Despite our attorneys' successful efforts to challenge testimony, most of what the judge has heard so far has been from one side.

That changes tomorrow! Blue Castle has one witness left in the morning, and then we'll hear from HEAL's experts. I'm looking forward to sharing more from them then.

Best,

MATT.

P.S. Blue Castle's last witness was State Engineer Kent Jones, who explained his decision to approve the water rights for the reactors. He was, frankly, a very good witness -- plain-spoken, humble, reasonable -- but in the morning, when our attorneys cross-examine him, we'll gain a better sense of how strong his decision really is.

***

UPDATE #3: DOES ANYONE WANT THIS POWER?

FILED TUESDAY 9/24, AM

Hello from Price, where our challenge to the water rights awarded to the Green River nuclear proposal enters its second day of testimony. To check out day one, see the online blog post or emails I sent yesterday.

This morning's testimony had some terrific moments -- and for the first time, one of Blue Castle's witnesses was notably rattled by our attorneys pointing out um, inaccuracies, in his testimony.

Here's the context: Several Blue Castle witnesses so far have surprisingly tried to argue that Utah utilities are interested in buying Green River nuclear power. It's not really at all accurate, given statements like this and this from Rocky Mountain Power spokespeople saying otherwise.

This morning, Blue Castle senior vice president Reed Searle (a former utility executive and Utah energy advisor) spoke glowingly about how much local interest there was in his power. He referred to our state's utility's IRP plans (planning documents in which Rocky Mountain Power, UAMPS and Deseret Power, among others, explain where they'll get power in coming decades.) He claimed those plans showed interest in nuclear and that Utah's demand was growing sharply.

That created a great opening for our attorney, to cross-examine Searle. Lara Swensen then handed Searle the most recent IRPs for each our state's utilities. She read various pages to him, showing, definitively, that Utah's power demand isn't growing very much, that several utilities project no need for new power sources, and that most damningly, Rocky Mountain Power wrote in its most recent IRP that "nuclear power is not considered a viable option in the PacifiCorp service territory before 2030."

As document after document punched holes in Searle's testimony, he grew increasingly flustered and nervous and started answering "I don't know" and "I'm not sure" a lot. Blue Castle's attorneys began huddling and leaving the room for hallway conversations. Needless to say, it was super fun.

A couple other highlights:

* Blue Castle's first witness was consultant Robert Evans, whose firm is helping Blue Castle apply to the NRC for permits. He, not surprisingly, said the permitting was going great but upon cross-examination said they were “currently re-evaluating the schedule" and “looking at cash flows." In other words, repeating yesterday's findings, Blue Castle doesn't have enough money to move forward.

* The final morning witness is Glenn George, an energy economist, testifying that nuclear power's future is bright. George, an animated man who looks and sounds eerily like Hank Azaria, sought to make the case for nuclear power’s economic viability. He acknowledged that nuclear may cost more than other forms of power generation, but said its advantage for economists is that is costs are predictable. “It’s high, yes, but it’s known,” he told the judge excitedly. I’m sure that will be lots of consolation to utility customers. “Hey, man, guess what? Your sky-high electric bill? It’s going to stay exactly the same for a long time!”  We're on schedule for Blue Castle to finish their witnesses this afternoon, including hearing from State Engineer Kent Jones.

Our experts, who we're very excited about, will testify tomorrow and we expect closing arguments Thursday and possibly into Friday.

I'll be in touch!

Matt.

***

UPDATE #2: FISH! WATER! AND MONEY

FILED MONDAY 9/23, PM

Good evening from Price! This afternoon's courtroom testimony in our Green River nuclear lawsuit, like this morning, again focused in part on finances.

Before we turned to more rosy claims about Blue Castle's finances, however, the early afternoon's testimony focused on water levels in the Green River and impacts upon fisheries.

We're in the part of the trial where Blue Castle's experts testify, so it's not surprising that their overall assessment is: We're fine! There's plenty of water! There will continue to be plenty of water! The fish are fine! They'll stay fine! Our attorneys, John Flitton and Lara Swensen, did raise some critical questions, forcing both former state engineer Jerry Olds and hydrologist Thom Hardy to backpeddle slightly.

We did note this morning that Olds dismissed those who "claim climate change might a problem." Hardy, who we were disappointed to find out did not write Tess of the d'Urbervilles, appears to share that interesting perspective. When pressed about whether the future would bring more or less water to the Colorado River basin, he said, the West “could be going into a wetter cycle just as much as a dryer cycle.” Scientists don't concur.

We then switched gears and heard from Tom Retson, one of Blue Castle's founders, who spoke again about the company's overall direction and financing. A few highlights:

One of the weird things about Blue Castle's bid -- and there are lots -- is that every other American nuclear proposal has a massive utility with deep pockets behind it. However, Retson and Tilton both highlighted Horizon, a UK nuclear plan, to say, "Look, there is another proposal which didn't start with a big utility." But upon questioning from our attorney Lara Swensen, Retson admitted that Horizon is currently stalled. So much for that alleged positive example.

Swensen pushed Retson on the issue of whether Blue Castle has enough money. Now that we know how much money the company has -- about $7-8 million a year -- how will they possibly finish their $100 million application to the NRC within four to five years? “There’s a possibility that strategic partners might become part of the process," Retson said, even though none have in the six years since the project began. And if these new magic investors don't materialize? Then Blue Castle will "modulate" their timeline, which turns out to be a euphemism for delay. In other words, they don't have enough money but will try to keep limping along.

Lastly, Swensen pressed Retson on the issue of whether the application to the NRC would really cost just $100 million. Didn't a similar proposal in Florida come in at $300 million? Well, yes, he admitted, but there were "very unique aspects of that application," including their water rights. Wait, water in rainy Florida costs more than in arid Utah? Or, rather, Florida's water rights review process is more rigorous than Utah's? The latter, it turns out.

Time to go grab a bite to eat. Tomorrow will bring more of Blue Castle's side -- mostly focusing broadly on whether nuclear power has a viable future -- and more updates from me!

From Price,

Matt. 

***

Update #1: Money!

Filed Monday 9/23 mid-day.

Greetings from Price, Utah! I'm literally typing his from the courtroom where our challenge to the state's decision to approve water to cool the proposed Green River nuclear reactors is being heard. I'll embed in here an (admittedly blurry) image of the space.

Proceedings started promptly at 9 am, as the defendants (Blue Castle, the water districts they leased the water from and the State Engineer who approved that application) began to present their case. Our attorneys (John Flitton and Lara Swensen of Flitton & Swensen) will follow mid-week, presenting our experts before closing arguments from both sides, likely by the end of this week.

The highlight of the morning so far has been testimony from Blue Castle's CEO, former state Rep. Aaron Tilton. John Flitton asked Tilton a series of probing questions, which revealed some very interesting information, including:

·       Blue Castle, the nuclear startup, revealed for the first time details about their finances: They've spent $17.5 million so far on the Green River project. The first $1 million or so of that money came from Blue Castle's principals. The rest has come from Willow Creek pipeline, a natural gas services company which Blue Castle bought in 2010. Blue Castle acquired Willow Creek in exchange for a piece of the nuclear company.       

·       Tilton said that Willow Creek generates profits of $7-8 million a year on revenues of roughly $30 million, an incredibly high profit margin. Worth going back to former Trib reporter Judy Fahy's efforts to find out much about Willow Creek, a rather, um, quiet company.

·       Even if Willow Creek is that amazingly profitable, is its cash enough for Blue Castle to apply for a license from the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission? Tilton said that will cost $100 million. (Previously, he has said $100-$200 million.) Tilton also said that it will take Blue Castle four to five more years to complete that application. John Flitton then politely asked, Doesn't that leave you a big funding gap? Of at least $40-$50 million? How will you fill that? Tilton said something vague about "approaching investors."

·       Taking a step back, it's hard to understand what whoever owned Willow Creek was thinking. They agreed to sell their incredibly-profitable natural gas pipeline company for a piece of a nuclear power startup which might, if everything breaks perfectly, produce profit in about a decade?

·       The next interesting part was about the state of the current U.S. nuclear industry. Tilton, under questioning, said the only nuclear reactors under construction are in Georgia and South Carolina and that those are being built in states which have "advanced cost recovery laws," which allow utilities to charge their customers for financing and construction costs, before (and whether) reactors ever get built.

·       Flitton then asked Tilton: Does Utah have such laws? No, Tilton replied. Does California? No, said Tilton.

·       Lastly, Flitton pushed Tilton on the issue of which utilities, if any, have shown interest in the project. Tilton replied that PacifiCorp (Rocky Mountain Power's corporate owner) had. His "evidence," is that they had mentioned it in their IRP documents (long-range planning papers), although he then acknowledged that the IRP was designed to essentially list every possible power source, without a commitment to purchase in any.

·       So, according to Tilton, Rocky Mountain Power is interested in Green River nuclear electricity? He should probably talk to company spokeswoman, who told the Tribune back in February otherwise. "The need for a nuclear power plant is not in the company's current long-term plan," spokeswoman Maria O'Mara said then. Hmmmm. You can expect our attorneys to bring this up again later.

That's all for now! We're currently hearing from former state engineer Jerry Olds, a Blue Castle consultant, who not surprisingly is very confident that there is plenty of water in the Colorado River basin for the Green River nuclear project. He's not worried that rising temperatures and reduced snowpack will play a role, even though as he helpfully noted, "Some claim climate change might be a problem." That might not quite accurately reflect scientific consensus

Expect another missive later today.

Best,

Matt.