For many New Yorkers, it was enough to know that the executives of Entergy Corp. lost little sleep over putting our health and lives at risk to arrive at a principled opposition to the continuing operation of Entergy’s trouble-prone nuclear reactors at Indian Point. The fact that the $10 billion, New Orleans-based company has managed for several years to get away with sloppy, third-rate oversight of a nuclear plant 30 miles north of midtown Manhattan was enough to spur elected officials such as Attorney General Andrew Cuomo, Westchester County Executive Anthony Spano and Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton to call for stricter federal oversight of Indian Point. A 2004 study concluded that a terrorist attack on the plant could cost the U.S. economy $2.1 trillion and cause the long-term cancer deaths of 500,000 people.
But for those who have not been overly bothered by the queasy possibility of a nuclear accident or a terrorist attack at Indian Point, Entergy’s latest gambit may hit home, as it stands to cost New York taxpayers hundreds of millions, and possibly billions, of dollars.
Entergy is trying to cloak this funny business inside a corporate spinoff—creating a new entity, called Enexus, that, conveniently, would not have to honor Entergy’s current revenue-sharing agreement with the state. Should the deal go through, it would allow Entergy to wriggle out of over $432 million of obligations to New York State over the next six years, as well as opening the possibility that Entergy will further saddle New York taxpayers with billions of dollars in costs when the Indian Point reactors are eventually decommissioned. An Entergy spokesman boasted to The New York Times that the restructuring “optimizes the value for all our stakeholders.” Sure it does. One imagines a lot of companies would love to boost their bottom line by walking away from agreements they had promised to honor. (By the way, that $432 million Entergy is trying to avoid paying? It’s supposed to go to the State Power Authority, which does things such as provide furnaces to needy public schools and appliances to public housing residents.)
Attorney General Cuomo has stepped up to the plate, calling on New York’s Public Service Commission to block this shady deal. Westchester Democratic Assemblyman Richard Brodsky has also spoken up, noting, “This is the kind of crystallized, focused corporate greed and irresponsibility that Entergy has perfected. They are mining the ratepayer and taxpayer for every penny they can and trying to evade their responsibilities.” We trust that Governor David Patterson will add his voice to this chorus of conscience, and not allow New Yorkers to be stuck with paying the tab for Entergy’s reckless greed.