May 29th, 2008

Stop the Clock: Entergy Caves in 7 Days

by Philip Baruth

Just a week ago we posted about a very revealing Freudian slip on the Vermont Yankee web site, an invitation to the reader to “learn more about our current energy options and the challenges of our entergy [sic] future.” And given that plant-owner Entergy has more than a few challenges in its future, the line worked just fine for VDB, just as it stood.

homer, x-ray

But by pointing it out publicly, we knew that corporate spokesman Rob Williams would be left with two choices: leave the gaffe as it stood, thereby exposing the fallibility of Entergy’s PR operation, or correct it, and make clear just how closely the folks down at corporate HQ follow the blogosphere.

And we started the clock running.

Well, the clock has officially stopped: an eagle-eyed VDB-reader just wrote in to say that the error has been scrubbed, and Entergy’s facade is once more what one would expect at a URL like

But VDB readers know the truth now, too: Goliath is watching the boys with the slingshots a good deal more than he lets on. And that knowledge, in turn, may well entice more folks to pick up more slingshots.

Which is the blogosphere in a nutshell, really.

Late Update, Thursday, 7:32 am:

Saw the NYT article on VY yesterday, but managed to miss the money quote at the end of it. It’s Rob Williams, of course, attempting a triple semantic dismount from the cooling tower collapse of last summer:

“Rob Williams, an Entergy spokesman, said the cooling tower, along with other recent incidents, ‘certainly impacted reliability, but the safety was not at all impacted.’”

And he stuck the dismount!

bernie stares down lunch

Actually, this is maybe one of the silliest formulations yet, topped only by the assertion, a few months back, that the Vernon plant’s maintenance woes were a sign of its natural and healthy “evolution.” But now we have the admission that the cooling tower collapse and other plant mishaps “certainly impacted reliability” — Williams simply wants to draw a bright line between reliability and safety.

Which is borderline silly in any everyday context — imagine a used car dealer telling you a sedan is unreliable but not unsafe — but it’s sheer madness when you’re discussing critical systems of any sort.

And if we’re wrong about that, we suggest a scuba diving holiday for the overworked Rob Williams, at whatever distant Club Med the executives at Entergy favor, and we’ll send him down with a nice set of tanks that are perfectly safe, but certainly unreliable.

And then it’s aloha Rob.