Connecticut Lawmakers Contemplate "Pre-Emptive" Help For Millstone NPP

In a region beset by premature nuclear plant closures, lawmakers in Connecticut once again, as they attempted in 2016, say they are willing to bring nuclear power into the mix along with renewable power sources in bidding for contracts with the state.

Millstone NPP

"Given the significant amount of our region's power produced by Millstone and the fact that this power is produced without carbon emissions linked to climate change, this is an issue worthy of discussion in Connecticut's General Assembly," said Dennis Schain of the state's Department of Energy and Environmental Protection.

In question is the fate of the Millstone Nuclear Power Plant in Waterford, Conn. Contrary to the maneuvering or political balance in other regions, however, Dominion Generation, which operates Milestone's units 2 and 3 close to New London, Conn., has not threatened to close Millstone due to the lack of profits.

However, much on the minds of state legislators is the closing of nearby plants Vermont Yankee (closed at the end of 2014) and Pilgrim Nuclear Power in eastern Massachusetts (to close in 2019), as well as the recent agreement to close Indian Point in New York.

While not threatening closure of Millstone, Dominion representatives have been lobbying lawmakers privately and some legislators are willing to revisit the effort to garner Dominion permission to sell directly to the state. Such an arrangement would need fresh legislation and regulatory approval from the Officer of Consumer Counsel and the state's Public Utilities Regulatory Authority, the New Haven Register reported.

In the plan's favor is retaining a significant generating plant that contributes carbon-free energy to the grid. The state has set a goal of obtaining 20 percent of its power from carbon-free sources by 2020.

Given the point that Dominion has not threatened to close Millstone, “I really consider it a pre-emptive strike to deal with the realities of the energy economics, the paper quoted State Rep. Lonnie Reed (D), who sits on the Energy and Technology Committee, as saying.

"The price of natural gas is depressing prices for electricity across the country, especially in New England. Millstone is not immune to those pressures,” said Dominion spokesman Ken Holt. The prices Dominion receives for Millstone's electricity has dropped 44 percent over the past decade, he said.

He also said consumers would benefit from a direct contract with the state, as it would cut out the middlemen, including Wall Street brokers who treat electricity just like any other commodity.

In 2016, a measure that would have granted Dominion power to bid for state contracts passed in the state Senate, but failed to make it to a vote in the House of Representatives.

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