Opponents and supporters of a request by the owner of the Millstone Nuclear Power Station to gain access to Connecticut’s renewable energy marketplace are making last ditch efforts to sway the opinion of state utility regulators.
A final ruling in the case is scheduled for Feb. 1. Members of the Public Utilities Regulatory Authority issued a preliminary decision Dec. 13 that concluded the Waterford-based nuclear plant will remain profitable through 2035.
But PURA commissioners in the case also acknowledged if owner Dominion Energy decides to close the power plant anyway, it would have a negative impact on the environment and Connecticut’s economy.
State lawmakers, as well as opponents of the request by Dominion Energy, staked out their positions in a written filing with PURA on Tuesday.
First to weigh in was the Electric Power Supply Association, a trade group representing the owners of power plants that run on fossil fuels. The group is opposed to Millstone being allowed to compete in the renewable power marketplace.
John E. Shelk, president and chief executive officer of the group, said a new report commissioned by EPSA raises doubts that a closure of Millstone would not have a negative effect on the state’s environment and goals of reducing carbon emissions. The new report from Energyzt Advisors, claims there are alternatives for Connecticut to meet its carbon reduction goals.
“The report identifies a wide range of strategies state policymakers can implement to protect and grow jobs, manage costs and reduce emissions for the long term,” Shelk said in a statement.
The new Energyzt analysis claims that:
Millstone effectively can’t shut down before 2022, which allows Connecticut to meet short-term emissions targets through 2020.
Millstone currently is not available to meet Connecticut’s long-term emissions goals, which run through 2050. The licenses expire in 2035 for Unit 2 and 2045 for Unit 3.
Allowing Millstone to compete in the state’s renewable energy marketplace would divert financial resources away from other emission reduction efforts, such as energy efficiency, wind and solar power and electric vehicles that will also help the state meet its emissions reductions goals.
EPSA’s filing was followed by written testimony that was signed onto by 59 state lawmakers, including the leaders of the General Assembly’s Energy and Technology Committee, urging PURA to issue a final decision that will keep the plant open.
The lawmakers contend that lengthy periods of cold weather drive make natural gas fired power plants vulnerable to price spikes that drive up the cost to consumers.
“Where would Connecticut be if Millstone were not here over the past two weeks?” the four-page letter to PURA concludes. “The evidence is clear: Higher prices, higher emissions and higher grid reliability risks. Now is the time to act.”
Dominion Energy submitted 22 pages of testimony to PURA in response to the agency draft ruling.
The company contends that PURA is underestimating the operating and capital costs associated with keeping Millstone in operation. Dominion Energy officials say that allowing Millstone to compete in the state’s renewable energy market will provide Connecticut ratepayers with price certainty that natural gas power plants can’t match when periods of peak demand make the fossil fuel in short supply.