Connecticut gov. orders economic study of state's only nuclear plant

Millstone produces more than half of the state's electricity

Content Dam Elp Online Articles 2017 06 Millstone Nuclear Plant Color Elp

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) — Connecticut Gov. Dannel P. Malloy on Tuesday ordered a study of the Millstone Power Station's future economic viability, but a top official representing the nuclear power plant said "the time for a study without action has passed."

Paul Koonce, CEO of Dominion Energy Power Generation Group, Millstone's owner, said Dominion plans to continue its own strategic assessment of the Waterford facility and make a "business decision" regardless of Connecticut's study.

Millstone produces more than half of the state's electricity.

"Dominion appreciates the governor's leadership in helping to ensure Millstone continues to provide critical energy, environmental and economic benefits for Connecticut," Koonce said in a written statement. "However, the time for a study without action has passed."

Virginia-based Dominion has called on the Connecticut General Assembly during the past two years to enact legislation that would help stabilize Millstone financially, such as allowing the power plant to sell its power more directly to consumers. Proponents argue that would eliminate the middleman and help ensure the power station remains economically viable in a changing energy market.

Last year's bill was later revamped, requiring the state to study the financial conditions of Millstone and other regional nuclear plants and implement changes that are in the best interest of ratepayers. A bill has not yet cleared both legislative chambers.

Malloy's executive order requires the state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection and the Public Utilities Regulatory Authority to review the current and projected economic viability of Millstone's continued operation.

The agencies also will examine the role of nuclear plants, large-scale hydropower, energy storage, renewable energy and demand reduction measures play in helping Connecticut meet carbon emission targets while maintaining the reliability of Connecticut's electric grid. The study will look at other issues, including potential multistate collaborations. Findings will be submitted to Malloy and the legislature before the start of the 2018 session.

State Sen. Paul Formica, R-East Lyme, a co-chairman of the legislature's Energy and Technology Committee, said studying Millstone's situation "is just one step forward." He maintains that more needs to be done.

"It's apparent that there is a problem in the market," he said. "Given the many nuclear facility closings around the country, it's clear we need to act now before we become the next state where such a closure occurs."

He noted that if Millstone should close, Connecticut would lose both a stable source of power and many jobs.

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