March 16, 2017
CT Green Guide

Nuke bill takes shape

Flickr Creative Commons | Aidan Wakely-Mulroney
Flickr Creative Commons | Aidan Wakely-Mulroney
The view of Millstone Power Station from across Niantic Bay.

Legislators have further fleshed out sparse language in a proposed bill seen as a way to boost Millstone Nuclear Power Station in Waterford, which is struggling to compete with low natural gas prices.

An Energy and Technology Committee version of the bill released this week calls on several state agencies to solicit bids for power contracts from Class I renewable energy producers like solar and wind, large-scale hydropower, and anaerobic digestion facilities.

The bill also instructs the committee to issue one or more solicitations for bids from nuclear facilities, trash-to-energy plants and newer biomass facilities. Such a process would allow Millstone to sell its power directly to Connecticut utilities, which its owner Dominion claims would result in lower electric prices for Connecticut ratepayers.

Critics have argued that Millstone is asking for special treatment and should have to open its books to legislators to prove it truly needs the help.

Resulting long-term contracts between generators and utilities would be subject to Public Utilities Regulatory Authority approval.

Added to the latest bill draft are stricter standards for increasing the mix of renewable sources in the state's electricity generation.

The so-called Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS) requires Class I energy sources to comprise 20 percent of the state's energy mix by 2020, but has not yet been extended beyond that year.

S.B. 106 would gradually increase that standard by 1 percent per year starting in 2021, reaching 40 percent by 2040.

A separate bill before the same committee calls for a steeper increase, to 50 percent by 2030. The bill, introduced by Rep. Matthew Lesser (D-Middletown), has not had a public hearing.

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