June 27, 2017

CT nuke plant weighing retirement options

PHOTO | HBJ File
PHOTO | HBJ File
The Millstone Power Station nuclear plant is the largest generator in Connecticut.

Though it has not said it intends to shut down, the owner of Connecticut's largest power plant told regulators this month that it continues its "strategic review" of the future of its Millstone Power Station in Waterford.

In a June 13 letter to grid operator ISO New England, Dominion Energy -- which released the letter and its response on Monday -- wrote that it will continue to "vigorously pursue legislative options for equitable treatment for nuclear power" in Connecticut, but that it is obligated to its shareholders to conduct the review.

In their recently concluded session, Connecticut lawmakers refused to allow Millstone to sell its power through a state-run procurement process, though it's possible lawmakers could slip language into the budget implementer in their expected upcoming special session.

Opponents of the bill have argued that allowing Millstone into competitive procurements for renewable and clean energy could cause electricity rates to rise and could hurt the growth of solar and other generation technologies in the state.

They also point to a working paper published earlier this year by researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, which projected that Millstone would be the most profitable nuke plants in the country over the next three years.

Dominion senior vice president Thomas Wohlfarth wrote to ISO-NE on June 13, asking the regulator to confirm that Dominion may choose to exit the regional market for economic reasons.

ISO's CFO Vamsi Chadalavada wrote back last Friday with a detailed explainer about the process for generator retirements.

Chadalavada wrote that Millstone is obligated to operate through May 2022 because it cast winning bids into ISO-NE's future capacity auction earlier this year. Dominion would face financial penalties for breaking those obligations or failing to transfer them to other generators.

If it wants to close after that point, ISO NE -- should it determine that closure would impact the reliability of the region's bulk power system -- could choose to offer a special reliability contract to keep the plant running.

However, Dominion could decline the special contract, if it chooses. Nothing force it to remain open.

Stop The Millstone Payout, formed by a group of fossil fuel plants, said Tuesday that there was "nothing new" in Dominion's letter or ISO-NE's response.

"We've known for months that Millstone doesn't need a special deal, that such a deal would raise rates, and that concerns over the plant's future are unfounded," said spokesman Matt Fossen. "We hope that lawmakers will recall these facts, and further hope ISO's letter will put an end to this prolonged saga."

Read more

House passes Millstone bill

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