Ritter: Energy generation tax hurting ratepayers as well as Millstone plant

Waterford - Dominion officials and state Rep. Betsy Ritter, D-Waterford, urged local residents on Thursday to keep up pressure on state lawmakers to ensure a tax on the Millstone Power Station is allowed to expire June 30, instead of being continued as Gov. Dannel P. Malloy's budget plan proposes.

"Dominion has been absorbing this tax for two years, but we're just not going to do that anymore," said Dan Weekley, vice president of government affairs for Dominion, owner of the Millstone plants.

Instead, the $43 million the plant pays annually in the two-year-old energy generation tax, originally enacted as a temporary budget-balancing measure, would be passed on to customers in higher utility rates, Weekley said.

Connecticut already pays the highest utility rates in the nation - 16.22 cents per kilowatt hour compared to the New England average of 14.7 cents per kilowatt hour, and the national average of 10.11 cents, according to figures provided by Dominion.

Weekley spoke during Dominion's annual meeting with neighbors of the Millstone nuclear power plant Thursday. Also among the 35 attending the meeting at Filomena's Restaurant were local officials and business owners.

The legislature's Finance, Revenue and Bonding Committee is slated today to release an alternative tax package that would not include the energy generation tax, according to Ritter. Earlier this week, state Sen. Andrea Stillman, D-Waterford, said the finance committee had agreed to a path that would enable the energy generation tax to sunset. Stillman is a member of the committee.

Ritter urged those at the meeting to continue to lobby against the tax because it would hurt ratepayers and the Millstone plant, which with 1,300 full-time workers is one of the region's largest employers. After the finance committee releases its alternative proposal, there will be several more weeks of debate between the full legislature and the governor's office before a final budget is adopted, she noted.

"Keep those letters coming," she said. "This probably won't be resolved until the first week of June."

Other New England states in the regional power pool have raised strong objections to the tax continuing in Connecticut, the only state with such a levy, Weekley said.

"We've heard from other states that they could bring legal action, because this will make all our rates go up as a result," he said.

j.benson@theday.com

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