AARP wants disclosure, protections for ratepayers in Millstone bill

The Connecticut chapter of the American Association of Retired Persons is voicing reservations about a bill being proposed in the General Assembly that would reduce Millstone Power Station owner Dominion Resources’ vulnerability to falling energy prices by allowing the company to sell electricity directly to the state’s two main distributors, Eversource and United Illuminating.

Under the bill being considered, the power would be sold through a bid process that competes against renewable power producers for long-term contracts. At present, nuclear power is not allowed into the state bid process designed to advance renewable energy and reduce greenhouse gas emissions, although the plant produces power without carbon emissions.

Dominion currently sells the 2,111 megawatts of electricity generated at the Waterford nuclear power plant to third-party brokers. The current bill is a “placeholder,” with exact language yet to be determined.

During an Energy and Technology Committee forum on Tuesday, about 20 members of AARP wore red T-shirts with the slogan “No disclosure equals no subsidies for Dominion.” John Erlingheuser, advocacy director for AARP Connecticut, said the organization is trying to protect ratepayers.

The company, he said, “is trying to boost profits. It shouldn’t be done on the backs of ratepayers.”

Erlingheuser said he would oppose any bill that does not require the company to disclose profits from the plant and guarantee that ratepayers would not end up paying higher utility costs.

“They owe it to the ratepayers to show there is a need for this,” he said.

In two reports this month, Dominion has sought to build a case for the measure by quantifying the plant's contribution to the New England economy and showing that if the plant were to close, both electricity costs and carbon emissions would rise substantially as Millstone’s power is replaced by natural gas-fired plants.

Currently, the plant supplies about 60 percent of the power consumed in Connecticut.

Ken Holt, spokesman for Millstone, said the bids that Millstone would submit would be reviewed by several state agencies, and if costs are too high, they would be rejected.

“That’s how consumers would be protected,” he said. “This is not a subsidy. This is just an opportunity for us to put in a bid.”

j.benson@theday.com

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