Dominion would begin 'strategic reassessment' of plans for Millstone if legislation fails

Waterford — A spokesman for Dominion Energy raised the stakes in its battle with lawmakers on Monday, saying the company would "begin a strategic reassessment of our plans for Millstone Power Station" if the General Assembly does not act on proposed legislation before the end of the session.

The proposed bill, S.B. 106, would allow Millstone to sell energy directly to electric utilities.

"The status quo, which our opponents champion, is not working for Connecticut," Dominion spokesman Ken Holt said in a written statement Monday evening. "It would be surprising and a missed opportunity for Connecticut not to reduce the highest electric rates in the continental United States, meet its long-term carbon goals, and ensure the sustainability of a major employer this year given recent events.

"We remain committed to finding a long-term solution that benefits the people of Connecticut, but we also must be fiscally responsible with our investments," Holt continued. "We will begin a strategic reassessment of our plans for Millstone Power Station."

He added that it was "premature to say what those plans may be."

State Sen. Paul Formica, R-East Lyme, who is co-chairman of the Energy and Technology Committee and a sponsor of the bill, said Monday evening that he is hopeful the General Assembly will be able to get something done before the session ends Wednesday night.

"We've known all along that this is a very important effort not only for the company but for the ratepayers and for energy stability," he said.

The legislation would enable Millstone, the state's top electricity generator, to sell up to 950 megawatts of the 2,100 megawatts it produces in a five-year contract directly to Eversource and United Illuminating. Millstone's energy is currently sold through contracts with third-party hedge funds and Wall Street institutions.

Advocates say the measure would provide stability for Millstone and help consumers at a time when cheap natural gas prices are causing volatility in the energy markets and reducing the plant's profits. But opponents say it would serve to unnecessarily boost profits for Dominion.

Formica has said the legislation would also put the state on a path toward deriving 40 percent of its power from renewable energy sources including large hydroelectric, wind, solar, fuel cells, anaerobic digesters and biomass by 2040.

James Daly, vice president of Energy Supply for Eversource Energy, an opponent of the bill, has argued that Dominion already can sell its power directly to electric utilities in one-year contracts, rather than selling through a middleman.

“The only reason for this legislation is to allow them to gain higher revenue so they can sell the power for higher prices,” he has told The Day.

In Feb. 7 testimony to the Senate's Energy and Technology Committee, he wrote that Millstone has not demonstrated a financial need.

But others, like Tony Sheridan, the president and CEO of the Chamber of Commerce of Eastern Connecticut, argued that the bill would encourage a more competitive energy environment that would benefit the consumer.

"If the legislation is passed and Dominion is the selected bidder, Connecticut will enjoy all of Millstone's carbon-free attributes and the economic impacts that the station brings too," he wrote in his Feb. 7 testimony to the Senate's Energy and Technology Committee. "Millstone is an important economic entity producing over $1.5 billion in annual economic benefits for Connecticut."

k.drelich@theday.com

Day Staff Writer Judy Benson contributed to this report.

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