14 environmental, energy, consumer groups oppose Millstone bill

Fourteen environmental, energy and consumer protection groups on Monday sent a letter to state legislative leaders urging that they not pass legislation in an upcoming special session designed to help the Millstone Power Station in Waterford.

The proposed bill, which supporters contend would help stabilize the nuclear power plant against volatile energy prices and preserve the state’s largest producer of carbon emissions free power, would instead “distract from growing the state’s solar and wind industries,” said Laura McMillan, spokeswoman for the Connecticut Fund for the Environment/Save the Sound, one of the groups that signed the letter.

“Propping up an outdated, expensive technology like nuclear power, while shying away from ripe opportunities in clean energy and efficiency, is counter-productive,” the letter states. “… if Millstone is allowed to sell their power above the wholesale market price, Connecticut electric customers will likely end up footing the bill …”

In addition, the letter states, Millstone is asking for the measure “at a time when it is projected to be the most profitable nuclear plant in the United States,” citing a Massachusetts Institute of Technology study. Groups signing the letter include Clean Water Action, the Citizens Campaign for the Environment, the Connecticut Citizen Action Group, the Connecticut League of Conservation Voters, Environment Connecticut, the Sierra Club and SolarConnecticut. It was sent to Sen. Martin Looney, D-New Haven; Sen. Len Fasano, R-North Haven; Rep. Joe Aresimowicz, D-Berlin; and Rep. Themis Klarides, R-Derby; as well as Gov. Dannel P. Malloy.

Supporters of the bill contend consumers would not pay higher prices as a result. While it passed in the state Senate during the regular session but died in the House of Representatives, it could be revisited in an upcoming special session.

The letter less than a week after a spokesman for Millstone owner Dominion Resources said the company is moving forward with a "strategic assessment" of the Millstone Power Station and contacted ISO New England to understand options available to cease operations, if the company decides to do so.

It also comes two weeks after the group Environmental Progress sent a letter to Malloy and legislative leaders urging them to support the Millstone bill to preserve nuclear power as a carbon-free power source. If Connecticut loses Millstone, that letter states, power produced by fossil fuels would likely fill the void. Millstone produces 96 percent of the state’s zero-emission electricity, 46 times more than wind and solar combined. Signers of that letter included 30 leading scientists, conservationists and environmental activists, including James Hansen, Richard Rhodes, Robert Stone and Steven Pinker.

 


 

Below is the original letter sent to legislative leaders:

 


 

July 3, 2017

The Honorable Martin Looney

State Senate

Legislative Office Building

Hartford, Connecticut 06106-1591

 

Dear Senator Looney, Senator Fasano, Representative Aresimowicz, and Representative Klarides:

Connecticut lawmakers are faced with a double challenge: lowering electric bills and lowering climate change pollution.1 While there are many policy fixes that could address these challenges, a special deal for Millstone Nuclear Power Plant at the exclusive expense of Connecticut ratepayers is not the answer to either problem. Connecticut should set a path to replace the facility with renewable energy and efficiency in the coming years, not put an anchor around our state with a subsidy for Millstone's old technology. After all, planning for Connecticut's energy future makes sense, but favoring one uncompetitive technology at the expense of clean energy does not.2

Millstone is bad for ratepayers

Propping up an outdated, expensive technology like nuclear power, while shying away from ripe opportunities in clean energy and efficiency, is counter-productive. Ratepayers have already paid to subsidize Millstone once, and if Millstone is allowed to sell their power above the wholesale market price, Connecticut electric customers will likely end up footing the bill again. ENERGYZT's recent financial assessment estimates that a contract with Millstone could cost each residential customer in Connecticut 15 to 20 percent more. A report released by Bloomberg Intelligence in March found that expanding state aid to nuclear plant owners across the eastern U.S. could cost New England ratepayers $3.9 billion a year in higher power bills. Millstone provides energy to the entire Northeast; Connecticut ratepayers should not bear the cost alone.

And Millstone is asking for this special treatment despite the fact that from now to 2019 it is projected to be the most profitable nuclear plant in the United States. Early Nuclear Retirements in Deregulated U.S. Markets: Causes, Implications and Policy Options, a MIT Center for Energy and Environmental Policy Research study, assessed the financial outlook of nuclear plants across the United States and determined that Millstone is the most profitable among the 61 commercially operating plants in the country, with a projected net profit of $14.80 per megawatt hour of energy produced. That translates to approximately $250 million per year.3

These all lead to one conclusion: a Millstone special deal is the wrong approach at the wrong time.

Millstone is a threat to Connecticut's long-term renewable energy future

The data presented to the Connecticut Governor's Council on Climate Change is clear: to meet climate pollution reduction mandates we must invest in energy efficiency and make renewable energy the feature of our electric sector. However, if rates go up to support nuclear, there will be less room for the investments that will be necessary to expand zero-carbon energy efficiency and renewable energy generation here in Connecticut.  In addition, a Millstone special deal further opens the door to other non-clean energy resources, like regional natural gas pipelines, to seek special out of market subsidy deals through rate add-ons, which would have cascading environmental consequences for the state. Our leaders should be investing in the clean energy economy by facilitating the development of more solar and wind power and modernizing our electric grid so that when it is time for Millstone's inevitable retirement, we have clean and efficient energy replacements online. These are not just pro-environment policies, these are pro-consumer policies. Building a renewable energy economy now will save consumers money in the long term, and provide stable, secure, diversified energy sources.

Renewable energy sources like solar and wind not only provide long-term cost savings for consumers, but will help our state create badly needed jobs. Clean energy is one of the fastest growing sectors of the economy, and installation of renewable energy facilities primarily utilizes local workers, so investment dollars are kept in our communities. According to the Solar Foundation's most recent jobs census, one out of every 50 new jobs added in the United States in 2016 was created by the solar industry. In Connecticut, there were over 2000 solar jobs last year. A January 2017 report by U.S. Department of Energy, meanwhile, found that solar makes up the largest segment of Connecticut's electric power generation workforce, with 2,927 jobs. Increasing in-state development of renewables, and partnerships with other states to secure off-shore wind, will mean more high- quality jobs and economic growth in Connecticut.

The bottom line is that investing in a clean energy future is a good deal for Connecticut. Giving special deals to expensive, old nuclear technologies is not. Millstone is asking you to risk a clean energy, renewable future and increase ratepayer burdens, but they have been unwilling to prove their burden: that a special deal, at Connecticut's exclusive expense, is required for this particular facility at this particular moment.  We ask that you not be baited into a false debate about environmental issues. We ask that you instead protect the citizen s of the state from being saddled with yet another cost, and in this case, a needless one.

We would welcome the opportunity to meet with you at your earliest convenience. Please contact Leah

Schmalz (203.787.0646 ext. 121; lschmalz@ctenvironment.org) with any questions or to schedule a discussion.

Sincerely,

Bill Dornbos                                                                                                   Peter Millman

Acadia Center                                                                              Eastern Connecticut Green Action

Joel N. Gordes                                                                                                Leticia Colon de Mejias

Center for Energy Security Solutions                                                          Efficiency for All

Green Eco Warriors

Melissa Everett                                                                                              Chris Phelps

Clean Water Action                                                                                      Environment Connecticut

Lou Burch                                                                                                       Andy Bauer

Citizens Campaign for the Environment                                        Portland Clean Energy Taskforce

Tom Swan                                                                                                       Martin Mador

Connecticut Citizen Action Group                                                               Sierra Club

Leah Schmalz                                                                                                 Mike Trahan

Connecticut Fund for the Environment/Save the Sound                                                                                                             SolarConnecticut

Lori Brown

Connecticut League of Conservation Voters

Cc: Governor Dannel P. Malloy

 


 

 

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