Millstone gets to make its case for market relief
Dominion Energy, the owner and operator of Millstone Power Station in Waterford, has apparently come to the realization that “trust us” is probably not going to do it when it comes to getting the new pricing policies it sees as necessary to keep the nuclear power plant viable.
This week came word that Dominion had provided state energy regulators with exhibits "containing confidential and proprietary financial data and calculations for Millstone Power Station." The state has agreed to keep the information out of the public domain.
For the past couple of years, Dominion has been trying to make the case that it faces the same stresses that have forced the closure of other nuclear plants in the country. Given current rules governing the price it can get for the electricity that Millstone’s two reactors generate, and the competition posed by low-price natural gas power plants, Dominion contends Millstone’s viability is in danger.
A Millstone closing would be bad news for this region. It provides about 1,500 jobs, most of them well paying. It also provides about 50 percent of the state’s electricity and does so with a production process that does not produce greenhouse emissions.
Culminating a fierce policy debate, Gov. Dannel P. Malloy signed a bill in October that would allow Millstone to sell some of the electricity it generates in a state-sponsored competitive bidding process now only open to renewable energy, which is also free of greenhouse emissions. But Millstone only gets this special treatment if the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection and the Public Utility Control Authority agree it is necessary and in the best interest of consumers.
Previously, Dominion had been unwilling to provide regulators with details on operational costs, revenue estimates, contract requirements and market strategies.
After a consultant hired by the state concluded, “Millstone’s financial prospects are bright” well into the future, based on the available information, it appears Dominion reconsidered. It remains to be seen whether this new, confidential data persuades regulators that things are not so bright without some market relief.
A draft report from DEEP and PURA is due soon.
All Dominion can ask for is a fair chance. It has that. Now it is up to the state to determine if relief is necessary for Millstone to continue operating or would simply be a means to boost Dominion’s bottom line, to the detriment of ratepayers.
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