Regulators reaffirm secrecy of Millstone data

Dominion Millstone Nuclear Power Station pictured from the air on May 11, 2005. (Sean D. Elliot/photo)
Dominion Millstone Nuclear Power Station pictured from the air on May 11, 2005. (Sean D. Elliot/photo)

Waterford — Regulators on Tuesday reaffirmed they would keep secret the confidential Millstone Power Station financial data turned over by plant owner Dominion, which claims state energy market reforms are needed to keep the facility operational.

The Department of Energy and Environmental Protection and the Public Utilities Regulatory Authority said Dominion's recently released redacted documents — including several blacked-out tables of Millstone's financial outlook — constitute "financially sensitive data and calculations relating to cost and revenue projections" that are exempt from public disclosure.

Dominion hopes regulators will open the state's bidding process so Millstone can sell electricity to the state in competition with renewable energy. The push comes in the wake of high operational costs and competition from cheap natural gas, which have led some U.S. energy companies to shutter nuclear plants or consider premature closures.

DEEP and PURA are reviewing Millstone's economic viability and will produce a report with energy market recommendations on Feb. 1. So far, the agencies have said Millstone will remain profitable for years, but Dominion argues regulators fail to account for the plant's higher-than-normal operating costs.

On Tuesday, DEEP and PURA also said a December motion from Dominion competitor NRG was moot; NRG had sought to narrow what it described as an overly broad protective order that sealed documents previously shared with regulators in late November.

NRG called on Dominion to publicize titles on confidential documents, and suggested regulators should require Dominion to release public redacted versions.

To "set the record straight," according to Millstone spokesman Ken Holt, Dominion last week released redacted versions of a PowerPoint presentation highlighting expenses and revenue projections for Millstone.

"There was a lot of misinformation being spread about Dominion Energy not sharing information with DEEP and PURA," Holt said. "We wanted to eliminate that perception ... and show the very specific information that we shared to help DEEP and PURA make their decision."

But David Gaier, an NRG spokesman, argued Tuesday that "even a casual observer can see that, redacted or not, Dominion submitted only unaudited and extremely superficial information in the form of a PowerPoint presentation."

NRG is one of several power companies and distributors pushing against market reforms desired by Dominion, arguing Millstone will remain profitable without state support.

But a host of state and local officials strongly back Millstone, saying the plant provides massive economic benefits while reliably providing electricity without the level of carbon emissions released by other sources.

b.kail@theday.com

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