HARTFORD, CT — Energy regulators opened their discussion about the future of the Millstone Nuclear Facility in Waterford with some questions about the economic viability of the facility, which is owned by Dominion Energy.
Questions were sent to Dominion Energy on Aug. 15 and regulators with the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection and the Public Utility Regulatory Authority are giving the company until Aug. 29 to provide a response.
Regulators are looking for 10 years of energy and capacity revenues and whether there are circumstances in which Dominion would elect not to hedge all of the majority of Millstone’s output in the forward financial market.
Dominion has been adamant in its position not to share financial information with regulators. The company has asked state legislators to allow them to directly bid on contracts without going through hedge funds. However, legislators have failed to pass legislation to allow Dominion to do so for two years in a row.
Dominion Energy didn’t testify during the public hearing Thursday. Neither did they submit any written comments.
Kevin Hennessy, director of federal, state, and local affairs in New England for Dominion, said they will respond “to reasonable requests in due time.”
He said the opponents and others have consistently mischaracterized the proposed legislation as a “subsidy” when “it was not.” He said Dominion doesn’t want a subsidy. It wants an opportunity to respond to state-sponsored requests for proposals — an opportunity that has been afforded “every other resource available except for three — nuclear is one of the three that has been excluded.”
He said Millstone should be treated equally.
The company is continuing to lobby lawmakers to include a provision for them in the state budget.
Meanwhile, Dominion has said it needs to assess whether to continue operating the facility.
The company has repeatedly said “the time for a study without action has passed.”
Paul Koonce, CEO of Dominion’s Power Generation Group, has said they have been talking with state officials and legislators for more than 21 months.
“Without action this year, the prospects for continued operation of Millstone diminish,” Koonce said.
He said in Wisconsin they engaged with government officials for 18 months before closing a nuclear plant in that state.
However, that doesn’t mean they’re not participating in the process.
Representatives of Dominion Energy were present for Thursday’s hearing.
A representative of Eversource said that “if Millstone does not produce relevant financial data, then DEEP and PURA should estimate Millstone’s current and projected expenses and revenues using the best available information. If Millstone declines to comply with this portion of the Order, then Eversource respectfully asks DEEP and PURA to conclude that Millstone has failed to demonstrate a legitimate economic need.”
Tom Swan, executive director of the Connecticut Citizens Action Group, said Dominion bought the plant under certain circumstances and now it wants to change them.
“Dominion bought the plant under these rules. They were extremely profitable for many years. They’re profitable now,” Swan said. “They asking for special rules.”
David Thomas, AARP Connecticut’s Volunteer Chairman for Economic Security, said there needs to be a demonstrated need before the rules for Millstone are changed.
“As a stockholder in Dominion, I know their job is to make as much money as they can,” Thomas said.
AARP objects to requiring ratepayers to subsidize or create any Connecticut-only funding mechanism for Millstone. Any discussion that would involve a subsidy for Millstone or leads to an increase in the costs of electricity for Connecticut ratepayers needs to recognize that Connecticut is in a regional market and Millstone serves the region, not just Connecticut.
“It’s unfathomable to me that we would consider doing that,” Swan said.
Regulators expect to issue a final report on Feb. 1, 2018.