Lower rates or big power play by big power company?

HARTFORD, Conn. (WTNH) — Will it lower your electric rates, or is it just a big power play by a big power company?

Those are the questions state lawmakers are asking as they contemplate one of the most heavily lobbied issues of the General Assembly session. The owners of Millstone, New England’s largest nuclear power plant, have flooded the airwaves trying to convince state lawmakers to help them with this. But an unusual alliance of consumer groups and others are stacked up against it.

According to research done by M.I.T.; the Millstone Nuclear Power plant in Waterford is projected to be the most profitable nuclear plant in the nation for the foreseeable future. Virginia based Dominion Resources, which owns the plant, is asking state lawmakers to allow them to cut out the middle man wholesale market when they sell their electricity and instead sell it directly in the state’s energy auction which they say will result in lower electric rates for Connecticut residents.

Related Content: Inside Millstone Nuclear Power Station: People Powering Connecticut

“Doesn’t mandate that they buy anything. They would take a bid. Millstone would bid in and offer a low price bid and if the regulators selected it every customer in Connecticut would have lower rates,”  said Dominion’s Kevin Hennessy.  The Millstone owners also say this would give them more predictability and stability in marketing their power.

But the push by Millstone has forged an unusual alliance between the state’s two biggest power distributors; Eversource and U-I have joined together saying it will absolutely not lower electric rates.  Tony Marone is President and C.E.O. United Illuminating and says  “What it really does it creates a subsidy the Connecticut rate payers would be paying for Millstone to continue.  We already believe that it’s a very profitable facility and does not need that support.”

Related Content: Connecticut nuclear plant seeks to bid on state contracts

A huge coalition of other power suppliers, environmental and consumer groups have all joined U.I. and Eversource in opposing this bill.  Dominion notes that several nuclear plants have closed for economic reasons, including ones in Massachusetts and New York.

Some state lawmakers are convinced this will protect consumers and jobs.  Among them, State Sen. Heather Somers (R-Groton) who says, “They have closed other power plants. We cannot afford to do that. It’s 1,100 jobs in Southeast Connecticut which again, we cannot afford to lose any more  jobs in Connecticut and it’s the right thing to do.”

But when asked about the bill the Speaker of the House, Rep. Joe Aresimowicz (D-Berlin) said bluntly,  “In all honesty, I have trouble with that bill.”  The leaders that control the agenda are skeptical saying they need to know if Millstone is really having difficulty providing power under the current system.   Aresimowicz adding,  “If it’s a question of; they want increased profits and believe that they deserve it, I’m not sure that I’m ready to have that conversation.”

The Governor‘s office says they have “serious concerns” about this bill but are willing to hear from all sides before making a final judgement.

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