The Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (DEEP) and the state's Office of Consumer Counsel (OCC) have made filings with the state's Public Utilities Regulatory Authority (PURA) seeking "at risk" status for Dominion Energy's Millstone nuclear plant.
If PURA deems Millstone at risk, it would make the nuclear plant eligible for above market rates in the state's solicitation for zero emission resources.
- DEEP has received 105 bids in in its zero emission request for proposals (RFP), the majority of them for above market rates, but Dominion's Millstone bid is the only one seeking at risk status.
Dominion has been lobbying for years for a mechanism to shore up its Millstone nuclear plant in Waterford, Connecticut. Last October, it was successful when the Connecticut legislature passed a bill that would allow Dominion to bid Millstone's output into a zero emission RFP. However, one of the controversies leading up to the passage of the bill is still in play.
Dominion lobbied for the legislation, arguing that Millstone is uneconomic in the current wholesale power market environment and would have to close, meeting the same fate as other New England nuclear plants, such as Pilgrim and Vermont Yankee, which were both operated by Entergy.
Opposition groups including "Stop the Millstone Payout" challenged Dominion's assertion, citing research by the MIT Center for Energy and Environmental Policy Research that found the Millstone is projected to be the most profitable nuclear plant in the U.S.
In February, a DEEP assessment found that Millstone was likely at risk, but the agency said it needed more information from Dominion. In August, Dominion entered a bid in the zero emission RFP as an at risk resource, clearing the way for DEEP to conduct an assessment using confidential financial data from Dominion.
Using that data, DEEP and OCC found that Millstone is at risk of closure by June 1, 2023.
PURA is scheduled to issue a draft report by Nov. 7 and a final decision on Millstone's status by the end of the year.
Meanwhile, reply briefs in the proceeding are due this Friday. The only parties that can file — and be granted access to the confidential Dominion financial data — are Eversource, United Illuminating, Dominion and the Clean Energy Investment Center (CIEC). The CIEC is the only party that has not yet filed.
Bidders into Connecticut's zero emission RFP can bid as an existing resource, a new resource or an at risk resource. New and at risk resources are eligible for above market rates as determined by PURA. Existing resources compete against PURA's projections of where wholesale power market prices are headed.
"We have been concerned about Millstone for a while," Kirsten Rigney, legal director at DEEP, told Utility Dive. "The purpose of the RFP is to help Connecticut meet its aggressive carbon reduction goals," she said.
Connecticut is aiming to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions 45% below 2001 levels by 2030 under Public Act 18-82, signed last June.