- The Connecticut House of Representatives failed to pass a bill to explore financial support for the state's sole nuclear plant before the end of its regular legislative session on June 7, according to local media reports.
- The bill, passed by the Senate early that day, would have directed state energy officials to evaluate whether to hold a special power procurement for the Millstone plant. Operator Dominion threatened a "strategic reassessment" of the plant's viability if no bill passed this year.
- Lawmakers, however, extended the legislative session to June 30 to discuss budget issues, giving them another chance to discuss the bill. The CT Mirror reports it remains unclear whether the Millstone bill will be considered during that session.
Prospects for passage of a bill to support the Millstone plant have fluctuated wildly in the past week.
Over the weekend, leading lawmakers in the Senate pronounced the bill dead, calling it "toxic" and "literally radioactive."
But then Dominion began telling media outlets that it would conduct a review of the plant's financial viability, including the possibility of closure, if a bill to at least explore financial supports did not pass this year.
That, along with a push from Senate Republicans, was enough to revive portions of SB 106, which lawmakers passed 23-9 after 2 a.m. on Wednesday.
The revised bill was scaled back from an outright directive for nuclear power procurements to an authorization for the Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection to determine "whether a competitive procurement process for nuclear power generating facilities shall be conducted." Dominion said it was satisfied with the changes, so long as no legislative action would need to be taken in 2018.
A number of Senate Democrats bristled at the last-minute push from Dominion, saying they were being "bullied" into the vote. That skepticism reportedly carried over into the House, where Democratic leadership allowed only a symbolic debate on the bill before shelving it without a vote, according to the Mirror.
The support bill faltered last week as environmental and consumer advocates raised questions about the measure's costs and whether the Millstone plant is actually under financial pressure. A recent MIT study found Millstone to be the most profitable of the nation’s operating nuclear plants, and leading Democrats told the Hartford Courant that Dominion should open its books and allow a full accounting of the plant's economics.
Dominion officials expressed dismay at the bill's failure, but could get a second chance to pressure lawmakers in an extended legislative session ordered yesterday to discuss the state's budget.
If the company can secure passage in that session, it would follow the same narrative as Exelon's nuclear support victory in Illinois last year, when lawmakers passed a zero-emission credit (ZEC) program during extended budget deliberations.
In both Illinois and New York, where regulators approved ZECs last August, Exelon utilized a similar strategy to Dominion in threatening to close its plants if subsidies were not approved. The company also issued a similar ultimatum to Pennsylvania lawmakers last week regarding the Three Mile Island plant, which failed to clear PJM's latest capacity auction.
In addition to those states, FirstEnergy is threatening to close two nuclear plants in Ohio if lawmakers fail to approve subsidies, and PSEG is beginning a push for nuclear supports in New Jersey as well. The subsidies are controversial, with independent generators challenging the Illinois and New York programs in court and at the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission.