Dominion Energy's Millstone nuclear plant is eligible for a zero carbon resources bid under the categorization of an "at risk plant," after the Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (DEEP) filed a request for proposals (RFP) on Tuesday.
Dominion recently warned Connecticut regulators that the plant was at risk of shuttering after finding DEEP's original RFP wouldn't have allowed it to bid until June 2023.
- The new RFP sets the "At Risk Time Period" as starting in June 2022. During Dominion's second quarter earnings call on Wednesday, the company said it was "pleased that DEEP modified the 'at risk time period.'"
Dominion's Connecticut plant has been vying for economic relief from state regulators for a while, and the new RFP will help to keep it around.
In 2017, Connecticut passed a bill allowing Dominion to sell the majority of its output competitively with other zero-carbon resources. Critics of the bill at one point said the plant was not at risk, a theory supported by Dominion's reluctance to release its financial data earlier this year. However, pressure from state regulators swayed the plant into releasing some of that information, which DEEP and the Public Utilities Regulatory Authority (PURA) used to analyze the plant's viability.
They found that the plant could be economically viable through 2035, but its potential retirement after that date would increase carbon emissions by 25% in the region and cost taxpayers $5.5 billion.
"Short-term reliance on Millstone as a bridge to a cleaner energy future is justifiable as long as such reliance does not jeopardize the development of badly needed renewable sources," Claire Coleman, Climate and Energy Attorney at the Connecticut Fund for the Environment, told Utility Dive via email. "But increasing our reliance on Millstone as a zero emission power source — instead of building more offshore wind and solar and deploying critical energy storage — would be a huge disservice to the state."
Part of the RFP's requirements are that the eligible resources "provide reliable electricity that is in the best interest of the ratepayers and secure Zero Carbon Environmental Attributes consistent with the greenhouse gas emissions reduction targets under the Global Warming Solutions Act."
Resources eligible for the RFP bid include nuclear power, hydropower, paired and co-located energy storage and zero carbon class 1 projects. They must have a generational capacity greater than or equal to 2 MW. The maximum authorized procurement level in the RFP is 12,000,000 MWh per year.