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 Millstone

Millstone

Lawmakers in Connecticut want to help Dominion Resources Inc’s Millstone plant. in order to preserve jobs and maintain the generator’s zero-emissions power. Dominion is lobbying for the aid.

States are mulling ways to prop up nuclear plants as wholesale power prices collapse amid competition from cheap natural gas-fired generation.

Concerns have spread to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, which is planning to review the impact of subsidies for nuclear power.

Booming gas production from reserves in the Northeast helped drive revenues in New England’s energy market to the lowest in 13 years in 2016, according to ISO New England Inc., operator of the six-state market. Millstone will be just one of two nuclear plants left in the region after Entergy Corp. closes its Pilgrim station in Massachusetts in 2019 amid falling profits.

Connecticut state Senator Paul Formica, a Republican whose district includes Waterford where the reactor is located, introduced legislation in January that he said would allow Millstone to sell power to Connecticut’s utilities at above-market rates. 

Millstone, the state’s only nuclear plant, has commitments to supply New England through at least 2020. Its two reactors are licensed by federal regulators to run until 2035 and 2045. The generator provides $1.5 billion in economic benefits annually to Connecticut while supporting almost 4,000 jobs, according to Dominion’s website.

Exelon and Entergy set a precedent for other operators when in August they won subsidies totaling about $500 million a year from New York for three plants. In December, Illinois approved a $235 million-a-year lifeline for the Quad Cities and Clinton nuclear facilities after Exelon announced plans to shutter the reactors. (Bloomberg, 2/21/2017)