Dominion Energy loses legislative fight over Millstone pricing
A long, intense and expensive lobbying campaign by Dominion Energy has failed to find the votes in the Connecticut General Assembly for legislation intended to improve the profitability of its Millstone Nuclear Power Station by changing the rules for procuring electricity.
“It’s dead. It’s a toxic brand now, literally radioactive,” Rep. Lonnie Reed, D-Branford, the co-chair of the Energy and Technology Committee. “Let’s let it go and figure out a new way.”
Dominion said it was seeking changes that would lower electric rates and stabilize profits generated by the state’s only nuclear-power plant, the source of nearly half of Connecticut’s electricity and most of its carbon-free energy. Opponents say the bill would cost ratepayers and produce a windfall for the plant’s owner, Dominion.
In interviews Friday night and Saturday, key legislators told CT Mirror that a Senate bill sought by Dominion over the opposition of environmentalists, consumer groups, other energy producers and the utility Eversource cannot go forward, unless it is reduced to a call for a study.
Senate Majority Leader Bob Duff, D-Norwalk, and Sen. Gary Winfield, D-New Haven, another energy co-chair, said in interviews Friday night that a concept passed unanimously by the Senate a year ago, only to be blocked in the House, no longer has even a simple majority.
Only Sen. Paul Formica, R-East Lyme, an energy co-chair whose district includes Millstone, declined to concede defeat, interrupting a somber conversation with Winfield to say only, “The session’s been a struggle.”
But a small army of Dominion officials and lobbyists, a visible presence at the State Capitol on Friday, had decamped on Saturday, when only the House was in session.
Kevin R. Hennessy, a Dominion government affairs executive, said failure to pass the bill would be a loss for Connecticut.
“The status quo, which our opponents champion, is not working for Connecticut,” he said. “It would be surprising and a missed opportunity for Connecticut not to reduce the highest electric rates in the continental United States, meet its long-term carbon goals and ensure the sustainability of a major employer this year given the events of this week.”
In the year since the Senate passed the original bill, Dominion’s opponents have mounted a lobbying and advertising campaign that matched or even exceeded the effort by Dominion.
“That full-on bill is not going to happen. Anything more than a study is not going to happen,” Reed said. “Dominion doesn’t want a watered-down bill. They want to play hardball in the post-session atmosphere.”