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Some say energy bill not so green: CT Post unpacks truths behind Senate Bill 106

View original article on CT Post

A revised green-energy bill that environmentalists and the AARP believe unfairly favors the owner of the Millstone nuclear plant in Waterford is heading for a showdown vote next week in a key legislative committee.

Opponents say the legislation is essentially a giveaway to Dominion Energy, but the company says Millstone Power Station, which provides about 60 percent of Connecticut’s power needs, fits green-energy criteria and could save ratepayers money.

The state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection has some problems with the bill, but is willing to keep revising it with legislative leaders as the session heads toward its June 7 adjournment.

Dominion officials say that if they can’t offer consumers relief from what are already the highest electric rates in the continental U.S., then as many as four levels of state regulators — including the attorney general and the consumer counsel — could reject Dominion.

The bill that the Energy & Technology Committee will vote on Tuesday afternoon was rewritten by legislators following a recent public hearing. John Erlingheuser, advocacy director for the AARP Connecticut, said the bill is still “anti-ratepayer” because it would lead to higher electric bills.

“I think the motive here is Dominion keeps saying this is a bill to allow fairness and to have them provide lower electric rates,” Erlingheuser said in an interview, charging that the giant energy company wants to avoid public disclosure.

“The irony of that is that, as a private company, they have an obligation to their shareholders to get the highest prices they can for electricity, therefore the highest profits,” he said. “It’s basically a giveaway, because if Dominion wanted to have contracts for electricity … with Eversource and UI, they can do that under the law now, but those contracts would have to be in a cost-to-service basis, meaning expenses and a reasonable rate of return would be all they’re entitled to. They don’t want to do that because they want no transparency — they don’t want to open their books to ratepayers.”

Erlingheuser said he expects the committee will move the bill to the Senate floor, as Dominion portrays its product as a non-carbon-emitting nuclear fuel which is not renewable and produces the problematic spent fuel rods that will be stored on the site until the federal government comes up with a long-term storage solution.

Nancy Burton, of Redding, director of the Connecticut Coalition Against Millstone, said the plant emits radioactive Carbon 14, a greenhouse-gas component, into the air over the plant.

“I am honestly outraged at the process that the committee is following on this bill,” Burton said, recalling that the recent public hearing was based on a one-sentence description of the legislation. Still, many environmentalists from throughout the state opposed it.

“The idea of the nuclear industry coming in to squeeze out the trivial funding there is for renewable energy, it boggles the mind,” Burton said. “It boggles the mind. the whole process is a travesty — there’s no good reason to do this.”

Kevin Hennessy, Dominion’s director of federal, state and local affairs, said Friday that the bill would continue a long-established practice of public solicitations to buy power, while allowing Millstone to compete along with solar, wind, large-scale hydro from Quebec and other renewables.

“You have the highest retail electric rates in the country,” Hennessy said in a phone interview. “Over the last decade you’ve paid 7 1/2 cents per kilowatt hour, not including delivery charges. We feel extremely confident, if given opportunity to bid, we can reduce the 7 1/2 cents number in the best interest of ratepayers.”

Hennessy said that the DEEP, the attorney general and the consumer counsel would all review proposals, with oversight by the Department of Public Utility Control.

“It’s simply buying power smarter,” he said.

Dennis Schain, communications director for the DEEP, said Friday that the agency, which still has concerns about the bill, would continue to work with lawmakers and stakeholders in attempt to reach a consensus.

“Consideration of the future of Millstone is an issue worthy of discussion, given the large percent of power it contributes to the regional grid, the fact that this energy does not create carbon emissions linked to climate change, and the number of jobs provided at this facility,” Schain said.

“Any bill the legislature considers should clearly define the circumstances under which we would want to use the procurement authority it would provide,” Schain said. “The bill should also make clear that the interests of ratepayers would be fully considered and protected before moving forward with a procurement – including potential impacts a procurement of this magnitude would have on energy markets.”

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Millstone News National News

Vote NO on Senate Bill 106 – on Tuesday, March 21st

Appeal to Energy & Technology Committee Members:
Restore Your Committee’s Integrity
Vote NO on Senate Bill 106

The General Assembly’s Energy & Technology Committee is poised to vote on Senate Bill 106 on Tuesday, March 21, 2017 , at 2 PM .

You must vote NO to restore your Committee’s integrity.

Senate Bill 106 is the product of a dirty backroom deal between the Committee leadership – chiefly Sen. Paul M. Formica – and Dominion, which owns and operates Millstone, New England ’s dirtiest and most dangerous nuclear power plant.

Formica’s Senate district includes Waterford , site of Millstone, which the U.S. Department of Homeland Security identifies as Connecticut ’s first most dangerous terrorist target. It is a pre-deployed weapon of mass destruction, sheltering on its 500-acre site on Long Island Sound thousands of tons of lethal high-level radioactive waste. It is within roughly 50 miles of Hartford, New Haven, Providence RI and most of eastern Long Island where millions of innocent families live.

Formica’s sweetheart deal with Millstone is so dirty he had to develop it in secret with Dominion outside the democratic process.

He called a public hearing on Bill 106 on February 2, 2017 when the bill consisted of one meaningless sentence:

“That title16a of the general statutes be amended to provide a mechanism for zero-carbon electric generating facilities to sell power to electric utilities.”

Even so, statewide opposition to the bill was nearly unanimous. Of the 29 organizations and businesses that submitted statements, Connecticut’s entire pro-environmental community, including the Connecticut Coalition Against Millstone, voiced fierce opposition to the bill.

A unique coalition from the energy industry, including the state’s biggest suppliers of electricity, voiced fierce opposition to the bill.

Virtually all who voiced support for the bill have some financial or business connection, stated or unstated, to Dominion.

What would the bill that was the subject of the public hearing do?

Hard to say, as the one-sentence bill lacked any substance.

But Formica talked up the one-sentence bill to the news media as a necessary means to assure that Millstone would continue to provide “baseload” (round-the-clock) power to Connecticut.

But Dominion, at the public hearing, insisted it had no plans to shutter Millstone nor remove baseload power from the grid. Nor would it voluntarily open its books to demonstrate to the legislators any kind of economic hardship justifying legislative intervention on its behalf.

Yet, Dominion’s representatives spoke in detail about a bill that consisted of one sentence – the “stealth” bill.

All the while, Formica kept the real bill, doubtless drafted in Dominion’s company, in his back pocket.

Two weeks later, on the eve of the March 14 blizzard, Formica released the contents of the now 12-page single-spaced amended Senate Bill 106 to the news media and announced an Energy and Technology vote on the amended bill – without convening a public hearing on it – a week later, on Tuesday, March 21, 2017 at 2 PM.

In essence, the amended bill would allow Dominion, the producer of the dirtiest, most dangerous electricity known to mankind, to compete with the fledgling clean-energy producers (chiefly wind and solar) to sell electricity at above-market rates. (Meanwhile, by all accounts, Dominion is making robust profits.) It would allow this without first studying the effects such a dubious giveaway would have on the start-up clean, sustainable energy producers, let alone the inevitable ratepayer squeeze.

Here’s the headline that could have run in the tabloids:

“Formica/Dominion to Connecticut:
Screw clean, sustainable energy!
Screw the ratepayers!
Screw the democratic process!”

In essence, the amended bill provides the classic case of a legislative sweetheart deal inimical to the public interest promoted by a legislator with close ties to the bill’s sole beneficiary, a deep-pocketed corporation.

No wonder Formica kept the details in his back pocket during the public hearing confined to a one-sentence bill.

By the way, CTN, Connecticut’s quasi-public TV network which customarily provides archival video coverage of legislative hearings of important public significance, was told by someone on the Committee that the turnout for the February 2 public hearing was expected to be “minimal,” even though the Committee leadership had hailed the bill for months in the news media as the most important bill of the 2017 legislative season. That’s what a CTN representative told us when we inquired why CTN had no plans to cover the event and could not be persuaded to cover the event. As it happened, the turn-out in opposition to the bill was of standing-room-only capacity.

You, the voting members of the Energy & Technology Committee, must block this brazen anti-democratic act of subterfuge and betrayal of the public trust.

Your failure to do so will frustrate and flummox development of a successful clean-energy economy in Connecticut in favor of a failed, dangerous technology that would not persist but for billions in taxpayer subsidies already paid out.

You must restore the integrity of the Energy and Technology Committee or allow it to be exposed to outside investigation in the public interest.

VOTE NO to Bill 106 on March 21.

Sincerely,

Nancy Burton
Director
Connecticut Coalition Against Millstone
147 Cross Highway
Redding CT 06896
NancyBurtonCT@aol.com

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Millstone News National News

NRC To Hold Annual Millstone Assessment Meeting on March 22nd

NRC to hold Annual Millstone Assessment Meeting

March 22, 2017 at the Waterford Public Library

From 6 pm – 8 pm

MEETING INFO

The meeting will address the NRC’s most recent Millstone assessment letter released on March 13, 2017:

https://www.nrc.gov/reactors/operating/oversight/letters/mill_2016q4.pdf

The Nuclear Energy Advisory Committee will host the event, which is open to the public. The library is located at 49 Rope Ferry Road in Waterford.
Following a presentation by the NRC and an opportunity for questions by NEAC members, the public is invited to address questions.

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Millstone News Uncategorized

Dominion Propaganda About Millstone Pops Up at the Strangest Places

We were cruising the Internet on Wednesday (3/15/17) after reading “The Shepherd’s Life,” a glorious meditation on raising sheep and living a pastoral idyll in England’s fabled Lake District of Cumbria, because the best-seller published in 2015 inspired a need to know more.

The Shepherd's lifeFor one thing, we were struck to learn that sheep in this remote region in the northwest of England just below Scotland were still being monitored for traces of radioactivity from Chernobyl, which exploded far away in Ukraine in 1986, as recently as 2012. Then there was the matter of the author’s aunt’s death from cancer – she had a sheep farm nearby – and his own father’s death from cancer. His father was herding sheep at the age of 8 in the Lake District when the notorious Sellafield (formerly “Windscale”) fire erupted in 1957 at Britain’s plutonium factory on the Irish Sea, just an hour’s drive to the west. The fire raged for three days, releasing enormous radioactivity to the environment, a fact deliberately suppressed by the government. Sheep were found dead across the scenic valleys. Of course, we also wondered what caused the mysterious rash of miscarriages among the author’s sheep one recent spring.

As author James Rebanks writes, when an inspector in a white protective suit showed up on the family farm with Geiger counters clicking in his hand soon after Chernobyl, “It added to the general impression of my youth that the wider world was stupendously fucked up. It felt like the whole modern world wanted to rob me of the life I wanted to lead.”

We found ourselves visiting an online British news site – http://www.telegraph.co.uk/men/11475493/Could-you-handle-life-as-a-modern-day-shepherd.html
– to learn more when our online viewing was interrupted by an ad from “Dominion Millstone”! This British website automatically opened with an alert directed to Connecticut residents asking them if they know they pay the highest electricity rates in the U.S.A.

Readers of The Telegraph, like us, who had clicked on the site to read the article about James Rebanks – “Could you handle life as a modern-day shepherd” – were enticed to divert their attention from that article to another site promoting the Millstone bailout bill – Connecticut Senate Bill 106 – at http://poweringct.com/?src=2.

“More information” was a click away. “What to do” was another click away, as the familiar image of Millstone appeared onscreen over the tabloid copy.

Readers were encouraged to sign their names, addresses, zipcodes and emails to a form supporting the bill. Of course, Dominion’s arguments in the ad are bogus, false and misleading.

This happened on Wednesday (March 14), the day after the blizzard that crippled Connecticut, shutting down Connecticut government, and just two days after the Energy and Technology Committee first released the full text of the proposed bill to the public. The earlier version was one sentence long and so vague as to be meaningless.

Lessons of this true story:

  • The nuclear menace is everywhere
  • Time to find out if Dominion has an inside track to the Energy and Technology Committee leadership. By the way, did Dominion’s lawyers write the revised bill?
  • Dominion is tossing out money hand over fist in its propaganda drive to fleece electric customers and steal funding for safe, clean renewable energy
  • We need to shut Millstone, not prolong its dirty, unsafe operations

Recommended sources:

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Alerts Millstone News National News

NRC CONVENES PUBLIC MEETING 3/8/17 ON PETITION TO CLOSE AT-RISK REACTORS INCLUDING MILLSTONE UNIT 2

The U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) is convening a public meeting on March 8, 2017 on a petition to close at-risk nuclear reactors, including Millstone Unit 2, for inspection and testing of suspect Areva-Creusot Forge major components.

The NRC’s Petition Review Board will conduct the public meeting at its Rockville MD headquarters from 10 AM to 12 noon with petitioner Beyond Nuclear and co-petitioners, including the Connecticut Coalition Against Millstone, regarding 18 U.S. nuclear reactors deemed at-risk of potential catastrophic failure due to a critical loss of quality control of French-manufactured reactor pressure vessels, steam generators and reactor pressurizers.

Areva identified Millstone Unit 2, which operates with a pressurizer manufactured by Areva, in an ongoing global controversy concerning a loss of control of the manufacturing process as well as quality control documentation and potentially forged, falsified or incomplete quality control reports.

Such deficiencies in the manufacturing process may weaken steel components critical to continuous nuclear operations, leaving them vulnerable to rapid tearing, fracture and catastrophic failure during operation.

In addition to Millstone, three other nuclear reactors operated by Dominion (North Anna 1 and 2 and Surry 1, all in Virginia) were identified by Areva as having potentially defective parts.

The NRC is providing a telephone bridge line for interested members of the news media to listen in to the meeting and raise questions. Contact Merrilee Banic at Merrilee.Banic@nrc.gov.