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Dominion: No Ifs, Ands Or Buts, We Will Shut Down

If SB 1176 Is Passed, And Contracts Cannot Be Changed

There are two possible outcomes if is passed, Dominion Vice President of Government Affairs Dan Weekley said at a hearing in Waterford Town Hall on Monday night. Both increase electric rates dramatically, he said.

The first is that the $335 million in new taxes will be passed on to ratepayers, thereby increasing rates, Weekley said. If that cannot be achieved, Millstone Power Station will be shut down, he said.

“I’ve been misquoted in the media suggesting this is a threat,” he said. “This is not a threat, and we will not be shutting down. The state government will be shutting us down.”

The announcement came at a hearing by Dominion to discuss both what the nuclear company has learned from the Japanese disaster and SB 1176. The event attracted around 100 members of the public, some strongly in favor of nuclear power and some strongly against.

Dominion is locked into contracts with companies years in the future for the cost of its energy. State legislators in favor of the bill have argued that since these costs are already fixed, Dominion will not be able to pass the additional taxes on to ratepayers.

If this new tax is imposed, Dominion will do everything it can to renegotiate these contracts and pass the new charge on, Weekley said. If that is not possible, Millstone will not produce any energy at all because it just isn’t affordable, Weekley said.

All Millstone employees have been told of the potential shutdown, Weekley said. Half of the workforce could be laid off if that were to happen, J.W. “Bill” Sheehan, president of the State of Connecticut Nuclear Energy Advisory Council, said.

“I can’t make it any simpler,” Weekley said. “If Dominion cannot pass these rates on, the Millstone power facility can no longer operate.”

If Millstone Power Station produced no energy, it will not pay any of the tax, since the tax is only on the energy it produces. Also, the company would likely argue that its property assessment should be reduced significantly, greatly reducing its property taxes, Town Assessor Michael Bekech said.

The tax adds a 2 cents per kilowatt hour on nuclear energy, costing Dominion an additional $335 million per year. Millstone Power Station is the only nuclear power plant in Connecticut, so Dominion would be the only company paying the tax.

Governor Dannel Malloy has not commented either way on the bill, Weekley said. He has proposed his own $32 million on Millstone, Weekley said.

Booed Off Stage

The event provided an opportunity for people against nuclear power to voice their displeasure with Millstone Power Station and Dominion. The protestors were not well-received by the rest of the crowd.

During the question and answer period after Dominion’s presentation, Nancy Burton, president of the Connecticut Coalition Against Millstone, began a speech on the dangers of nuclear energy. She showed several posters of Japan’s destroyed nuclear power plants, and made allegations that Millstone was casting radiation into Mystic and causing cancer.

Before she could finish her speech, the public began to grow restless. Many stood up and yelled at Burton, demanding she ask one question and let everybody else talk.

Later in the question and answer period, Burton stood up again to speak. Again she made allegations that Dominion was cutting corners and misinforming the public, and that the media was backing the power company.

This time, before she could finish her speech, boos rained down. She tried to talk over the jeers, but the public just booed louder until she eventually returned to her seat.

What Dominion Learned From Japan

The first part of the presentation was spent discussing what Dominion learned from the Japan tragedy. The power company found the root cause of the problems with the Japanese power plants and learned from them, Millstone Site Vice President Skip Jordan said.

The problem in Japan was that power died, so the reactors could no longer be cooled, Jordan said.

Water needs to be pumped into reactors to cool boiling water generators like the ones in Japan, Jordan said. These pumps need electricity to run.

When the earthquake came, it knocked out power to the power plants and the water pumps. The pumps ran off of diesel generators, but those failed in the ensuing tsunami, Jordan said.

Then, the pumps began to run off of batteries, he said. But eventually those batteries died, and the reactors began to heat up and create problems, Jordan said.

Only Millstone 1, which is decommissioned, is a boiling water generator. The other two reactors are pressurized water generators.

Still, there is danger if power were to be lost at the plant, Jordan said. To compensate, generators, batteries and lines from several different power generators are installed, Jordan said.

Polar Bear April 12, 2011 at 01:38 PM
Nice to see that the reasonable people at the meeting wanted to get Burton stage and not be her captive audience. Gov Malloy still wants a tax, only 32 million, but still a tax. Wow I can't believe I just said "only 32 million". If Burton had her way the Professor from Gilligan's Island will be teaching us to make electricity from stirring coconuts to charge our radios. I don't understand why the state government see's every business as their own cash cow to raid when they want more money. Its not their money, its the company's money, which they earned by working and running a profitable business.
Elaine Gagnier April 12, 2011 at 01:38 PM
No ifs and or butts on this side either. Take your threats back to ole Virginny....Shut it down
John Sheehan April 12, 2011 at 02:07 PM
As noted in the presentation by Dominion last night, Millstone Station has a $1.3 Billion (yes, Billion) impact on the economy of SECT. That loss would have a significant impact on the general economic health of this region. The Station in caretaker status would not be as great an economic engine. The State would lose the electricity it produces, causing an increase in electric rates, and the dollars it spends in the State that supports the local economy. For those who believe Dominion should shut down the reactors for good, be careful what you wish for. It will not be pretty and the recession could become a depression in SECT.
Casey April 12, 2011 at 02:34 PM
While it is wonderful that Andrea Stillman and Nancy Ritter are there for us on this issue, as well they should be, I would remind everyone that at the core of this issue is that the State is broke and it is desperately trying to increase income in order to avoid having to make the tough decisions relating to state funded programs, reducing the number of employees and bringing the state employee benefit program under control. Connecticut is ranked 47th in the Business Tax Climate index meaning that there are only three states where it is less desirable to do business (NJ, NY and CA)and has the 3rd highest individual overall tax burden behind only NJ and NY. These conditions, which will bring CT (you and I) to its knees in the not too distant future, were created in Hartford and need to be resolved in Hartford. I hope our representatives are successful in their efforts to defeat this onerous bill that would unfairly tax Dominion but I am far more concerned that they have been ineffective in dealing with the much bigger issues described above. Very soon, the only recourse, for individuals and businesses alike, will be to develop an exit strategy. The words of the UTC CEO still echo in my ears when he said during a recent interview with the Wall Street Journal and was asked where he would move his companies – he said: “Anyplace Outside Connecticut”.
Water Ford April 12, 2011 at 02:37 PM
Smoke ‘n Mirrors. From time to time the government likes to try and deceive the population. This tactic works on children and the naive. Imposing taxes on businesses only increases the cost of goods sold, therefore increasing the cost to the consumer… Folks, we are the consumer! We will be the ones paying the new tax. Again, government doesn’t have an income problem, it has a spending problem.
Jenelle April 12, 2011 at 03:35 PM
Stupid, misleading headline. Nice going, Patch. (Yes, I see the smaller font headline. I am referring to the BIG headline.)
Paul Petrone (Editor) April 12, 2011 at 03:52 PM
Well, you certainly don't beat around the bush, and I respect that. The headline refers to a scenario that has been bounced around by many of the legislators, who argue the cost cannot be passed on and Dominion will eat the tax (which is what their intent). So yes it is situational, it refers the situation the state is hoping for. Obviously if Dominion shuts down, it would backfire, as no taxes would be collected on Millstone. Thank you for reading, Paul
Laughing Out Load April 12, 2011 at 07:25 PM
My oh my, perhaps the top will have to get rid of those company cars, and the big bonuses will also go away. I disagree with what the state is trying to do. BUT I also feel the need to call the bluff. I think Dominion is FOS. Talk all they want I don't see it happening. What they need to do is bring more people up from VA and show them how it's done. I also agree Dominion Management and supervision is not qualified to be doing what they are. I have witnessed people be harassed and basically pushed out the door for not playing by their rules. As for paying higher rates. Seriously! I don't need to fund the AIP or anything else thank you. This state is a money sucker and they need to find a different way to fix it other than taxing the business and people out of it, then who will pay for everything. And taxes could still be collected from Dominion there chief. They still have the land and spent fuel etc.. When Dominion purchased Millstone they also got the bank books that have the $$ for decommissioning the Units. Also don't believe anything Dominion shows you on a powerpoint. Quite a few of the workers are from RI , MA, NY, and the motherland VA.
Waterford Rez April 12, 2011 at 08:02 PM
When, when, when will people realize that business don't pay the taxes of a business....the consumer does!!!!!!!!!!!! Is it such a hard concept to grasp?? The business of business is BUSINESS!!! They are not social centers for the people, they are not welfare centers eiterh. They have one goal, profit. When it is no longer becomes profitable or a larger profit can be made somewhere else, the businesses close their doors and leave. This is economics 101 people. This state is brutal to do business in, and the chickens are soon coming home to roust. We (the people of this state) vote in the same politicians (or ones just like the old ones) every election and then sit back and are baffled why nothing changes or even gets worse. Go ahead, keep pulling the same lever in the booth and think things will get better......
CU Seaside April 12, 2011 at 08:47 PM
Dominion is good and reponsible neighbor. It provides clean energy and does not use up nonrenewable resources unlike coal, oil, and gas fired plants. Eastern Connecticut's economy would sink even lower without them. Unemployment would rise significantly and the housing market would fall even further. Nancy Burton made a fool of herself. She is disbarred lawyer with no credibility.
Waterford Rez April 12, 2011 at 11:41 PM
Well stated.
Peter April 13, 2011 at 01:22 PM
The politicians have squandered the Tobacco settlement money, Lottery money, and the Casino money. Whatever money they collect from this energy manufacturing tax (and all the other new taxes) will also be squandered. Like stated above we just keep electing the same people over and over but we expect a different outcome. Its insane.

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