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.