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Rosy Outlook for Millstone Nuclear Into the 2030s, Report Says

Dominion Energy's Millstone two-unit nuclear power plant in Connecticut is likely to operate profitably from the early 2020s to the mid-2030s, even under challenging market and operating cost assumptions.

The assessment comes in a report prepared for the state's Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (DEEP) and its Public Utilities Regulatory Authority (PURA). The agencies hired Boston-based Levitan & Associates to evaluate the plant's financial prospects and estimate the effects on electricity ratepayers and the state’s economy if it were to retire.

The report says that under expected market conditions, the present value of Millstone's after-tax cash flows from mid-2021 through mid-2035 is about $2.4 billion. Even under a scenario that includes lower- than-expected natural gas prices and higher-than-expected operating costs, the plant’s present value falls to $1.3 billion, but remains “deep-in-the-black." 

Dominion Energy said that DEEP and PURA's preliminary report was "crystal clear that Millstone is essential for Connecticut to meet its energy, environmental and economic goals." The company said the study set out the impacts the state would face without the plant, including "chronic" reliability issues, failing to meet carbon reduction goals, the loss of jobs and economic benefits, and higher costs for customers.

Dominion criticized the consultant report for using assumptions based on comparisons with nuclear plants unlike Millstone in terms of design, operating expenses, and local costs. The report "misse[d] the mark" on Millstone’s costs and revenues, but DEEP and PURA acknowledged that the error stemmed from time constraints, the company said.

Millstone is the only operating nuclear power plant in Connecticut. Its two pressurized water reactors (PWRs) have a combined capacity of 2,088 MWe, and generate about 45% of the state's electricity.

In November, the state’s governor signed Senate Bill 1501 - An Act Concerning Zero Carbon Procurement - which would allow Millstone to enter into a competitive procurement process with other zero-carbon energy sources.

Millstone Unit 2 has a generating capacity of 882 MW and is a Combustion Engineering-supplied PWR. Unit 3 has a generating capacity of 1,155 MW and uses a Westinghouse Electric PWR.

Millstone 1 was a 660 MW General Electric boiling water reactor. It shut down in November 1995 and was permanently closed in July 1998.

Caption: The two-unit Millstone Generating Station. Credit: Energy.gov

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