Rolf Maurer, Co-Chair, Fairfield County Chapter

203-327-6464, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

A recent audit of Dominion Energy by the Connecticut Department of Energy & Environmental Protection (DEEP) uncovered the company’s profiting from public subsidies to Waterford’s Millstone nuclear power plant. These subsidies included a $4.88 billion “bailout” to sustain the reactors through 2030. The audit overlooked, however, a major issue: how a shift to renewables can be paired with the resilience and savings already afforded through the municipal utility districts which, for forty years, have served six communities of the Connecticut Municipal Electric Energy Cooperative (CMEEC).

In contrast to commercial suppliers, like Eversource (which has used its earnings to acquire Aquarion and other area utilities, while increasing its rates), CMEEC towns like Groton and Norwich are able to maintain and distribute their own electrical supply for as little as 9 cents per kilowatt-hour. This ability, in a state second only to Hawaii in the high cost of electricity, demonstrates the value of building upon a pre-existing, cost-effective delivery model.

Furthermore, public health and safety issues are absent from the discussion. For example, Millstone recently scheduled a release of radioactive iodine into our air. This came on the heels of a report in the Journal of Environmental Protection documenting a leap in thyroid cancer cases among residents of the three counties south of New York’s Indian Point nuclear power plant. Thyroid cancer is the fastest-rising cancer in the U.S.

A tepid response among local grassroots groups favors shifting toward renewables between now and the time Millstone licenses expire (18 years for Unit 2; 28 for Unit 3). This is rooted in some erroneous assumptions: that renewables remain inadequate and require more development, and that nuclear power produces few greenhouse gases. Thus, they accept as unavoidable the proposed twenty years’ worth of further harm before Millstone’s closure.

Solar contributed a third of the 56 percent new US generating capacity for the first half of 2014, with wind accounting for the most renewable generating capacity in the national grid in 2017. Deepwater Wind and other offshore wind/solar projects from Maine to New Jersey can be online in just three years.

Connecticut has only a few years to become part of this movement, which offers new job creation for communities with naval construction ties. Unfortunately, it has been dragging its feet toward such a practical transition, while Millstone continues to pose a threat through the aforementioned radioactive releases, the accumulation of lethal spent fuel rods, and the ever-present threat of meltdown (a Chernobyl-scale event, alone, is a 50/50 possibility within the next 25 to 30 years--worse in case of a grid-destroying solar flare). Its touted low impact on global warming ignores the considerable greenhouse gas output from the total production life of a typical plant.

The Green Party of Connecticut encourages ratepayers to urge their state legislators to take into consideration ALL implications of the DEEP findings, including those favoring sustainability, decentralization and community-based economics.