October 11, 2017
The Honorable Dannel Malloy, Governor, State of Connecticut
Office of the Governor
210 Capitol Ave
Hartford, CT 06106
The Hon. Joe Aresimowicz, Speaker of the House
The Hon. Martin Looney, Senate Democrat President Pro Tempore
The Hon. Len Fasano, Senate Republican Leader Pro Tempore
The Hon. Bob Duff, Senate Majority Leader
The Hon. Matt Ritter, House Majority Leader
The Hon. Themis Klarides, House Minority Leader
Legislative Office Building
300 Capitol Avenue
Hartford, CT 06106
Dear Governor Malloy, Speaker Aresimowicz, Sen. Looney, Sen. Fasano, Sen. Duff, Rep. Ritter and Rep. Klarides:
I commend you all for your commitment to climate protection. By committing to an 80 percent reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by 2050, Connecticut has sent a strong signal to the rest of New England and the United States.
Unfortunately, Connecticut remains at risk of losing its lone nuclear plant, Millstone, which supplies over half of the state’s electricity, and 96 percent of its zero-carbon power. In 2016, Millstone provided 46 times more electricity than Connecticut solar and wind combined.
If Connecticut loses Millstone it will rely even more heavily on natural gas. The share of the state’s energy mix coming from natural gas could increase from 49 percent to 89 percent. This would increase New England’s emissions coming from electricity by 27 percent, according to the draft Comprehensive Energy Strategy (CES). Millstone’s closure would thus increase emissions equal to adding nearly 1.5 million cars to the road.
The Clean Energy Standard (CES) draft acknowledges that the 2.5 percent increase in New England’s yearly CO2 emissions after the closure of Vermont’s Yankee Nuclear Power Plant at the end of 2014. That closure exemplified what we already knew: when nuclear plants close, fossil fuels are the predominant replacement.
The CES draft also concludes that Millstone’s closure "Would drive up capacity and energy prices, resulting in higher electricity rates in Connecticut,” which already has the second highest electric retail rate in the country at about 20 cents per kilowatt hour.
If nuclear received a fraction of the subsidies or other preferential treatments that are given to renewables, Millstone would not be in danger of closing. On a unit of energy basis, renewables received 114 times what was given to nuclear, according to a report by the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office earlier this year. The same report shows no subsidies for nuclear between 1985 and 2000, and comparatively small subsidies between 2000 and 2005.
The way to solve the climate problem is not clean energy subsidies, which should all be eliminated. The economically efficient solution is a steadily rising across-the-board (oil, gas, coal) carbon fee collected from fossil fuel companies. In that case nuclear power and all other clean energies can compete on a level playing field. However, until that approach is adopted (and it is gaining growing support) nuclear power needs to be treated fairly by providing the support needed to keep it operating and available as a viable clean energy option.
Last year, New York and Illinois took action to protect their nuclear plants for environmental and climate change reasons. I encourage Connecticut to do the same by compensating nuclear for the clean and affordable energy it provides around the clock.
The CES draft lays out Connecticut’s ambitious energy goals. I hope you will follow through on them with strong action to protect air quality and the climate.