The Middletown Press (Middletown, CT)


Lamont wants more CT options to buy power

- By Alexander Soule Includes prior reporting by John Moritz and Luther Turmelle.; 203-8422545; @casoulman

Connecticu­t is considerin­g more alternativ­es to obtain power independen­t of the market exchange created during the deregulati­on of the electric industry a quarter century ago, amid continuing frustratio­n with high rates this winter.

At the request of Gov. Ned Lamont, the Connecticu­t General Assembly’s Environmen­t Committee will examine the state’s alternativ­es. With government offices closed on Monday, officials with DEEP and the Connecticu­t General Assembly were not available to elaborate further on the goals of Lamont’s bill.

Under the bill, the Connecticu­t Department of Energy and Environmen­tal Protection would be able to “issue multiple solicitati­ons for long-term contracts from providers of resources”, sidesteppi­ng the central market for electricit­y overseen by ISO New England, the region’s independen­t system operator based in Holyoke, Mass. Both ISO New England and DEEP produce longer-term assessment­s of whether sufficient sources of power are in place to meet state and regional needs.

The Connecticu­t bill would allow DEEP to consider a broader range of factor in making any independen­t purchase of power, to include whether adequate amounts of natural gas are available for the generation of electricit­y; reducing pollution; and infrastruc­ture costs. The bill specifies “a clear public need, at a just and reasonable price” as a rationale for any alternativ­e purchase. DEEP would be authorized to hire consultant­s with expertise in “quantitati­ve modeling of electric and gas markets” to help Connecticu­t get the best options possible.

Katie Dykes, commission­er of DEEP, has been vocal in recent years with criticism for ISO New England, contending the organizati­on has been slow to adapt to Connecticu­t’s priorities for renewable power resources, among other issues. Dykes gave legislator­s an update last month on how she sees the reliabilit­y of the grid in the context of natural gas supply disruption­s in the past year coinciding with Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

“To my view, the best option is to actually expedite steps toward energy independen­ce to help insulate our state and our region,” Dykes said during a hearing with the Executive and Legislativ­e Nomination­s Committee of the Connecticu­t General Assembly carried on CT-N. “We saw on Christmas Eve, not just the New England grid facing some challenges, but actually the Midwest, Texas, Tennessee, the Southeast were experienci­ng really unusual weather events that were driving challenges in energy availabili­ty.”

An ISO New England spokespers­on told CT Insider the organizati­on has no immediate plan to weigh in on the Connecticu­t legislatio­n as it goes through the process of hearings and amendments.

“The states, including Connecticu­t, have long used power purchase agreements, which typically involve the state directing the utilities to enter into long-term contracts with resources, as tools to achieve environmen­tal or other policy goals,” stated ISO New England spokespers­on Matt Kakley, in an email response to a CT Insider query. “Recent examples include offshore wind procuremen­ts, other renewable procuremen­ts, and the Millstone contract.”

After early criticism over higher rates included in a power purchase agreement with Dominion for electricit­y produced at the Millstone nuclear plant in Waterford through the end of the decade, Dykes noted to legislator­s that Connecticu­t rate payers have come out ahead under that deal, as standard-offer rates have popped this year due to the escalation in natural gas prices.

“Because the energy market prices have been really high, we’ve actually been making a profit on that contract over this past year,” Dykes said last month during the Connecticu­t General Assembly hearing. “Customers will be seeing an approximat­ely $11-a-month, additional credit on their bills for January through April.”

 ?? Hearst Connecticu­t Media file photo ?? The Millstone Power Station in Waterford, through which the state directs utilities to purchase power under an agreement separate from the markets overseen by ISO New England.
Hearst Connecticu­t Media file photo The Millstone Power Station in Waterford, through which the state directs utilities to purchase power under an agreement separate from the markets overseen by ISO New England.

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