Even Einstein can’t solve Millstone math

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Sean D. Elliot

Dominion Energy spokesman Kevin Hennessy uses a famous quote from Albert Einstein to justify why ratepayers should give the Millstone power plant a big corporate payout. Einstein is credited with the observation that doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result is not a pragmatic approach to problem solving. Yet, Hennessy keeps saying things that aren’t true and apparently keeps hoping we’ll believe him.

Dominion falsely claims that giving them more money will lower Connecticut’s exorbitantly high electricity rates. But their self-serving argument is just plain wrong. The fact is that wholesale power prices in New England are at historic lows, which means that the portion of your electric bill that is related to the actual production of electric power, by generating stations such as Millstone, are at an all-time low.

The wholesale price of power is not what’s driving the state’s high electricity prices. So how can Dominion argue that prices will go down if we give them a subsidy?

In fact, there’s only one way that ratepayers could ever see lower prices by entering into a long-term contract with Millstone: Dominion would have to agree to sell power at below-market prices. They would have to be in a very generous mood indeed if they were willing to sell electricity at a lower-than-record-low price.

It’s not hard to discern what’s driving Dominion’s push for legislation. Lower wholesale prices are impacting their earnings. They are no longer happy having Millstone remain subject to the ups and downs of the regional competitive power market. What’s good for consumers isn’t necessarily good for their bottom line. So they want government to intervene.

Hennessy can keep pretending they’re not looking for a subsidy, but when a large corporation asks government to protect them from competition, we usually consider that a subsidy. But we don’t have to argue about definitions of words to know what the truth is.

However, I would suggest the following. Rather than quoting Einstein, it seems Hennessy is taking a page from a worn out old political playbook – say things often enough and people think they’re true, even when they’re not.

But Connecticut residents and policy makers are not going to fall for that charade. They know we need to Stop the Millstone Payout.

Matt Fossen is spokesman for the Stop the Millstone Payout coalition

 

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