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Monday, February 15, 2010

Utilities' proposed strategy includes look at nuclear power

[Having lived in Connecticut for seven years, I found this an interesting article. Though I believe it is unlikely any new reactors will be built in the Northeast anytime soon.]


Patricia Daddona
Feb 15, 2010 (The Day - McClatchy-Tribune Information Services via COMTEX) --

Connecticut should focus on studying the pros and cons of nuclear power, developing a policy for renewable resources and targeting certain energy efficiency programs for funding, according to a report funded by the state's two major utilities.

The Connecticut Light & Power Co. and United Illuminating outline these recommendations as vital to the state's future energy strategy in a 341-page Integrated Resource Plan first released in January. The report was prepared by the Brattle Group, an economic consultant based in Cambridge, Mass.

This past Thursday, the Connecticut Energy Advisory Board held a public hearing on the plan in New Britain. That session will be followed by public input in a docket to come before the state Department of Public Utility Control over the next few months, said Jeffrey Gaudiosi, the advisory board's vice chairman. The DPUC regulates the two utilities.

Both utilities support the renewable policy and energy efficiency recommendations, but United Illuminating recommends completing a detailed study of the possible costs and benefits of nuclear power, based on the Brattle Group's analysis of the potential advantages of a "nuclear strategy."

"I very strongly suggest that the (advisory board) carry out that recommendation," said Stephen Goldschmidt of Guilford. "We need to provide facts that can address what are often irrational fears and biases about nuclear generation and be sure that Connecticut policymakers are not ignoring the overwhelming benefits of nuclear energy. It has to be studied now."

Goldschmidt, an independent electric power consultant, spoke as a private citizen, but acknowledged that he has consulted for United Illuminating on this and previous resource plans.

The Millstone nuclear complex in Waterford "has room for several more plants," Goldschmidt said, but emphasized that he was recommending a study first, not building a reactor.

The resource plan analyzes the pros and cons of a hypothetical new reactor at Millstone, where two reactors generate about 2,100 megawatts of electricity, enough to power more than 500,000 homes.

The plan also finds nuclear power could help reduce greenhouse gases, make the state less reliant on natural gas, and bring down the cost of electricity, though new plants are expensive and controversial to build, and produce radioactive waste for which there is no permanent national repository.

Susan Olsen, a board member of People's Action for Clean Energy, at first questioned how "saddling future generations" with radioactive waste can be justified, but later said she wouldn't oppose a study "as long as we study the whole cost."

Several environmental groups and members of the public spoke out against the utilities' preference for "targeting" certain types of energy-efficiency programs for funding, saying state law and common sense call for funding all available options to benefit the most people.


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