Oil platform BOEM
Ocean Confidence is a semi-submersible deep-water drilling rig used in the Gulf of Mexico.

Washington – The Trump administration on Thursday proposed opening most of the nation’s offshore areas to oil and gas drilling, including areas in the North Atlantic off the New England coast that have been off limits to exploration for decades.

Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke proposed a five-year plan that would offer private companies 47 leases off the nation’s coastlines between 2019 and 2024. The plan proposes 19 sales off the coast of Alaska, seven in the Pacific, 12 in the Gulf of Mexico, and nine in the Atlantic, including two in the North Atlantic. It would be the largest offshore lease proposal ever made by the federal government.

Zinke said that 47 proposed leasing areas could increase federal revenue by $15 billion.

newingtontarget G0045871 DeFishEye

Greenskies Solar Installation at Target Store in Newington

MIDDLETOWN: Greenskies Renewable Energy LLC (“Greenskies”) and its affiliates, has been purchased by Clean Focus Yield Limited of Sunnyvale, CA with offices in New Jersey, and Massachusetts and an affiliate in China.

Greenskies says, “Clean Focus is an integrated group of renewable-energy companies with “global reach.” According to the companies, “with this acquisition Clean Focus becomes the owner and operator of the largest commercial and industrial portfolio in the United States.”

Greenskies, is a vertically-integrated solar company in the United States, and will continue to operate under its brand and management from its Middletown, Connecticut headquarters.

In 2016 the Connecticut Technology Council named Greenskies among the 40 fastest growing tech companies in Connecticut. Westbrook Republican Senator Art Linares Jr. an assistant Minority leader and Mike Silvestrini founded the company in 2008 in a Westbrook basement, it currently has approximately 70 full time employees.

 

State energy officials concluded in a preliminary report released Thursday that the Millstone nuclear power station in Waterford will be profitable through 2035, undercutting its owner’s assertion that Connecticut must change how its electricity is sold or face the early retirement of New England’s largest source of carbon-free power.

But the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection and the Public Utilities Regulatory Authority conceded in a dense, 32-page assessment of the state’s deregulated energy market that the nuclear industry generally is under stress because of its high fixed costs and a market in which prices are set by relatively cheap natural gas.

It made no predictions about the plant’s future, other than concluding its owner, Dominion Energy, was unlikely to close it before 2022, the end of its current contractural obligations to produce power. The soonest it could begin the complex retirement process is March 2018, a month after DEEP and PURA are to issue their final report.

Rob Klee, the commissioner of DEEP, said it had reached no conclusion about whether the profitability meets Dominion’s requirements for a sufficient return on investment. As an unregulated “merchant plant,” Millstone faces more risk and volatility than generation plants owned by regulated utilities, which get a predictable return based on cost of service.

“Owners of merchant generation bear all of the risks and rewards of operating in a competitive market, and they and their shareholders — not state regulators — make the determination of what is a sufficient return on their capital investment,” the agencies said in the report. “Merchant generators’ financial goals may exceed the regulated rate of return earned by cost-of-service generators, given merchant generators’ exposure to the risks of low energy prices, unplanned outages, and other costs that a regulated generator can recover from electric ratepayers. Ultimately, these financial goals are unknown to state regulators in a deregulated market.”

Katie Dykes, the chair of PURA, said the two agencies have reached no conclusions about Millstone’s economic viability.

“This report is laying out the dots,” she said. “It’s not necesarily connecting the dots.”

Kevin Hennessy, who oversees governmental affairs for Dominion in the region, said the company probably would have no detailed response until Friday to the report and other material released Thursday. But he disputed the conclusion Millstone was assured of long-term profitability.

“We are profitable now. It’s at a margin that is very low compared to what people think and what assumptions are out there,” Hennessy said.

The agencies will make no recommendation on whether DEEP and PURA should open a new competitive solicitation process that would benefit Millstone by allowing it to compete with more expensive sources of clean energy until the conclusion of a public-comment period Jan. 8.

Under a law passed earlier this year, DEEP and PURA could allow Millstone to sell up to three-quarters of its output in competition with other zero-carbon sources of electricity, a more favorable market because solar, wind and hydro power generally command higher prices.

The assessment was hampered by Dominion’s refusal to share detailed financials, the agencies said.

“Despite DEEP and PURA’s specific data requests, Dominion only very recently provided a limited, two-page, high-level document with forward-looking financial projections,” they said. “The document lacked the standard documentation supporting the projections concerning its actual financial condition.”

They also offered a caution: “As with any assessment based on market projections, determining viability cannot be conclusively determined. Even the most careful analysis is fraught with uncertainty, since revenues and/or costs in the future will not precisely follow modeled projections.”

The report is a primer on the nature of Connecticut’s bifurcated electric system.

The state’s two major utilities, Eversource and United Illuminating, no longer generate power; they buy electricity in a fast-changing commodity market and then deliver it over a transmission system that is still regulated, its rates set based on PURA’s finding of what the cost of service and reasonable rate of return are.

Electricity is bought and sold in three markets that offer a mix of short- and long-term prices: a “Day-Ahead Energy Market,” a so-called balancing market in which prices can change in minutes, and longer-term transactions between buyers and sellers.

“Electricity production must continuously and instantaneously match demand on the system, and real-time energy prices adjust as often as every five minutes as the levels of supply and demand change on the system,” the report says.

Natural-gas fired plants generate about half the region’s electricity and tend to set the market price. As the cost of natural gas has fallen, it has depressed the price that Millstone and other nuclear plants can command for their electricity.

“In New England, poor market conditions and reduced revenues resulting from low gas and electricity wholesale prices as well as increased operational costs were a major contributing factor in owners’ decisions to close the Vermont Yankee and  nuclear power stations.

Yankee closed in 2014. Pilgrim, which is in Plymouth, Mass., is slated to close in 2019. New England’s other nuclear stations, Millstone and Seabrook in New Hampshire, are larger and more cost effective.

The report suggests that if Millstone closed, the region could find sufficient sources of electricity, but at a cost to the environment and local economy.

Millstone employs about 1,100 workers, and their average salary is $167,000. The plant generates about $1.3 billion in economic activity in Connecticut and a similar amount in the rest of the region.

eversource bill new ctHARTFORD, BOSTON: Eversource Energy [NYSE: ES] released a statement saying it was putting the Environmental Defense Fund [EDF] “on notice that the company will pursue legal action if EDF doesn’t halt its false and defamatory statements regarding Eversource’s gas purchasing practices.”

The company said to EDF, “your false and misleading statements are immediately actionable and expose you and those acting in concert with you to liability for substantial damages,” the Cease and Desist letter states. “If you do not cease and desist from all further publication of such statements, Eversource will take all appropriate action; indeed, we have retained outside counsel to protect our rights.”

The letter is response to a "report" by the EDF that Eversource and Avantgrid manipulated the supply of Natural Gas causing prices to be higher for the gas to consumers and power producers.

A spokesperson for EDF Jon Coifman said, ““We stand by the analysis and reject this obvious attempt to intimidate and chill legitimate public inquiry."

NEC Final Plan 771x780By:   ctmirror.com

Washington – An ambitious  — and to some in Connecticut controversial — plan to overhaul the railroad in the Northeast Corridor has come to a full stop, a victim of lack of funding. There also has been pushback to the plan from Fairfield County residents who fear the impact of laying down new high-speed-ready tracks and other development near their neighborhoods.

The Federal Railroad Administration in July issued its final Northeast Corridor (NEC) Future plan that detailed a long-term vision to improve and grow passenger rail service in the corridor at a cost between $121 billion and $153 billion.

The plan, called “Tier 1,” included adding 200 miles of expanded track capacity between Washington, D.C., and Boston, and making sure most of those new tracks can carry trains traveling at up to 220 miles per hour.

But Federal Railroad Administration spokesman Marc Willis said none of the eight states that would be impacted by the plan have submitted new project proposals so that NEC Future can move into the “Tier 2,” or project-level, phase of the plan.

“Right now, there is nothing going on,” Willis said.

 ct essexHARTFORD: The Connecticut Bond Commission approved the Connecticut Port Authority’s request to fund 18 projects under the Small Harbor Improvement Projects Program (SHIPP). The projects cover a range of improvements including: marina repair, dredging, boat ramp facilities improvement, harbor management plans and feasibility studies. Details of each project are in the attached document.

"These projects will create jobs and opportunity for working families across Connecticut", said Scott Bates, Chairman of the CPA. "By partnering with local officials to identify and fund projects, we have developed a new roadmap for investing in Connecticut's small harbor infrastructure and the long term growth of our maritime economy."

“We are very pleased to see these projects come to life under SHIPP,” said Evan Matthews, Executive Director of the Connecticut Port Authority. “Part of our core mission is to invest in the waterfront infrastructure that supports our local communities. Using our CPA resources, along with local funding where possible, we’re able to boost the outcome for everyone.”

Malloy brownfields 336x263

Gov. Dannel P. Malloy with state and local officials at a Hartford brownfield Monday.

Marl Pazniokas / CTMirror.org

Connecticut will spend $13.6 million to assess or redevelop brownfield sites in 14 municipalities, marking Connecticut officials’ latest effort to clean up polluted properties and spur economic development, Gov. Dannel P. Malloy announced Monday.

Officials say the newest round of funding will pay to remediate and revitalize 89 acres of blighted properties. Malloy said the investment will clean up neighborhoods, strengthen communities, and draw more economic activity to those locations.

Officials say the state has invested more than $220 million in brownfield redevelopment since 2012.

The governor made the announcement on Homestead Avenue in Hartford, beside two of the 16 properties in the project. Eight are slated for remediation now and eight more are being assessed for future work.

“Quite frankly it’s nearly impossible to attract corporate development to a site that has scars that this one does, and that’s why it’s so very important to have studied the problem, resolved how we could fix the problem and then undertake the actual cleanup,” Malloy said.

Tim Sullivan, the deputy commissioner of the Department of Economic and Community Development, said each project is different but the cleanup process usually takes several months.

Sullivan said officials are really interested in bringing private investment to the properties and noted many brownfields are clustered near transit, but it takes time and money to clean up toxic chemicals that have contaminated them.

Hartford Mayor Luke Bronin echoed the desire to attract developers.

“We talked to many developers, many investors who are excited about these sites because they see the power in this location,” Bronin said. “I’m excited about this because it lays the foundation that we will literally be able to build on in the future.”

The projects being remediated are:

  • Bridgeport, 400 Iranistan Avenue: $1.5 million grant to the Bridgeport Housing Authority to redevelop the 15.9-acre Marina Village public housing complex into a new state-of-the-art affordable housing community.  The existing structures will be demolished and replaced with multi-family residential units and community space.
  • Danbury, 89 Rose Hill Road: $1.3 million grant to demolish and remediate the former 3.7-acre Mallory Hat Factory. A residential facility for women and children in transition is proposed for this site.
  • East Hartford, 590 Burnside Avenue: $200,000 grant to abate hazardous building materials in a former public housing site on a 1.4-acre parcel.
  • Hartford, 367, 393 & 424 Homestead Avenue: $1.9 million grant to demolish and remediate three properties, including a former metal foundry manufacturing facility, preparing them for redevelopment.
  • Meriden, 1 King Place: $2 million grant for abatement and demolition of a portion of a former hospital structure and parking garage on 5.6 acres to prepare it for private mixed-use redevelopment.  The City of Meriden also has been awarded a $2 million loan to complete the required remediation of the site before it is conveyed to the city’s development partner.
  • New Britain, 24 Dwight Court: $1.5 million grant to remediate a one-acre former coal and oil facility that abuts the CTfastrak station, preparing it for redevelopment.
  • Plymouth, 142 Main Street – Route 6: $750,000 grant to remediate a 0.5-acre gas station and auto repair facility, preparing it for redevelopment.
  • Waterbury, 2100 South Main Street: $1 million grant to remediate the 3.4-acre former RISDON manufacturing facility that was the site of a recent major fire. The remediation will address a major public health hazard and prepare the site for redevelopment.

The projects being assessed for future revitalization are:

  • Ansonia: $200,000 grant for investigation of a 2.7-acre parcel located at 65 Main Street.
  • Derby: $200,000 grant for investigation of 19 acres on Main Street related to the city’s downtown redevelopment plans.
  • New Britain: $200,000 grant for investigation of two sites that include 1411 East Street, a 1 acre parcel adjacent to CCSU and CTfastrak, and 495 Myrtle Street, a 4.4-acre parcel.
  • Norwich: $200,000 grant for investigation of the last undeveloped portion of the former Ponemah Mill site, a 5.5-acre site located at 555-559 Norwich Avenue.
  • Manchester: $100,000 grant for investigation and monitoring of three parcels on 1.5 acres located at 295, 299, and 303 Broad Street.
  • Middletown: $200,000 grant for investigation of a 0.3-acre parcel located at 248 William Street.
  • Plainville: $200,000 grant for investigation of two contiguous parcels located at 1 West Main Street (14.59 acres) and 63 West Main Street (0.2 acre).
  • Waterbury: $200,000 grant for investigation of the former Bristol Babcock facility, a 6.6-acre parcel located at 40 Bristol Street.

Millstone over water 771x504By: Mark Pazniokas | ctmirror.com

HARTFORD: Gov. Dannel P. Malloy signed a bill Tuesday that allows the state to enhance the profitability of Dominion Energy’s Millstone nuclear power plant in Waterford, while pointedly asserting that Dominion has not convinced his administration any such help is warranted.

The new law permits, but does not require, state energy officials to change the rules for how Dominion Energy sells electricity from Millstone, whose profits fell as energy prices were depressed by competition from electricity generated by relatively cheap and plentiful natural gas.

Malloy said in a statement announcing the bill-signing that the preliminary results of an assessment of Millstone’s economic viability, which he says was hampered by Dominion’s refusal to full share its financials, is that the plant “is expected to be highly profitable through 2035.”

“As such, there is unlikely to be a basis upon which to conclude at this time that Dominion requires electric ratepayers to provide financial support outside the regional market in order for Millstone to continue operating profitably,” Malloy said, quoting a letter from the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection and the Public Utilities Regulatory Authority.

Malloy was asked a press conference if the letter was a message to Dominion to reconsider and share the financial data sought by DEEP and PURA.

“Yeah, I think that’s exactly the message,” Malloy said.

Dominion issued a statement praising the bill signing and ignoring the assertion no relief was necessary. The statement suggests that Dominion believes it still can make the case for new energy procurement rules for Millstone.

“On behalf of the 1,500 women and men who work at Millstone, I want to thank Gov. Malloy for signing this important legislation,” said Thomas F. Farrell, the company’s president and chief executive. “We are committed to working with his administration and with state energy regulators as the process laid out in the bill and the governor’s executive order continues.”

Millstone could sell up to three-quarters of its output in competition with other zero-carbon sources of electricity under the bill, a more favorable market because solar, wind and hydro power generally command higher prices.

The plant, whose electricity is sold throughout New England, generates the equivalent of 50 percent of Connecticut’s electric needs and nearly all of it is zero-carbon power, making it vital to the state’s meeting its goals for reducing greenhouse gases.

“I thank Gov. Malloy for recognizing the importance of Millstone to not only the southeast Connecticut region, but also to our entire state,” said Sen. Paul Formica, R-East Lyme, whose district includes Waterford. “This legislation is the result of bipartisan efforts including all stakeholders to protect a vital baseload energy source, build a bridge to a renewable future, and preserve thousands of jobs.”

Undisputed is that the nuclear industry is under distress, prompting the premature retirement of nuclear plants across the U.S., a loss of what environmentalists and others view as a bridge to an era when renewable energy can produce a larger share of electricity.

But industry analysts have concluded from publicly available documents that Millstone remains profitable. Promising confidentiality, the state has requested financial documents that Dominion says are proprietary.

The company has refused, saying they might be subject to the Freedom of Information Act. As a compromise, Dominion has proposed a briefing on the material, without providing copies.

AARP, one of the grass-roots groups that fought passage of the bill, expressed disappointment Malloy signed the measure, but was encouraged by his skepticism of Millstone’s need for financial relief.

“We do agree with the governor, DEEP and PURA that Millstone is expected to be highly profitable through 2035 based on publicly available data,” AARP said. “Therefore these processes must conclude that Dominion does not require electric ratepayers to provide financial support that could cost in excess of $300 million annually. AARP will work to ensure, absent disclosure by Millstone, that Connecticut ratepayers not be subjected to any special deal for the plant.”