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Dominion: Millstone nuclear plant essential for Conn. power needs, carbon compliance

's topexecutive said the company's 2,150-MW Millstone nuclear plant "provides half ofConnecticut's power" when both units are online and the state has "verylittle prospect of complyingwith carbon rules if Millstone were to shut down at some point."

DominionChairman, President and CEO Thomas Farrell II addressed Millstone's future May 4on the company's first-quarter 2016 earningscall in response to an analyst's question around that will support the plant'sability to bid for long-term contracts.

Connecticut'sSenate on April 29 unanimously passed S.B. 344 to allow Dominion's Millstoneplant near New London, Conn., to bid for long-term, power purchase agreementsfor up to 10 years as a means of meeting the state's energy and environmentalgoals and ensuring reliability.

However,it is unclear if the legislation will receive full General Assembly approvalthis year, with the regular session adjourning the day of Dominion's call.

Farrellsaid Dominion is following the legislation closely.

"ButI think it's part of an overall dialogue that will continue over the next fewmonths in New England, generally, about how to protect these assets, of which Iguess there are only two left that are still going to be running — and Millstone,which is about twice the size of Seabrook," Farrell said.

Hesaid Millstone cannot bid into RFPs as they are currently structured.

"AsI understand the Connecticut legislation, it would be structured so thatMillstone would be allowed to bid as part of the non-carbon or renewable energycomponents of these RFPs," Farrell said. "It's quite creative and Ithink appropriate. It is carbon-free and it's baseload and they can't maketheir requirements without it."

Solar, transmission

InVirginia, Dominion will file an application May 4 with the State CorporationCommission for a certificate of public convenience and necessity for its 20-MWRemington Solarproject in FauquierCounty, Farrell said. The plant will be built adjacent to Dominion VirginiaPower's gas-fired Remingtonpower plant and is expected online in late 2017.

Thecommonwealth of Virginia will buy the energy produced by the plant fromDominion and Microsoft Corp.will purchase the renewable energy credits.

Stateregulators in October 2015 rejecteda previous plan to build a 20-MW solar project at the site, expressing concernsabout costs proposed to be paid by consumers and ordering Dominion VirginiaPower to seek "third-party market alternatives" before it couldsupport the plan.

Inresponse to an analyst's question about the potential for more renewable energyinvestments throughout its fleet, in light of the for solar and windtax credits, Farrell said the company is looking primarily in Virginia atregulated and "quasi-regulated opportunities that have risen."

"We'remuch more interested in solar than we are wind," Farrell said. "Windis not a good asset, in the territories where we do business, for producingpower reliably. Solar is better."

Outsideof solar investments and largegas generation projects, Dominion plans to put into service about$650 million of new transmission assets in 2016.

Thecompany completed the first phase of its Loudoun-Pleasant View 500-kVtransmission line rebuild project in the first quarter and filed an applicationwith the SCC in December 2015 for Phase 1 of its , whichcovers 400 miles of distribution lines that would be converted by August for$140 million.

Inthe summer of 2015, Virginia regulators denied Dominion Virginia Power's initial request torecover the costs of replacing thousands of overhead distribution lines withnew underground lines. The company has since revised its planned investment.

DominionVirginia Power is known legally as VirginiaElectric and Power Co.