Charlie Higley, (608) 251-3322 x. 14, cellphone: (608)
MADISON – The Citizens Utility Board strongly condemns the decision made
today by the Public Service Commission of Wisconsin (PSC) to approve the
sale of the Kewaunee Nuclear Power Plant to an unregulated subsidiary of an
out-of-state utility holding company.
“The sale of this power plant means that the Wisconsin public has lost
control of a nuclear power plant located in Wisconsin. The PSC’s decision
threatens the health, safety, and pocketbooks of Wisconsin ratepayers,” said
Charlie Higley, CUB executive director.
Wisconsin Public Service Corporation (WPS) and Wisconsin Power & Light
Company (WPL), the owners of Kewaunee, agreed to sell the nuclear power
plant in December 2003 to a subsidiary of Dominion Resources, Inc., a
utility holding company headquartered in Virginia.
The PSC’s decision makes it more likely that a new nuclear plant will be
built in Wisconsin. Dominion is currently seeking a permit from the federal
government to site a new nuclear plant in Virginia. Further, the site at
Kewaunee is designed to accommodate at least one additional nuclear reactor.
Today’s decision by the PSC reverses it’s decision in November to reject the
sale, when it concluded that the sale would not be in the public interest.
In today’s decision, the PSC accepted “conditions” that would bind Dominion
and any other future owner regarding the dismantling of the plant, the
treatment of ratepayers funds to be used to dismantle the plant, and the
storage of nuclear waste, among others.
CUB contended that the sale would threaten the interests of Wisconsin
residents and businesses by allowing an unregulated company to own and
operate a nuclear power plant. CUB argued that, not only will electricity
rates increase, but that the PSC will no longer have any control over the
reliable, safe, and affordable operation of the plant.
In addition, CUB pointed out that the “conditions” offered by the utilities
and Dominion to sweeten the deal will not be enforceable, which means that
in the end, Dominion can walk away from its promises without fear of
retribution by the PSC.
The PSC’s decision will be of great benefit to the shareholders of WPS and
WPL, who have forced ratepayers to pay hundreds of millions of dollars for
recent major repairs to the plant, only to sell it off to Dominion.
CUB expects that Dominion will become a major player in Wisconsin power
politics, and will likely make substantial contributions to political
campaigns in order to further its interests in nuclear power and utility
deregulation. Dominion already has a lobby in Wisconsin, and Dominion
political action committees and individuals associated with Dominion have
contributed more than $716,000 to federal campaigns in 2003 and 2004.
This is the first time that a power plant regulated by the PSC has been sold
to an unregulated, out-of-state company. This decision continues a wave of
misguided utility deregulation that has caused several states to lose
oversight of their electric power industries. In particular, California
utilities sold their power plants to unregulated companies, which
subsequently stole more than $50 billion from the pockets of California
residents and businesses during 2000 and 2001.
“The PSC has plunged Wisconsin back into the darkness of utility
deregulation,” continued Higley.
The Citizens Utility Board of Wisconsin is a member-supported nonprofit
organization that advocates for reliable and affordable utility service and
that represents the interests of residential, farm, and small business
customers of electric, natural gas, and telecommunication utilities before
regulatory agencies, the legislature, and the courts.