Lawsuit to Return the Clean Energy and Efficiency Funds

by Paula Panzarella, Fight the Hike

On Thursday, Sept. 13, I attended the hearing at the Federal Courthouse in New Haven regarding the legislature’s seizure last session of $155 million that was collected from United Illuminating and Eversource customers. The intention of the funds was to (as noted on the back of our electric bills) “promote energy conservation and efficiency” and to pay for programs that “promote the use of renewable (or environmentally friendly) fuel sources, such as solar power, wind, fuel cells, methane gas from landfills, biofuels, trash-to-energy, and water.”

The legislators voted to use these funds instead to put money into the State’s General Fund.

The Clean Energy funds must be returned. People depend on these funds for their jobs in the renewable energy sector. Consumers rely on the efficiency programs to save energy and money. These programs have helped people get low-interest financing for solar installations. Efficiency and clean energy save the state money, and people’s health is at stake because fossil fuels are increasing asthma rates and respiratory illnesses.

As of this printing, Judge Janet Hall has not yet made a decision on the legality of the legislators’ appropriation of the funds that were intended for clean energy and efficiency.

PACE to Host Forum on 100% Renewable Energy Nov. 8

by Mark Scully, President, PACE

On Nov. 8, People’s Action for Clean Energy (PACE) will host a forum on transitioning to 100% renewable energy with the foremost scientific expert in the country on the topic as well as a panel of local experts. Stanford University professor Mark Z. Jacobson has written extensively about transitioning society to 100% renewable energy from wind, water and solar. PACE will honor Prof. Jacobson with the Judi Friedman Lifetime Achievement Award for his ground-breaking research that shows the way to a clean energy future.

Following Mark Jacobson’s keynote address, the focus will turn to Connecticut with a panel of local experts including:

  • Claire Coleman of CT Fund for the Environment;
  • Katie Dykes, Chair of the Public Utilities Regulatory Authority (PURA);
  • John Humphries, Founder of CT Roundtable for Climate and Jobs; and
  • Mary Sotos, Deputy Commissioner of the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (DEEP)

The meeting will take place on Thursday, Nov. 8 from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. at 224 EcoSpace, 224 Farmington Ave. in Hartford. Reserve your ticket today online at www.pace-cleanenergy.org. Tickets: $25, students $10. Each ticket incudes a catered lunch and parking.

PACE is a public health and environmental organization formed in 1973 by a group of concerned Connecticut citizens to promote the development of alternative, renewable sources of energy, encourage the efficient use of energy, develop a spirit of conservation among Connecticut residents and challenge Connecticut’s commitment to nuclear power and nuclear weapons. Through its 100PercentCT project, PACE works with towns across the state to develop plans to transition to 100% renewable energy. For further information on PACE, go to www.pace-cleanenergy.org.

Judi Friedman led PACE for forty-three years and was a passionate and tireless advocate for clean energy. This award is given in her memory.

Download the event flyer here.

Grammar School Students Who Already Challenge and Change The World

by Frank Panzarella, community activist

The Green Wolves, fourth-grade students at Elm City College Preparatory Elementary School, came up with that name for their own wonderful and imaginative adventure in becoming young activists.

Their teacher, Kurt Zimmermann of their Expeditions class, saw the PAR newsletter on-line and invited us to do a training for young people on things to think about when becoming an activist.

While some were still shy, others were bursting with ideas and questions. They surprised us right off by quoting suggestions from our own notes before we even began.

These kids were very interested in environmental issues and showed us their current great campaign. They raised money to replace all the teachers’ disposable coffee cups with lovely ceramic mugs that had the teachers’ names printed on them, so the teachers would reduce their paper waste.

We were thrilled to meet this group of engaging and endearing students and thank Mr. Zimmermann for the opportunity. We thought PAR readers would be interested in the notes we left the students with.

An Activist Guide List – Questions to Ask Yourself

  • “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed it’s the only thing that ever has.” Margaret Mead
  • “Doing something is better than doing nothing.”
  • “My way is not the only way.”

Passion

  • What are the issues you feel strongly about? What would you like to accomplish or change? What do you need to study and understand?
  • Are there other people you know concerned about these issues? Who can you talk with?

Organize

  • How can you educate people about why your issue is important?
  • What are your short term and long term goals? What would you like to see happen in relation to your cause?
  • Who is it you would like to reach on your cause?
  • Are there people or groups who might be allies in reaching your goals?

Action Plans

  • What kinds of actions are appropriate for your cause?

Educational events

  • Write letters, articles, and petitions.
  • Use social media.

Rallies and demonstrations

  • Picket lines
  • Speak at hearings or local government meetings.

Create a plan to advance your cause and build support

  • Call a meeting to plan your actions if necessary.
  • Figure out a group process.
  • Be aware of your members and their ideas.
  • Promote democracy in action – listen to all and learn to resolve differences.
  • Respect the rights of others to have different views.
  • Struggle for a programmatic unity on issues — in other words, something everyone in your group can agree on to take some action.
  • Have a summation meeting. Meet again after your action to figure out what worked and what didn’t. What do you think could have been better? Decide if you will do something next, and pick a date for another meeting to figure out what it will be.
  • Have fun doing good things for the benefit of everyone.

Connecticut Sued for Using Clean Energy Funds to Fill Budget Gap

by Paula Panzarella, Fight the Hike

The state legislature’s attempt to raid $155 million from the clean energy and efficiency funds has met with strong resistance.

On May 15, with CT Fund for the Environment as the lead plaintiff, a lawsuit was filed in federal court in Hartford. Fight the Hike is one of twelve groups suing to get the funds restored for clean energy, conservation, and efficiency programs. These programs have helped Connecticut’s economy, improved health by lowering pollution from fossil fuels and resulted in lower costs for taxpayers. We demand their funding be fully restored!

These funds were for the energy programs that we have paid for through the surcharge fee on our United Illuminating and Eversource electric bills. The money was collected specifically to help consumers improve energy efficiency, take part in energy conservation programs, low-interest loans to help with solar panels, modernize furnaces, water heaters, etc.

Besides these programs helping consumers, they helped build up Connecticut’s economy. There are more than 34,000 people working in the energy-efficiency industry in Connecticut. It will be a staggering blow to these businesses and their employees if people cannot continue to have the assistance of these clean-energy programs.

The “Combined Public Benefits Charge” portion of our electric bill is how the Energy Efficiency Fund, CT Green Bank, and Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative are funded. To bolster the General Fund, the state is planning on seizing $155 million that was collected and earmarked for clean energy and efficiency programs.

By crippling these programs, it’s estimated that more than 6,600 jobs will be lost in the next two years, $21 million in state tax revenue will be lost, tens of thousands of people will not be able to receive energy assessments, weatherization upgrades, energy efficiency programs, and financial assistance for low-income ratepayers. The case will be heard before the end of June for a ruling to be made to stop the planned seizure of funds on July 1.

In other news, the legislature failed to pass an important large-scale community solar bill that would have allowed for 300 megawatts of new solar power. They passed a bill that would sunset net metering, another blow to the growing clean energy industry. Net metering allows homeowners to be credited for solar energy produced by their home that exceeds their usage (like rollover minutes on a cell phone).

Lawsuit against State of CT to Restore Clean Energy Funds

by Paula Panzarella, Fight the Hike

Disgracefully, the legislature came up with a state budget that cut the funding for social service agencies and many programs that helped people. This betrayal includes their agreement to give to the General Fund approximately $160 million that consumers already paid into for programs that assist people with energy efficiency, energy conservation and with utilizing renewable energy, which were through the CT Green Bank and the CT Energy Efficiency Fund.

These funds were for the energy programs that we have paid for through the surcharge fee on our United Illuminating and Eversource electric bills. The money was collected specifically to help consumers improve energy efficiency, take part in energy conservation programs, low-interest loans to help with solar panels, modernize furnaces, water heaters, etc.

Besides these programs helping consumers, they have helped build up Connecticut’s economy. There are over 34,000 people working in the energy-efficiency industry in Connecticut. It will be a staggering blow to these businesses and their employees if people cannot continue to have the assistance of these clean-energy programs. The funding for these programs has already been collected to keep these programs going. And the legislators decided to put the money into the General Fund.

Fight the Hike has joined a lawsuit against the state of Connecticut to restore these funds. We hope businesses and other organizations will consider signing on to the lawsuit. Please contact Michael Trahan of SolarConnecticut, Inc. for more information. His e-mail address is mtrahan@solarconnecticut.org and his telephone is  (860) 256-1698.

Rock to Rock News and High School Energy Awareness Programs

by Chris Schweitzer, New Haven/León Sister City Project

It’s time to get excited about the 10th Annual Rock to Rock Earth Day Ride. We are joining forces with Green Drinks to put on a Pint Night to benefit Rock to Rock Wednesday, March 14, 6-7:30 at Patagonia, 1 Broadway (corner of York St.), New Haven. We will have beer from Blue Point Brewery, wine, refreshments, live music from Andrew Biagiarelli, and our ever-popular raffle. Admission: $5 donation to Rock to Rock.

Rock to Rock is New Haven’s biggest Earth Day celebration. Here’s how it works: You and about a thousand of your neighbors travel by bicycle from West Rock and East Rock, with celebrations on both sides of the city. Along the way, eat tasty food, hear great music, take on environmental service projects, and explore our city’s parks and neighborhoods. Info: info@rocktorock.org or (203) 285-6147.

Climate Health and Energy Week (CHEW) is an opportunity–April 30 to May 5–for New Haven-area high schools to broaden climate change awareness and engage in concrete action to cut greenhouse gases, improve health and reduce energy use and expense. CHEW organizers are researching and developing–with educators and school administrators–a variety of program/activity options to be available to individual teachers, departments, grade levels, schools, or the entire school district. The range of options will enable educators to meet the specific needs and realities of their school. Other non-school youth and community organiz-ations can also participate.

Check out the website  www.climateweeknh.org or contact Margalie at Margalie Belizaire mbeliza32@gmail.com or call (203) 562-1607.  Also please submit good climate education activities!

New Haven Solar Program Gains Momentum as Electricity Rates Increase

Solarize New Haven makes going solar easy and affordable. In the first eight weeks of its residential solar campaign, 90 New Haven homeowners have expressed interest in determining their home’s ability to capture solar energy and offset their electricity bill.

That number is expected to climb as United Illuminating’s residential electricity generation rates in January increased 27%. Solar’s ability to protect against future utility rate increases is one of its most appealing benefits.

New Haven residents must sign a contract by March 7 to qualify for Solarize New Haven pricing. To find out if your home is good for solar go to SolarizeCT.com/New-Haven. Residents who live in surrounding communities can also participate in Solarize by going to SolarizeCT.com.

Upcoming solar workshops will take place on Saturday, Feb. 10, 7-8 p.m., at the First Unitarian Universalist Society, 608 Whitney Ave., and on Sunday, Feb. 11, 1-2:30 p.m., at the New Haven Friends Meeting, 225 E. Grand Ave. More information about Solarize New Haven can be found by visiting SolarizeCT.com/New-Haven or by contacting Chamae Mejias cmejias@smartpower.org, (860) 331-1041.

Help Puerto Rico Recover with Solar Power!

Arnaaz Khwaja, New Haven/León Sister City Project

The Elm Energy Efficiency Project and New Haven/León Sister City Project are launching a new project called the Solar Solidarity Project. Its aim is to raise money to build and install solar panels in Puerto Rico using home energy savings from the New Haven area. We would like people to lower their energy usage and redirect their energy bill savings to help give Puerto Rico clean, renewable energy.

This project also addresses the ever pressing issue of climate change and helps Puerto Rico become less dependent on a power grid, in prepar-ation for future natural disasters.

You can learn more about the project, how to get involved, and how to donate at our website: http://www.elmenergyproject.org/solidarity-solar-project. If you are a teacher or student interested in having your school involved in this project, please email us at solarsolidarityproject@gmail.com.

Thank you!

 

Green Fund Now Accepting Applications for 2018 Funding

The Greater New Haven Green Fund solicits small and large grant applications once a year.

An electronic version of the cover letter, application, budget, and attachments should be sent to grants@gnhgreenfund.org.

You may download the request for applications (RFA) for the Green Fund or the Public Service Enterprise Group, Inc (PSEG) by going to http://www.gnhgreenfund.org. Deadline is 5 p.m. Jan. 12, 2018.

They’ve changed the RFA this year so be sure to review the initial pages, especially if you have applied for grants in previous years.

The PSEG RFA is separate from the regular grants because the money came from a Community Benefit Agreement between the City of New Haven and PSEG, Inc. to provide small grants to help educate citizens about air pollution. You may apply for the 2018 RFA or the 2018 PSEG RFA but not both. Go to http://www.gnhgreenfund.org to download the RFA.

People’s Action for Clean Energy Annual Meeting

by Mark Scully, Director

Please join PACE for a celebration among friends of the good work being done to advance local clean energy across the state at 7 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 2 at the Unitarian Society of Hartford, 50 Bloomfield Rd.

PACE will recognize and celebrate the accomplishments of two inspiring environmental leaders: Jamie Wolf of Wolfworks, Inc. will receive a lifetime achievement award for his career of designing sustainable homes, and Craig Lewis of Clean Coalition will be honored for his bold and creative leadership in promoting local clean energy and a modern electric grid.

The evening will be informative, featuring a keynote address from Craig Lewis on “Renewables-Driven Community Microgrids” and updates on a range of good work being done in the state, including PACE’s own 100PercentCT Project, led by Bernie Pelletier.
To make it a real celebration, State Troubadour Kate Callahan will open and close the evening with her musical gifts.

Innovations in Alternative Energy and Power Generation in Cuba

On Saturday, Dec. 16, 10:30 a.m. to noon, join us at the New Haven Free Public Library, 133 Elm Street, for a discussion about Cuba’s energy future with Professor Luis Vazquez Seisdedos.

Luis Vazquez Seisdedos

Luis Vazquez Seisdedos, PhD., is a full professor in the Department of Automatic Control, part of the Faculty of Electrical Engineering in the University of Oriente, Santiago de Cuba, Cuba. He has more than 30 years’ experience as a professor with a multidisciplinary background that includes electro-mechanical conversion systems, energy-converting systems, using fossil sources and renewable re-sources, power electronics, electric drives, analog and digital electronics, system theory and systems modeling and identification. Previously, he was a skilled engineer of seismic instruments and seismic-telemetric networks for automated earthquake detection in Cuba.

This event is co-sponsored by: Alderman Jose Crespo— Ward 16, Alderwoman Dolores Colon—Ward 6, the City of New Haven Peace Commission, the Greater New Haven Peace Commission, New Haven/León Sister City Project. For more info email Seth at sgodfrey@nhfpl.org or call (203) 946-7450. We hope you can make it! To reserve a seat, go to www.eventbrite.com/e/innovations-in-alternative-energy-and-power-generation-in-cuba-tickets-40173606338.

Elm Energy Efficiency Project

by Chris Schweitzer, New Haven/ León Sister City Project

The Elm Energy Efficiency Project and New Haven/León Sister City Project are launching a new project called the Solar Solidarity Project. The Project will help families save more on home energy, and have them donate those savings to install solar panels in Puerto Rico (Cool It Here – Build It There!). This project will help reduce your carbon footprint, and help Puerto Rico become less dependent on a vulnerable power grid. All donations will go to Resilient Power Puerto Rico, a project of the Coastal Management Resource Center (a 501c3 organization). For more information, call (203) 562-1607 or go to elmenergyproject.org/solidarity-solar-project.

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