“Solar for All” Campaign Comes to New Haven

by Paula Panzarella, New Haven Energy Task Force

Some of the roadblocks homeowners have encountered for getting solar power have been knocked down. Now low- and middle-income homeowners in New Haven can get solar panels, thanks to the partnership of the PosiGen company with the Connecticut Green Bank. No income requirements, no high credit scores, no security deposit or down payment are needed for resident homeowners to have leased solar panels installed on their roofs. What is needed is a south-facing roof in good condition that gets unobstructed sunshine a good part of the day.

If fifty or more people sign up before March 31, their monthly lease payments will be $20 for a year. After that, it will be $79.99 per month (this is in addition to UI’s basic charge, presently at $17.25).
The New Haven Energy Task Force is promoting this campaign so more people will have the opportunity to save money, create clean energy, receive energy audits and various energy efficiency services and reduce the need for dirty peak power energy plants to come on-line.

The New Haven Energy Task Force does not specifically endorse any one company’s services compared to the services of any other installer. Interested residents should get quotes from other installers to compare service and prices. Before you sign any contract, make sure the company answers your questions and explains the process so you know what to expect.

To find out more about “Solar for All,” contact PosiGen at (203) 416-6518. Please mention you were referred by the New Haven Energy Task Force. The Energy Task Force can be reached at newhavenenergytaskforce@gmail.com.

Home Energy Programs to Help CT Residents

by Judi Friedman, PACE

Here are some of the many home energy resources, incentives, rebates and financial assistance programs available.

Energy Efficiency Programs 1-877-WISEUSE, http://www.energizect.com. CT Energy Efficiency Fund conservation programs are administered by the electric and gas utilities.

  1. Whole house energy conservation programs: Call 1-877-WISEUSE for info or click on the program name you are interested in at http://www.energizect.com/hes.
    1. Home Energy Solutions (HES) $99 for all homes (not for income-eligible customers—see B). Open to renters and owners. Services include air sealing, hot water and lighting improvements, and access to special rebates and financing.
      * Insulation rebate; $1/sq. ft. for attic/walls, $0.50/sq. ft. for basement.
      * Appliances: $25-$50 rebate for ENERGY STAR refrigerators/freezers, room air conditioners, dishwashers, clothes dryers, dehumidifiers if recommended in a HES visit.
      B. HES Income-Eligible: free energy-saving service for households under 60% state median income.
      C. New construction program: call 1-877-WISEUSE for home energy rating and rebates.
      D. Multi Family Program: call 1-877-WISEUSE.
  2. Efficient Lighting now including LED, is discounted in participating retail stores and through the Smart Living Catalog: http://www.efi.org/smartliving or order at (800) 527-4448.
  3. Heating/Cooling Appliance Rebates or Discounts are available for ductless heat pumps, air-source heat pumps, geothermal heat pumps, high-efficiency gas furnaces, natural gas boilers with water heaters, oil furnaces, propane furnaces, central air conditioning. (Call 1-877-WISE-USE or http://energizect.com/residents/solutions/rebates. Automatic discounts at participating retailers & distributors) Solar Power Incentives (860) 563-0015 are administered by the Green Bank, a quasi-public state agency (formerly CEFIA)
    * Solar Electric incentives: for purchased and leased systems, go to http://www.energizect.com/smallsolar.
    Financinghttp://www.energizect.com/residents/solutions/financing.
    Residential Energy Efficiency Financing Program (HES)
    http://www.chif.org/page/borrower-information-and-application
    Loans available at 0% to 6.99% interest for energy improvements. Energy Conservation Loans – Income-restricted below market (0-6% interest) loans up to $25,000.
    http://www.chif.org/page/energy-conservation-loan-program.
    Clean Energy and Energy Efficiency Financing (through Connecticut Green Bank)
    Smart-E – http://www.energizect.com/smarte Comprehensive way to finance many energy efficiency or renewable energy measures. Flexible terms and rates available.
    Federal Energy Tax Credits
    Renewable energy tax credits 30% through 2016, no cap on total dollar amount.
    Questions? Contact Guy West of Clean Water Action/ Clean
    Water Fund, email: guy_west@att.net.

New Haven Energy Task Force News

by Paula Panzarella, ETF

The push for affordable solar energy in the New Haven area has gotten the attention from various companies and organizations. PosiGen, Grid Alternatives and SolarizeCT all offer programs that will help people get solar panels and greatly lower their electric bills.

PosiGen, a solar installation company that specifically includes low- to medium-income homeowners in their target group, will be running a campaign in New Haven starting mid-January. PosiGen’s service includes a free energy audit. PosiGen recently started a campaign in Bridgeport, and has signed up close to 170 homes there, 50 percent of them low- to medium-income. The press conference announcing the beginning of its campaign in New Haven is scheduled for Tuesday, Jan. 12 at Neighborhood Housing Services in Building #3 of 333 Sherman Ave., New Haven. Please call Kathy Fay for details at (475) 227-0540.

Grid Alternatives has met with the New Haven Energy Task Force and plans to come here in the spring. The City of New Haven is currently reviewing the Solarize New Haven proposal and, once approved, its campaign will also take off in our city.

The New Haven Energy Task Force supports these campaigns and will help with their outreach efforts. These are exciting opportunities to bring solar power to New Haven residents, particularly those who may think that solar is out of their reach due to financial constraints.

We do not specifically endorse any one company’s services compared to the services of any other installer. Interested residents should get quotes from alternative installers to compare service and prices. Before you sign any contract make sure the company answers your questions and explains the process so you know what to expect. Members of the Energy Task Force are available to answer questions about solar that residents may have. Please call me at (203) 562-2798 if you are interested in the process we went through when our solar panels were installed.

Other news: The City of New Haven has officially re-instituted the Environmental Advisory Council. Its first meeting will be in January, the date has yet to be announced. Stay tuned on our Facebook page for more information or sign up for free email updates on this page.

Fast Against Fracking

by Melinda Tuhus, environmental activist and journalist

The bad news is that fracked gas pipelines exist and more are proposed all over the country. The good news is the same, meaning the front lines of the battle are everywhere, involving thousands of people – property owners, students, climate activists. Beyond Extreme Energy (BXE) was born in July 2014 when a group sat in and was arrested in D.C. at the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC), a quasi-governmental agency (funded by the industries that it regulates) that approves gas infrastructure, including interstate pipelines, storage facilities, compressor stations and super-high polluting liquefied natural gas (LNG) terminals. We have done three multi-day actions at FERC in the past year. From September 8-25, a dozen members of BXE conducted an 18-day, water-only fast in front of FERC headquarters, demanding No New Permits.

Why a fast? Despite opponents attending meetings, speaking at public hearings, filing comments on dockets of proposed pipelines, carrying out civil disobedience in which hundreds of people have been arrested both at FERC and at various sites – all without having much of an impact – members of BXE determined that a fast would be a different kind of action and could reach the hearts of people in a way these other actions hadn’t. We distributed thousands of handouts and talked to hundreds of people, including FERC employees and even the chairman of the Commission.

I provided logistical support for the fast, including driving the van, writing flyers and contacting the media. We all stayed together at night at a D.C. church. And we didn’t just sit around at FERC – we were very active in supporting other issues and events, like the culmination of the NAACP’s Journey for Justice from Selma to D.C.; a major press conference to support Bernie Sanders’s Keep It in the Ground bill in the Senate to end permitting for fossil fuel extraction on public lands; a climate-conscious Yom Kippur service at the Lincoln Memorial and events related to Pope Francis’s visit to D.C.

No, FERC didn’t stop issuing permits – yet. But we feel we changed the tone of the conversation, solidified our commitment to stopping fracked gas and its infrastructure, and mutually expanded our connections with many other groups like Black Lives Matter, faith-based communities, and climate justice workers around the country.

For more information about BXE or groups in CT working on this issue, email me at Melinda.tuhus2@gmail.com.

Remaking Connecticut’s Energy System to Embrace Community Energy Dec. 16, 10:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m.

Acadia Center invites Connecticut residents to a discussion at the NH Free Public Library that will focus on how the energy needs of communities in particular can be better served by changes in policy and decision making. How do we make sure that the current clean energy revolution puts Connecticut’s communities at its center?

The gathering will feature an expert discussion on how communities can be empowered to take control of their energy costs and needs through new approaches and policy innovations.  Our expert panelists will be: Scudder Parker, Senior Policy Adviser, Vermont Energy Investment Corporation; Jonathan Glass, President & Co-Founder, Wise Labs; Jamie Howland, Director, Energy Efficiency and Demand-Side Initiative, Acadia Center.

Select topics will include: (1) creating a sustainable energy utility to better serve community energy needs, (2) exploring the community benefits offered by smart LED streetlights, and (3) identifying notable community energy trends in the Northeast.  This discussion will be followed by breakout groups of attendees to further explore specific issues in depth. We hope you will join us at the NH Free Public Library, 133 Elm St.

Acadia Center is a non-profit, research and advocacy organization committed to advancing the clean energy future. Acadia Center is at the forefront of efforts to build clean, low-carbon and consumer-friendly economies. Acadia Center provides accurate and reliable information, and offers a real-world and comprehensive approach to problem solving through innovation and collaboration. http://www.acadiacenter.org

PACE Presents ‘Wake Up, Connecticut’ Nov. 21

by Judi Friedman, People’s Action for Clean Energy

Saturday, Nov. 21, People’s Action for Clean Energy will present WAKE UP, CONNECTICUT, featuring Connecticut leaders who are successfully working on renewable energy investments; Connecticut clean energy legislation; solar community-building; and solar panel installation. The 2015 Lifetime Achievement Award will be presented to Lucas Hixson (MI), who has just returned from inside the Chernobyl nuclear plant. He will showcase the ongoing dangers that this accident still represents and compare it to present and possible US nuclear plant scenarios.

Beginning at 6 p.m., homemade Stromboli, desserts and beverages will be available for purchase, with opportunities to view exhibits and literature. After a brief meeting at 7 p.m., opened by former State Rep. and PACE President Timothy Bowles, awards to unique Connecticut leaders will include State Rep. Jonathan Steinberg; the leaders of the Connecticut Roundtable on Climate and Jobs; Bernard Zahren of Clean Feet Investors; Allied Printing; and Beyond Nuclear board member Lucas Hixson.

This timely and special free public event will conclude with evocative songs sung by beautiful Teryn Kuzma with bandura accompaniment.

The program will take place at the Hartford Friends Meeting House, 144 S. Quaker Lane, West Hartford. For more information, go to http://www.pace-cleanenergy.org or call (860) 693-4813.

 

Sharon House Tour Oct. 3: Fascinating Solar Straw Bale House Saves Energy

by Judi Friedman, People’s Action for Clean Energy

A fascinating passive solar home is on tour in Sharon, CT on Saturday, October 3. This Net Zero Energy Challenge winning house has organic straw bale construction and 33 solar-electric panels on the house and horse barn. Tours and seminars will be held at 12 noon and 2:30 p.m. by the knowledgeable owners and technology experts. Nearby, the Sharon Audubon Center has one-hour raptor aviary tours at 10 a.m. and 3:30 p.m. for $5 per person.

The house has a dramatic open floor plan, with a beautiful handmade masonry heater that supplies most of the heat. Other energy-saving features include solar-powered mini split ductless heat and cooling pumps; ground mount solar hot water panels; an HRV air exchanger; natural lighting supplemented by LED and compact fluorescent bulbs; and recycled energy-efficient appliances.

The event is sponsored by People’s Action for Clean Energy, the only all-volunteer nonprofit public health organization in Connecticut devoted solely to clean energy education. Co-sponsors are the Sharon Audubon Society and the Connecticut Chapter of the Sierra Club.

Reservations will be accepted in order of receipt for the October 3 tour, which will be held rain or shine. The non-refundable tickets are $15 per person. To order tickets, go online to www.pace-cleanenergy.org and click on Events, indicating the choice of time for the tours and seminars. Tickets may also be ordered by sending $15 per person to PACE c/o Donna Grant, 128 Melrose Road, Broad Brook, CT 06016. Include the ticketholder’s name, phone number, address, email address and choice of time. For ticket information, call (860) 623-5487. For tour information, call (860) 693-4813.

Announcing New Haven’s Energy Task Force and Environmental Advisory Council

by Paula Panzarella, Energy Task Force

Since this past March, a number of New Haven residents and representatives of environmental organizations have been meeting once a month to develop an Energy Task Force (ETF). On Sept. 21, the New Haven Board of Alders unanimously approved the creation of an Environmental Advisory Council (EAC). Once the EAC is developed, it is hoped the ETF will be empowered to 1) become the expert on all aspects of the production, use and conservation of energy in New Haven, 2) evaluate the best methods for all segments of the city to become energy efficient and carbon neutral as quickly as possible, 3) inform the administration, Board of Alders and residents on these issues and 4) propose, encourage and evaluate actions to achieve the goals of energy efficiency and end our reliance on fossil fuels as quickly as possible.

Until then, programs that ETF members have been working on include popularizing solar power and the different programs that make it affordable for low-income communities and others; working with the City and State legislature to have more clean energy and energy-efficient programs in place; and networking with Energy Task Forces in other CT towns and businesses and organizations that promote clean energy to discuss how their successes may work in New Haven.

For more information, you can e-mail newhavenenergytaskforce@gmail.com, or phone Annie Harper at (203) 668-1213, or Paula and Frank Panzarella at (203) 562-2798.

Environmental Videos on Your Computer

by Judi Friedman, PACE

Enjoy the wonderful work of Connecticut Environmental SUPERSTARS discussing issues with People’s Action for Clean Energy!

Go to www.nutmegTV.org. At the top of the page click on VIDEO ON DEMAND. In the space “Title Contains” write PACE and click on SEARCH. Scroll down.

Interviews include Paul Gunter of Beyond Nuclear, Bernie Zahren of Clean Feet Investors, Jeffrey Macel of Lodestar Energy, Bill Freeman and Alicia Dolce of Celebration Contracting, Chris Phelps of Environment Connecticut, John Humphries of The Connecticut Roundtable On Climate Change and Jobs, Mike Trahan of Solar Connecticut, and Bob Wall of the Connecticut Clean Energy Fund and The Green Bank.

PACE applauds these fine people doing critical and difficult work to improve the health, safety and economic welfare of all our Connecticut population. Please let us know if you would like copies of these programs for your local cable stations. Email Judi Friedman at jfriedeco@aol.com.

Also PACE President Tim Bowles is discussing PACE issues on WHPX-TV Public Affairs TV show For the Record. Once the show is aired you can go to Google.com and type ftrctri in the search to see recent shows. www.pace-cleanenergy.org.

Will CT Legislators Finally Get the Bright Idea to Support Solar Power for All?

by Paula Panzarella, Fight the Hike

As of this printing, Senate Bill 928, facilitating shared solar projects in Connecticut, has still not been scheduled for a vote in the CT State Legislature. As mentioned in last month’s PAR newsletter, “Large-scale solar investment has been successful in Massachusetts and other states. Pilot projects are not necessary to track its feasibility. It works!”

The legislative session will end June 3, a few days after this newsletter is mailed out. If the fate of SB 928 has not yet been decided, please contact your legislators and the co-chairs of the Energy and Technology committee and the governor  to let them know you support expansion of shared solar in CT.

Co-chair Rep. Lonnie Reed, 1-800-842-8267
Lonnie.Reed@cga.ct.gov

Co-chair Sen. Paul Doyle, 1-800-842-1420
Doyle@senatedems.ct.gov

Gov. Dannel Malloy, 1-800-406-1527

There is an on-line petition here: petitions.moveon.org/sign/let-everyone-go-solar?source=s.icn.em.cp&r_by=13042003

Any questions? Call Paula or Frank, (203) 562-2798.

Will Batteries Change the Power Grid?

by Judi Friedman, PACE (with special thanks to Joel Gordes)

Watch out! Natural gas expansion may turn out to be a stranded cost that we all pay for! The expansion of Tesla, the luxury electric car maker, into batteries for homes could make projects like the Eversource Northern Pass transmission project and the proposed natural gas pipeline expansion into a stranded cost. Perhaps someday even insurance companies may also provide insurance policy premium reductions for battery storage capabilities.

Zero Energy House Tour May 2

by Judi Friedman, People’s Action for Clean Energy

A Killingly, Connecticut zero energy house will be open to the public on Saturday, May 2. Tours and seminars will be held at noon and 2:30 p.m. The 2,600-square-foot Net Zero Energy Challenge winner has 12-inch thick walls; solar panels; air source heating and cooling pumps; a heat pump water heater; an ICF foundation; triple glazed windows; ceiling and sub slab insulation; and constant fresh air ventilation.

Other energy-saving features in this ideal retirement home include lighting from LED and compact fluorescent bulbs and energy-efficient appliances (Energy Star). The house has French drains (no gutters, no ice dams) and a permeable driveway. Electric cars will be on display. The tour/seminar is sponsored by People’s Action for Clean Energy (PACE), the only all-volunteer nonprofit public health organization in Connecticut devoted solely to clean energy education.

Additional information will be available on ethanol fireplaces; combination solar hot water for a radiant floor and a solar heated pool; surplus energy for electric cars; affordable retirement homes and minisplit  heat pumps.

Reservations will be accepted in order of receipt for the May 2 tour, which will be held rain or shine. The non-refundable tickets are $15.00 per person. To order tickets, go online to www.pace-cleanenergy.org and click on Events, indicating the choice of time for the tours and seminar.

Tickets may also be ordered by sending $15.00 per person to PACE c/o Donna Grant, 128 Melrose Road, Broad Brook, CT 06016. Include the ticketholder’s name, phone number, address, email address and choice of time. For ticket information, call (860) 623-5487. For tour information, call (860) 693-4813.

Don’t Let Legislators Toss Crumbs to Ratepayers

Frank Panzarella, Fight the Hike

There is a chance for Connecticut legislators in this session to approve large-scale shared solar projects with the passage of SB 928. However, instead of facilitating shared solar throughout the state, the Energy and Technology Committee, contrary to its own commissioned study, revised the bill to allow only two pilot projects (one being a two megawatt capacity and the other a four megawatt) for three years. When public testimony was accepted in March, hundreds of Connecticut residents wrote, telephoned and spoke to their legislators and members of the Energy and Technology Committee to encourage large-scale shared solar projects throughout the state.

pace-peoples-action-for-clean-energy-nuclear-solarNeedless to say, Fight the Hike members are disappointed that the Energy and Technology Committee wants to hold back on increasing the number of sustainable energy projects for CT residents. Large-scale solar investment has been successful in Massachusetts and other states. Pilot projects are not necessary to track its feasibility. It works!

Unfortunately, it looks like our governor, the Dept. of Energy and Environmental Protection and others are side-stepping the expansion of solar energy and developed a disastrous policy to broaden natural gas transmission. We rate-payers will pay huge extra costs for increased gas development and have no guarantee of cheaper energy.

In addition, the price of electricity is tagged to the price of natural gas.  Is it an accident that UI and its parent company, the Spanish giant Iberdrola, are also very much involved in the natural gas and renewable expansion industries? The fact is these companies want to stall solar power until they can create rules and laws that will allow them to monopolize and grab the lion’s share of profit from these new industries away from the wonderful competitive pool of small solar companies (many growing right here in Connecticut) while the utilities also benefit from gas expansion. At present they want to hide the true value of solar power so as to control it.

The Energy and Technology Committee’s own commissioned study by the Connecticut Academy of Science and Engineering called for a large-scale shared solar project. Why would they ignore their own scientific report? Has some kind of back-room pressure been applied to sabotage progress, a free market and to keep rate-payers tied to the over-priced energy of corporate monopolies?

Please contact your legislators and the co-chairs of the Energy and Technology committee to let them know you support expansion of shared solar in CT.

Co-chair Rep. Lonnie Reed, 1-800-842-8267 Lonnie.Reed@cga.ct.gov
Co-chair Sen. Paul Doyle, 1-800-842-1420 Doyle@senatedems.ct.gov
Gov. Dannel Malloy, 1-800-406-1527

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