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).

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.

Shocking Electric News from Fight the Hike

Paula Panzarella, Fight the Hike

On Monday, Nov. 17, the Public Utilities Regulatory Authority (PURA) approved excessive rate hikes for UI and CL&P customers who are on the standard offer. The generation rate increase was requested eleven days prior to PURA’s approval and did not require public testimony. It is estimated the average UI customer with the standard offer will have an increase of $35 a month starting January 1, 2015.

CL&P customers who have the standard offer will, on average, have an increase of $18 a month.
This is blatantly disregarding and disrespecting the residents and businesses of Connecticut by foisting such huge increases without any warning. Can you imagine if it were known that the companies wanted this raise prior to the election? Electricity and energy rates would have been a major issue in the debates, forcing candidates to take positions and discuss ways to nullify or at least forestall these increases.

We urge people to contact PURA and CT Attorney General George Jepsen and let them know your thoughts about this.

  • PURA: phone: (860) 827-1553 and toll free (800) 382-4586, fax: (860) 827-2822 e-mail: pura.information@ct.gov Ten Franklin Square, New Britain, CT 06051
  • CT Attorney General George Jepsen phone: (860) 808-5318 fax: (860) 808-5387 e-mail: attorney.general@ct.gov 55 Elm Street, Hartford, CT 06106

People might also want to contact their state senators and representatives. Shouldn’t we have legislation to prevent such an increase going into effect without a public hearing?

In other news, the CT Roundtable on Climate and Jobs met on Nov. 17 in East Hartford for a discussion concerning CL&P’s proposed 60% increase in the monthly fixed charge for residential delivery of electricity. PURA is scheduled to issue its draft decision on this raise Dec. 1. A petition is being circulated via the internet at http://bit.ly/RTstatement11-14. To get more information about CT Roundtable on Climate and Jobs, please contact John Humphries, (860)216-7972, john.humphries1664@gmail.com.