Details on Legislative Bill Regarding Electricity Concerns

by Paula Panzarella, New Haven Energy Task Force

In the course of the August storm Isaias, almost 800,000 Connecticut households and businesses lost electricity, some for over ten days. This prompted the Energy and Technology Committee of the State Legislature to take on a number of issues as the failures of United Illuminating and Eversource’s understaffing, unpreparedness and non-coordination with other companies and resources were exposed, causing great hardship and expense to many customers.

The Energy and Technology Committee is reviewing a bill, LCO 3920 (pdf) (An Act Concerning Emergency Response by Electric Distribution Companies and Revising the Regulation of Other Public Utilities), that can right a lot of wrongs of United Illuminating and Eversource. It is comprehensive and includes:

  • More oversight and consumer protection regarding the business practices of 3rd party electricity suppliers;
  • Attention to microgrid development and offer a resilience grant and loan pilot programs;
    Consideration for implementation of low-income rates;
  • Reimbursement for customers who have to throw out food due to extended power outages;
  • More transparency and a review of gas and electrical companies’ financial and operating funds;
  • Calls for public hearings for rate increases; and
  • “An Independent Consumer Advocate to act as an independent advocate for ratepayer interests in all matters that may affect the rate-payers of each electric distribution company… Independent Consumer Advocate shall be instituted on the board of directors for each electric distribution company.”

    How the bill can be improved:

  1. The Legislature needs to restore the $155 million that was taken from the Clean Energy Fund in 2018 and put back into the General Fund. Safeguards must be in place so such a seizure can never happen again.
  2. Not allow the continued blackmail of Dominion regard-ing Millstone nuclear power plant. CT ratepayers should not have to pay the entire cost of keeping Millstone open.
  3. Stop the construction of the Killingly gas plant. Creation of this plant runs totally counter to the State’s moves to deal with mitigating the effects of climate change.

Save the Sound (www.savethesound.org) has also alerted people to other issues that need to be addressed in this bill:

Expand energy storage. The only way Connecticut can increase renewable energy procurement, including offshore wind, solar, hydropower, etc. is to expand storage. Otherwise, we will lack the necessary infrastructure to expand renewable energy to meet the state’s goals.

Expand the Residential Solar Investment Program (RSIP) to provide more economical solar options to homeowners and lower the burden on the grid.

Keep solar net metering until 2022. This will allow PURA to focus on other grid modification efforts instead of a rushed new net metering program.

More information can be accessed at this website: https://www.cga.ct.gov/et

Contact the Energy and Technology with your suggestions for what should be included.
Energy and Technology Committee, Legislative Office Building, Room 3900, Hartford, CT 06106
(860) 240‑0430 ettestimony@cga.ct.gov.

And let your own State Senator and Representative know too!

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