A Steep Rate Hike for Electricity Due to Increased Cost of Government Mandates

by Francisco Uranga, CT Examiner, April 19, 2024

Connecticut customers will pay significantly higher electric bills starting July 1, after a rate hike of more than 12 percent to pay for a doubling of charges stemming from government mandates including energy assistance, a shut-off moratorium and the Millstone purchase agreement. The Public Utilities Regulatory Authority (PURA) approved a rate increase on Wednesday for Eversource and United Illuminating. Together, the utilities serve 80 percent of the state’s residential customers. The hike resulted from the so-called Rate Adjustment Mechanism, an annual adjustment by which utilities request rate changes based on the cost of mandated public programs.

United Illuminating estimates that the rate increase will average $30 a month, depending on each user’s consumption, a 12 percent increase. Eversource had not yet estimated the impact, according to a company spokeswoman. The new rates will apply starting July 1 and will be in effect for 10 months or until a review in September.

PURA commissioners voted 2-1 in favor of the increase. The negative vote came from the agency’s chairwoman, Marissa Gillett. She suggested that the cost recovery should be staggered over two to three years rather than 10 months to soften the impact on consumers.

“Unfortunately, though, today’s decision by PURA is likely to place further financial strain on those that can least afford it, and it will also hit the pocketbooks of our business community in a particularly challenging way,” Gillett said in her defense.

Connecticut has one of the most expensive electric rates in the country. Among the reasons are high generation costs, a segment that is deregulated and where Connecticut has the disadvantage of being at the end of the natural gas pipeline, driving up prices, and public charges, which range from programs to encourage renewable energy to bill payment assistance for people with economic hardship, and the power purchase agreement with Dominion Energy’s Millstone nuclear power plant.
[Read the complete article at: https://ctexaminer.com/2024/04/19/state-regulators-approve-a-steep-rate-hike-for-electricity-due-to-a-doubling-cost-of-government-mandates]

CT Green Energy News

March 15, 2024

News and events for advocates of clean energy, energy efficiency and climate action at the state and local levels, focusing on Connecticut. Brought to you by People’s Action for Clean Energy (PACE), www.pacecleanergy.org

CT Mirror: Debate over Electric Vehicles in CT “Republicans and Democrats staged a dress rehearsal
Wed. for debates expected on the state House floor next month and in campaigns this fall over how aggressively CT should push zero-emission vehicles to mitigate air pollution and climate change. The venue was a public hearing on House Bill 5485, which would create a 40-member Electric Vehicle Infrastructure Coordinating Council to assess the readiness of the auto market, electric grid and charging infrastructure for a shift to electric vehicles, while not mandating any targets or deadlines.
The Republican minority leaders, Rep. Candelora of North Branford and Sen. Harding of Brookfield opposed the bill in live testimony before the Transportation Committee as a step towards something the measure does not authorize — an eventual ban on gas-powered vehicles.”

Frontier Group: In Praise of Rooftop Solar “Because solar power and other forms of renewable energy supply electricity at near-zero marginal cost, they tend to reduce wholesale electricity prices for consumers. A 2020 study by Synapse Energy Economics estimated that distributed (behind-the-meter) solar reduced wholesale electricity costs by $1.1 billion between 2014 and 2019. Adding in the public health benefits of reduced power plant emissions and the reduced need for electricity generating capacity, they estimated that behind-the-meter solar delivered benefits ranging from 20.5 to 37 cents per kilowatt-hour In New England. That savings figure – which rivals retail electricity prices in the region – is an understatement, since it does not include savings from avoided investments in transmission and distribution infratructure, to which Synapse did not assign a dollar value.

Connecticut Using More Fracked Methane Gas to Power the State

by Sierra Club Connecticut 

Connecticut has been actively expanding the use and transport of methane or “natural” gas in the state for over ten years, and the results are not good. We pay the highest price for electricity of anybody in the continental U.S., we have the worst air pollution in New England, and the state continues to release greenhouse gas emissions at unsustainably high levels. While emissions from transportation constitute a large percentage of the air pollution released in our state, approximately 40 percent, pollution from energy generation is the next largest source at about 39 percent.

At the same time as the state invested public funds to construct corporate-owned methane infrastructure, it also passed laws and regulations that put up barriers to solar development. Although more solar energy on the grid is associated with improved reliability and fewer greenhouse gas emissions, state agencies and legislators have actively blocked the solar industry. There is only one benefit of reducing people’s ability to access clean energy: it ensures larger profits for Connecticut’s gas and electric monopolies Eversource and UI/Avangrid.

Sierra Club Connecticut is leading the fight to stop fossil gas expansion and to demand that the state convert to a renewable energy-powered economy. There are multiple gas expansion projects we are opposing: the Enbridge gas pipeline expansion from New York to Massachusetts that will cut across the entire state of Connecticut; the Milford and Brookfield gas compressor station expansions that will bring additional methane to NYC, which recently passed a law to phase methane out of new construction; and a brand new Eversource pipeline in Wilton to connect houses to fracked gas rather than to clean, efficient and affordable renewable thermal technology. For more information, see our website: connecticut.sierraclub.org. To get involved, contact Nick at [email protected] or Martha at [email protected].

Southern CT Gas Proposed Rate Increase

The Southern Connecticut Gas Company wants to raise its rates. The average monthly residential bill will be approximately $10 to $13.50 more per month.

Public Utilities Regulatory Authority (PURA) has scheduled Public Comment Hearings for this application (Docket 23-11-02) on Wednesday, January 17, at the West Haven Library, 300 Elm St., West Haven, at 5:30 p.m. Testify in person about what this rate hike will mean to you! You can also write to PURA at 10 Franklin Square, New Britain, CT 06051, or send an email to [email protected].

There will also be a Zoom hearing on Friday, Feb. 16 at noon. The schedule for the docket is available on PURA’s website portal.ct.gov/pura. For additional public hearings on the proposed rate hike, call 800-382-4586 or email [email protected].

For questions about the proposed rates, the public hearing, or how to submit comments on the application, contact PURA at 800-382-4586 or [email protected].

PACE Green Energy News

News and events for advocates of clean energy, energy efficiency and climate action at the state and local levels, focusing on Connecticut. Brought to you by People’s Action for Clean Energy (PACE), www.pacecleanergy.org.

Connecticut’s failure to act on climate hurts in more ways than one. CT Mirror. “In my conversations with other young activists, it has long been abundantly clear that we know and care — acutely, often painfully — about these issues, and that we’re actively seeking ways to change them. Yet despite all of our action and concern, we’re often unsure if elected officials, in their inaction, care nearly as much. It’s for this reason…that I’ve witnessed the greatest shifts towards hopelessness in my few years as a young advocate. It comes from feeling like despite our megaphones, we’re speaking to a brick wall; it comes when we watch climate legislation like the Transportation Climate Initiative (TCI) used as take-it-or-leave-it bargaining chips or punted by leaders at the drop of a hat when the political stars no longer align, rather than built upon and improved as the critical climate measures we need. Plainly, it comes when young people exhaust their capacity to yell.”

Study: Business lobbying a major barrier to clean energy legislation in Connecticut  Energy News Network. “Brown University researchers found that utility and business interests outspend environmental organizations on lobbying 8-to-1, though an industry group says the study overstates its spending and influence on energy…’Environmental groups and ordinary citizens will never have the money or resources to match what Ever-source and the CBIA spend to influence lawmakers. But broad majorities of Americans see climate change as a serious problem and are demanding action from their elected leaders. So the real power is at the polls.’ ”

New England’s power system is at ‘heightened risk’ heading into winter.  Hartford Courant. “If the risks materialize and threaten the reliability of New England’s power system, the ISO said it will turn to several operating procedures to manage the grid, “up to and including controlled power outages.” Outages are a “last resort,” the ISO said. It wants to “educate the public that if this step were required, it would be used to protect the region’s power grid from an overall collapse.”…the ISO will urge conservation, asking customers to “turn down the thermostat, use appliances less frequently and minimize cooking.”

CT Green Energy News

News and events for advocates of clean energy, energy efficiency, and climate action at the state and local levels, focusing on Connecticut. Brought to you by People’s Action for Clean Energy (PACE). Visit www.pacecleanergy.org.

CT energy assistance needs more state funding, advocates say:
CT Mirror. “With federal heating assistance projected to drop and oil prices rising, advocates say CT officials should use state funds for heating aid. Energy assistance advocates are renewing their call for Connecticut to tap its robust coffers to help keep poor families warm this winter. The alarm intensified after a Hartford-based nonprofit closed its summer/fall energy assistance program one month early due to high demand. With projected federal heating assistance projected to drop as much as $970 per household this winter—and with home heating oil prices rising steadily since mid-June—advocates say things could turn ugly this winter unless state officials end their reluctance to use state funds.”

No hydrogen hub for CT and the Northeast:
CT Mirror. “Connecticut and the Northeast came up losers Friday in the high-stakes competition for regional hydrogen hubs—part of the Biden administration’s Bipartisan Infra-structure Law’s focus on hydrogen as an important clean energy source to fight climate change. A seven-state consortium of Connecticut and the rest of New England, except New Hampshire, plus New York and New Jersey, were not among seven hubs selected to share $7 billion … Among the hubs selected were several in swing presidential race states as well as ones with difficult senate races for Democrats looking to maintain control, including West Virginia and Montana. And many of them are in heavy fossil fuel-producing areas that face potential negative economic impacts as the country transitions towards clean energy.”

Blumenthal urges increased LIHEAP funding as CT families face chilly winter:
CT News Junkie. “The winter heating season has already started, Operation Fuel has stopped taking applications, and Congress level funded the Low Income Heating and Energy Assistance Program… ‘Applications for heating assistance are up by about 20%,’ Blumenthal said. However, the funding is still only about $4 billion nationwide. … Operation Fuel’s Gannon Long said, ‘the affordability gap between what people can pay for their energy needs and what they’re being asked to pay has increased 37% in just two years.’ … Last year, the nonprofit approved around 3,900 applications during its Summer/Fall application period. Two years ago, the program received only around 2,000 applications during that same period.”

Evergrow completes first IRA tax credit transfer through solar project in Connecticut:
Solar World. “Evergrow, a clean energy finance company, has successfully completed the funding of a clean energy tax credit transfer on its platform, the first of its kind to be announced … Under the IRA, developers and owners of clean energy projects can sell their tax credits to raise funding. With demand for clean energy tax financing expected to exceed $80 billion by 2031, this funding helps pay for the cost of building clean energy projects, such as solar power, battery storage, electric vehicle chargers and more … Developers of clean energy projects often struggle to access tax credit funding, particularly for projects on the smaller end of the scale. By using technology to build a modern platform for clean energy finance, Evergrow is unlocking greater access to funding for developers of all sizes.”

For a complete listing of clean energy events, visit the on-line Calendar: www.pacecleanenergy.org/calendar. You can submit an event to the PACE Calendar and also subscribe to it.

WATT ELSE?
Updates to Furnace Efficiency Standards for First Time in 16 Years:
Last updated in 2007, the U.S. Department of Energy has announced final rules for residential gas furnaces to go into effect in late 2028. Non-weatherized gas furnaces and those used in mobile homes will require 95% efficiency. Read more: https://www.utilitydive.com/news/doe-finalizes-gas-furnace-efficiency-rule/695330.

Rules for electric vehicle instant rebates at dealerships are here:
Treasury lays out rules for instant EV rebate – E&E News by POLITICO (eenews.net). Starting Jan. 1, 2024, EV buyers can transfer their Inflation Reduction Act electric vehicle credits to dealerships and receive cash or apply the credit toward the cost of the car. The IRA provides a tax credit of up to $7,500 for certain electric vehicles and used EVs are eligible for a $4,000 credit.

Outrageously High GAS RATE HIKES Proposed by CNG and SCG

by Kathleen Fay, Neighborhood Housing Services

Please see the email below from Thomas Wiehl. Then,

  • Respond directly to Tom if you would like to be part of the discussion.
  • Share widely to members of your task forces and other networks including other municipal staff.
  • Consider drafting letters for your group to sign onto and submit to the media and/or to Office of Consumer Council or Public Utilities Regulatory Authority (PURA). Or individual letters.
  • If you or your organization wish to be interveners in the PURA docket, please note the deadline for filing is Nov. 15.

For additional details or support: Kathleen Fay, Director of Community Sustainability, Neighborhood Housing Services, 203-562-0598, Ext. 225, www.nhsofnewhaven.org, 333 Sherman Ave, New Haven.

Hello all,

 

CT Natural Gas and Southern CT Gas have filed their notices of intent in their pending rate cases, seeking ten percent and TWENTY PERCENT increases to delivery revenues, respectively. You can see the notices here: www.dpuc.state.ct.us/dockcurr.nsf/8e6fc37a54110e3e852576190052b64d/f65a98e3aa41173585258a390072492d?OpenDocument

OCC will be directly engaging in this proceedings and would certainly welcome collaborative discussions with anyone with an interest in critically analyzing these upcom-ing rate applications. Contact: Thomas Wiehl, Director of Utility Oversight & Regulatory Reform, State of CT, Office of Consumer Counsel, 860-827-2906, [email protected], www.ct.gov/occ.

CT Green Energy News

Number 340, Sept. 15, 2023

News and events for advocates of clean energy, energy efficiency, and climate action at the state and local levels, focusing on Connecticut. Brought to you by People’s Action for Clean Energy (PACE). For more information, visit www.pacecleanenergy.org.

Lawmakers: What’s the hullabaloo on electric rates and what does it mean for you?

Hartford Courant. Many folks have been watching with rapt attention as a Connecticut public utility company and its surrogates tried to undermine the current electric rate case, suggesting it is “punitive,” “an overreach,” or “lacking constitutionality.”…We would argue that for decades utility companies have benefited from opacity caused by the complexity of ratemaking…Throughout the recent conversation, pundits have tried to impugn the credibility or competence of Public Utility Regulatory Authority leadership, with surrogates suggesting, without citation, that PURA is the worst-ranked regulatory authority in the nation. But – worse for whom? Certainly not the ratepayers. …As pundits, surrogates, and talking heads try to suggest that what is happening under PURA in current pending dockets will have negative effects, we’re reading something different between those lines. They are scared. Scared of lost profits. Scared of accountability. And scared of what this ruling’s success will mean not if, but when, it is replicated nationally.”

Highlights from CT Green Energy News, May, 2023

Newsletter about clean energy, energy efficiency, and climate action, focusing on Connecticut. To subscribe, send an email to [email protected]. To find out more about People’s Action for Clean Energy (PACE), go to www.pacecleanenergy.org.

Mix of progress and lags in CT environmental goals, report shows, Connecticut Public.
​A new report assessing the state of Connecticut’s environment says solar installations rose in 2022, which is helping to lower carbon emissions. But the report found those same solar installations are also complicating some efforts to conserve agricultural land.

Southern Connecticut State University completes $52.4M first CT-owned, net zero building, New Haven Register.
​Southern Connecticut State University is in the final construction stage of its $52.4 million new building, ready for the faculty to move in [soon]. The four-story, 64,000-square-foot School of Business will use a 500-foot-deep geothermal system for air conditioning and green power.

Coventry farm begins producing electricity from biogas, Hartford Business Journal.
​A ​new biogas facility in Coventry has been commissioned to begin producing renewable electricity. The facility at Hytone Farm converts dairy manure and food waste into power using an anaerobic digester. The project is expected to produce up to 4.4 million kWh per year. Ag-Grid, based in Kennett Square, PA, develops and operates small-scale renewable electricity projects and has five projects in Connecticut and Massachusetts.

Enko Chem begins clean-energy project projected to save $10M over 20 years, Hartford Business Journal.
​​​An agricultural company in Mystic that develops products for farmers to protect their crops from pests and diseases has begun a clean-energy project that is expected to save more than $10 million over 20 years. Enko Chem Inc. is installing energy-efficient lighting on two floors of the interior office, lab and greenhouse of its facility on Maritime Drive. The projected energy savings includes utility incentives, tax credits and operational energy savings. The energy efficiency project is financed with a long-term, fixed-rate C-PACE loan totaling $3.6 million. C-PACE is administered by the Connecticut Green Bank.

Connecticut, other northeastern states will seek over $1 billion in federal funding for hydrogen fuel projects. CT Insider.
​Connecticut will join six other northeastern states in competing for over $1 billion in federal funding to create a regional “hub” for clean hydrogen fuel, Gov. Ned Lamont announced last week…Many environmental advocates have expressed skepticism about turning toward hydrogen as a way of combating climate change and lowering traditional emissions.​..The Northeast Regional Clean Hydrogen Hub will focus its efforts on other, cleaner methods of producing hydrogen fuel, such as water electrolysis that can be powered by solar and wind turbines.

News from Citizen’s Oil Co-op

by Adrian Hutson, Citizen’s Oil Co-op

Citizen’s Oil Co-op is a buyers’ club that has negotiated extremely competitive pricing for its members throughout Connecticut and Rhode Island for home heating oil and propane. We work with several full service companies and our pricing is typically 50-60 cents cheaper per gallon than the state average. We find that our average member can save $200-$600 annually on their home heating costs.

It is easy to join, just call our office or sign up online. We then connect you with a participating company in your town. That company contacts you directly to set up your account under the contracted Co-op pricing. With the price of oil on the rise we advocate on behalf of our members for negotiated fair pricing without the hassle of shopping around every time you need a delivery.

We also offer additional services and benefits to being a member of the Co-op such as a waived tank rental fee for propane customers. We have partnered with Trinity Solar to offer our members free consultations for solar panels and renewable electricity. We work with Bearing Star insurance to offer members free insurance quotes. Members can also get set up for a home energy audit through our partnership with New England Smart Energy. We are a one-stop shop where our members can get more information about their home energy and some of the most competitive pricing in the state for full service heating oil and propane.

We are also active in community partnerships and have a program called The Next Step. The Next Step is a platform where any community organization or nonprofit can inform their membership about the Co-op and for every person that signs up, we will donate $10 back to that organization. Through community partnerships we can pass on additional savings and support our local organizations.

For additional information on becoming a member, getting your organization involved in The Next Step, or about any of our other additional services, call 860-561-6011 or visit our website at oilco-op.com.

Saving More. Together.

Highlights from CT Green Energy News, Feb. 17, 2023

Newsletter about clean energy, energy efficiency, and climate action, focusing on Connecticut. To subscribe, send an email to [email protected]. To find out more about People’s Action for Clean Energy (PACE), go to www.pacecleanenergy.org.

CT legislators vow harder look at utilities, and a regulator applauds

CT Mirror. “Frustrations over Connecticut’s high cost of electricity and concerns over its ability to adequately regu-late Eversource, the state’s largest distributor of electricity, are fueling a bipartisan effort to revise the complex rules of utility regulation for the second time in three years… Eversource officials sat stone-faced as [PURA Chairman Marissa] Gillett recently told lawmakers that a $103 million settlement the company negotiated with the Lamont administration in 2021, which was hailed by the governor who hired her, was instead another missed opportunity to examine Connecticut’s largest utility…“The fact that I’m going into my fourth year or fifth year here before you and have not seen a rate case from our largest utility in the state is a travesty. I honestly believe that,” Gillett told lawmakers.”

Gov. Lamont wants more CT options to buy power: ‘A clear public need’

CT Insider. “Connecticut is considering more alternatives to obtain power independent of the market exchange created during the deregulation of the electric industry a quarter century ago, amid continuing frustration with high rates this winter… [T]he Connecticut General Assembly’s Environment Committee will examine the state’s alternatives… Under the bill, the Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection would be able to “issue multiple solicitations for long-term contracts from providers of resources,” sidestepping the central market for electricity overseen by ISO New England, the region’s independent system operator based in Holyoke, Mass… The Connecticut bill would allow DEEP to consider a broader range of factors in making any independent purchase of power, to include whether adequate amounts of natural gas are available for the generation of electricity; reducing pollution; and infrastructure costs.”

New Haven Tenants and Landlords Needed for Research Study on Energy Costs

Yale University researchers, in partnership with Neighborhood Housing Services of New Haven, are conducting interviews with New Haven tenants and landlords about their experiences with energy costs and energy efficiency programs, and about how they may work together to have energy efficiency upgrades to their homes.

Each interview participant will receive a gift card of $50. If you have any questions, please call or text 203-868-0137.

Researchers want to hear from New Haven tenants and landlords about:

Electricity and Heating Bills Assistance Available

Residents, advocacy groups, environmental organizations, and even some politicians are outraged over the massive increase of the prices of electricity, gas and oil.

Here are links for programs that can help lower the bills for a large number of greater New Haven-area residents:

https://drive.google.com/file/d/1Ok4oU80L6KyhUKyq1v-u2hFgsabrSN5h/view

https://drive.google.com/file/d/1eKfhdNH9LJjw3m70akTri7yZP6L8ZIG7/view (Spanish)

https://drive.google.com/file/d/1EUkiJ6YNtytnXZW8tEG9AKZImP75kCpZ/view

https://drive.google.com/file/d/1PB8vrmbnGEqy0cQhCmvCbip-g8jyjn8L/view

CT Green Energy News, Jan. 20, 2023

E-newsletter about clean energy, energy efficiency, and climate action, focusing on Connecticut. To subscribe, send an email to [email protected]. To find out more about People’s Action for Clean Energy, go to www.pacecleanenergy.org.

Connecticut homeowner associations can no longer block solar installations

Energy News Network. The provision was added to the 35-page Connecticut Clean Air Act before it was approved by lawmakers last session,” session. Associations may still adopt rules on the size and placement of solar installations.​..​ “This is one of the best-kept secrets from the past legislative session,” said Mark Scully, president of People’s Action for Clean Energy, or PACE.​..​ Condominiums are exempt from the rooftop solar provision.​..​ As written, the law only impacts a small subset of households, probably under 1,000, according to Kim McClain, executive director of the state Community Associations Institute.

Future CT electric rate increases would be left to legislature under new proposal

CT Insider. ​Representative Christine Conley introduced House Bill 5013 last week. The proposed legislation, if it became law, would give both chambers of the state’s General Assembly the opportunity to vote on any electric or natural gas rate increases approved by Connecticut’s Public Utilities Regulatory Authority… Claire Coleman is Connecticut’s Consumer Counsel and she said Friday she “would caution against adding yet another hurdle in the rate-setting process such as a legislative stamp of approval… I appreciate that the legislature is eager to find solutions for the high price of energy, and I stand eager to work with members on both sides of the aisle,” Coleman said. “Given the stringent process required by the Constitution for setting rates, and the detailed factual and technical record needed in order to meet those standards, the Public Utilities Regulatory Authority is best suited to set rates for electric and natural gas companies.”

Branford, East Haven Collaborating to Offer Residents Energy Efficiency Programs

Zip 06. In 2023 Branford and East Haven will work together on HeatSmart. They are applying for Energize Connecticut Community Partnership Initiative funding. HeatSmart will reach out to all Branford and East Haven residents, with special emphasis on Income Eligible residents who struggle with utility bills and often live in energy-inefficient dwellings.

Republicans Outline Proposals to Reduce Energy Costs

CT News Junkie. ​House and Senate Republicans called Tuesday for state government to pick up the tab for more than a dozen energy charges and fees normally paid by rate-payers as part of a package of proposals aimed at reducing the cost of electricity in Connecticut…An element of their plan involved sparing ratepayers an estimated $362 million per year by shifting cost of expenses like supply and delivery fees onto the state budget. Based on 2020 energy costs, the change would save the average Connecticut household around $210 per year, they said. “The reality is that government is deeply entrenched in energy and is a partner in energy. There are many costs embedded into our bills that are policies that lawmakers have passed. Some of them are laudable but they are all paid for by the rate payers.”

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