Important Information to Prevent Electricity Shut-Offs

[There are programs for people caught in the economic devastation of the COVID pandemic, but they’re not well-publicized. The utility companies have not consistently been informing customers who can’t pay their bills. The following excerpt, from the article, Dear Conn. Electric Customer: Know Your Rights, written by Susan Campbell, was printed in the April 4, 2021, New Haven Register.]

Dear Connecticut electric company customer:

During this difficult time, you are absolutely protected from having your power shut off. You can take advantage of multiple payment programs that can help you pay your bills, should you fall behind.

All Connecticut utility customers whose income is less than 60% of the state median income are eligible for affordable payment plans. Under many of these plans, if you pay your average monthly bill, the back bill can be wiped out. If you get disability, medical or other help from the state, you may be eligible for an affordable $50-per-month plan for a heat bill. Even when we aren’t in the middle of COVID, service cannot be turned off between Nov. 1 and May 1.

In addition, last April PURA announced a COVID-19 payment program for everyone. Even if you make too much money to qualify for a low-income-based program, you can still take advantage of the COVID payment plan, where your back bill is divided into 24 payments. The program was an acknowledgment that no matter a household income, people could be adversely affected with pandemic shut-downs or slowdowns.

You, the customer, are not supposed to have to ask about specific programs when you call a utility company, but customer service representatives have proven notoriously bad at sharing this information, so feel free to mention the COVID and hardship plan by name. If the representative declines to agree with you about a plan, ask to speak to a supervisor. If the supervisor is similarly hesitant, ask for a company review officer. If you still get nowhere, call PURA at (800) 382-4586. They can be extremely helpful.

PACE to Hire Full-Time Staff Person

by Mark Scully, President of PACE

People’s Action for Clean Energy (PACE) will hire its first full-time staff person, as described below. If interested, please apply. For questions about the position, contact Bernie Pelletier (bernard.pelletier@comcast.net).

People’s Action for Clean Energy Program Manager

Position Description: Position Overview

The Program Manager will assume operational responsibility for several of its initiatives. This position will work closely with the officers of PACE and oversee interns and volunteers to direct the implementation of a range of programs, including: 100PercentCT, working with towns to assist their transition to clean energy; HeatSmartCT, a campaign to promote education and adoption of heat pumps; continued development of the PACE Energy Model; creation of a new PACE Clean Energy Dashboard on the PACE website; and Solar Canopies Project, helping towns and the state realize the potential of this resource.

Qualifications

The ideal candidate will be an excellent leader and will have experience in managing staff of different disciplines to produce results in a timely manner. Applicant must be self-driven, possess strong organizational skills and be capable of working independently, seeking guidance when needed. The candidate must demonstrate strong interest in advancing clean energy and a desire to work on concrete solutions based on data analysis. Good verbal skills as well as the ability to write with clarity and brevity are essential. The ability to work and communicate remotely via Zoom and other applications is a necessity due to the pandemic.

People’s Action for Clean Energy (PACE) is a non-profit engaged in promoting the transition to clean energy. For more information about PACE, visit its website at www.pacecleanenergy.org or phone (917) 843-7214.

Interested applicants should send their resumes to PACE4CT@gmail.com.

PACE, PO Box 134, West Simsbury, CT 06092

New Haven Climate Movement Activities

by Chris Schweitzer, New Haven Climate Movement

Rock to Rock Earth Day Ride 2021: We’re excited to share that Rock to Rock is moving ahead for this spring. We are already working with over 15 partner organizations to take real action in response to the climate emergency and raise critical support for local environmental organizations while respecting public health guidance. Register now at https://www.rocktorock.org.

Sign petition to support New Haven Climate Justice and Green Jobs Fund of $1.1 million that would go annually to staff and other expenses related to clean energy jobs creation, energy efficiency, outreach/education/programs (to save families money and create jobs), increased climate education, and transportation improvement (to reduce air pollution and help people get to work/school). https://www.newhavenclimatemovement.org/climate-justice-gj-fund.

Connecticut Green Energy News No. 206, Feb. 19, 2012

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) and Eastern CT Green Action (ECGA). To subscribe, contact Peter Millman at peter.millman7@gmail.com.

More information is at https://www.pacecleanenergy.org

Five takeaways from Connecticut’s new residential solar program changes

Energy News Network. “After years of debate over reforming the state’s solar program, stakeholders widely praised the new rules released last week. Connecticut utility regulators have reconfigured the state’s residential solar program in an effort to ensure its growth and drive innovation.” Plus: PURA Establishes New Residential Renewable Energy Program (FAQs from PURA)

Could rolling blackouts happen in New England?

NHPR. “I think the biggest single issue is that winter is normal in New Hampshire and across the Northeast. We are used to seeing these types of intense winter storms and multiple low-degree days. The problem in Texas is, that’s not normal there. This is a once-in-fifty, one-in-one-hundred-years type of event. And given that, the overall energy infrastructure system has not been developed and constructed with this type of severe weather in mind.”

Amid unprecedented storm damage, Eversource’s 2020 profits rise to $1.21B

Hartford Business Journal. “Eversource said a lower effec-tive tax rate also benefited its fourth-quarter bottom line.”

Lamont defends environmental, transportation agenda

CT News Junkie. “Lamont dismissed as “nonsense” the idea that drivers and truckers may avoid Connecticut roadways in an effort to avoid new user fees or high gas prices. He said drivers would need to travel through states with even higher fees to avoid Connecticut. You’re paying for that the whole way up the East Coast, it’s only when you get to Connecticut that everybody gets a free ride except for the poor taxpayers of our state,” he said.” Plus: Connecticut Gov. Lamont unveils environmental priorities amid dispute over impact on gasoline prices

As Boston gets on board, community power compacts gain steam

22 News WWLP.com. “…the program is part of the city’s commitment to environmental justice and one of its goals is to make renewable energy more accessible to residents who are socially vulnerable and have likely been disproportionately impacted by climate change…With a lot of aggregation programs we’re seeing them go five percentage points, 10 percentage points, much higher beyond that standard to procure more green electricity for their consumers. And that’s, from a local level, probably one of the most if not the most impactful ways to reduce emissions if you’re trying to meet climate goals.”

March 5, 6 and 13 NOFA 2021 Connecticut and Rhode Island Winter Conference

This year the Northeast Organic Farming Association is offering over 25 food and farming workshops (March 6 & 13), a keynote address by Karen Washington of Rise and Root Farm (March 5), the 3rd Annual Bill Duesing Organic Living on the Earth Award, a virtual silent auction with prizes including private horse riding lessons, a rustic beach getaway on Block Island – and much more!

Workshop offerings include: Intensify, Diversify, Perennialize: How to Profitably Incorporate Perennial Crops with Connor Stedman; Goat Ownership and Management 101 with Grace Toy; Domestic Seaweed Supply Chains: Opportunities and Challenges with Dawn Kotowicz and Sam Garwin; Emergency Ag Preparedness for Farmers with Joan Nichols; How to Begin Growing Organic in Urban Spaces: A Success Story with Emmanuel Marte and Josephine Joiner; Organic Disease Control with Yonghao Li; Building Soil Carbon for our Gardens/Farms, Health, and World with Julie Rawson & Jack Kittredge; Compost Production Virtual Tour: High-Quality Compost with Jayne Senecal; And many more!

https://newmilfordfarmlandpres.org/ct-nofa-2021-winter-conference-march-56-and-13

Community Sustainability/ Free Organic Vegetable Gardening Virtual Workshops

by Tebben Lopez, Neighborhood Housing Services

Considering the circumstances we are in and the exacerbated concerns around food security, we are offering this year’s classes free of charge for everyone. The series will be virtual to ensure everyone’s safety.

Are you or a loved one a gardener who can’t wait for the ground to thaw? Prepare for Spring with our 6-class organic vegetable gardening series taught by Advanced Certified Master Gardener Rachel Ziesk! All classes are virtual and take place on Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 12 p.m.

February 6: Soils and Composting – The most important component for a successful garden is soil health. Learn how to make your own compost and everything else you need to keep your soil healthy for the most productive garden.

February 13: Garden Planning & Season Extenders – Ensure a long and productive growing year with row covers, organic mulch, cold frames and more! Get the most out of even a small garden space.

February 20: Cool Weather Crops – Start your garden as soon as the soil thaws, even in mid-March! This class covers how and when to plant cool weather crops and manage their pests and diseases.

February 27: Warm Weather Crops – Learn how to make the best of our growing season including which warm-weather crops are best started indoors, which can be direct-seeded, what conditions and fertilizers each crop prefers, and how to fight their pests and diseases organically.

March 6: Seed Starting – Start your own seedlings! Learn about when to start indoor seedlings, watering, using lights, and dealing with common problems. We will also review which crops can be planted directly outdoors and when.

March 13: Weeds: the Good, the Bad, and the Tasty – Some “weeds” are actually native wildflowers benefitting your vegetable garden’s pollinators. Some are invasive horrors with plans to take over your garden. And some are edible, delicious little morsels that can be harvested and enjoyed.
For more information, please contact Kathy Fay, (203) 562-0598 ext. 225, kfay@nhsofnewhaven.org.

Students Rally For Green Jobs, Climate Justice

Courtney Luciana, NH Independent, Dec. 16, 2020

High school climate-change activists called on the city Wednesday afternoon to create a $1 million New Haven Climate Justice and Green Jobs Fund.

Courtney Luciana Photo
Climate Health Education Project (CHEP) high school interns.

The activists, interns with the Climate Health Education Project (CHEP), made that call in a press event held on the steps of the Elm Street courthouse.

The fund would hire staffers for clean-energy jobs, energy-efficiency education campaigns, “support neighborhood resiliency and greening programs,” and “fund increased climate justice education.”

“Connecticut is already being affected by climate change. The sea level in Connecticut is rising and the storms are becoming more severe,” Hopkins School sophomore Natalie Card (at right in above photo) said at the rally. “Extremely heavy storms have increased sea level by 70 percent since 1958 and will continue to keep rising.”

Students at the rally read aloud both personal and online posts from all around the world about climate change.

Read the whole article at https://www.newhavenindependent.org/index.php/archives/entry/sstudent_climate_change_rally

Energy Efficiency Program for Branford Residents

In collaboration with People’s Action for Clean Energy, Branford’s Clean Energy Committee is offering a home improvement package with the goals of saving money for homeowners and improving the environment. The first step is a Home Energy Solutions (HES) audit to evaluate energy efficiency and recommend improvements to save energy. The audit is free until the end of 2020. Branford’s preferred HES providers are CMC [(203) 294-9677, CMCenergy.com] and NECS [(877) 389-7077, neconserves.com].

CT Green Energy News — (11/20/20-Issue 193)

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) and Eastern CT Green Action (ECGA).

New Study Shows Methane Leaks Prevalent In Connecticut Cities
WNPR. “We drill wells. We hydraulically fracture the wells. We pull the gas up. We process the gas. We store it. We then put it in high- transmission pipelines,” Howarth said. “We finally get toward cities and suburbs, where we put it into lower-pressure transmission pipelines, and the fact is, that methane is emitted at each and every one of those steps.”

Connecticut’s first dairy biogas project almost complete
Bioenergy Insight. “The new facility at Fort Hill Farms in Thompson will recycle food waste and manure into renewable energy and soil products. Once complete, the digester is expected to produce 550 kW of electricity and reduce 25,000 tons of organic waste annually.”

State approves 75-acre solar energy facility in Waterford
The Day. “The [Siting] council ruled that the project would not have a “substantial adverse environmental effect” and would not create unreasonable pollution or impair natural resources…[Save the River, Save the Hills] disagreed, citing the possible negative effects to local trout from clear-cutting the land. ‘We feel that the final stormwater mitigation plan is still inadequate to capture the runoff from 75 acres of clear-cut land.'”

Hotels Lag in Energy Sustainability. One Project May Change That.
New York Times. “The hotel industry has fallen behind other real estate sectors in adopting energy-efficiency measures, but a Connecticut developer hopes to change that by converting a [New Haven] office building into what could be the most energy-efficient hotel in the country.”

Please send us links to Connecticut clean energy stories and share the newsletter with others! E-mail peter.millman7@gmail.com to be on our mailing list.

Opinion: Vote “Yes” to Move Military Money to New Haven

Kim Stoner, NH Independent, Oct. 20, 2020

I mailed my absentee ballot today, and I almost missed it. I was so focused on the people I wanted to vote for—and certain people I wanted to vote against—that I almost missed the block of text on the right-hand side of the ballot:

“Shall Congress prepare for health and climate crises by transferring funds from the military budget to cities for human needs, jobs and an environmentally sustainable economy?”

Fortunately, I noticed it as I was folding my ballot to stuff it inside the inner envelope, stopped, and energetically marked the oval for “Yes!” I testified to the Board of Alders last June, asking them to put this on the ballot, and they unanimously agreed. I am a scientist, so I like facts. My testimony to the alders was a compilation of facts:

  • Direct military spending in the fiscal year ending in September 2020 will amount to $746 billion — more than $2 billion per day, more than $1 million per minute.
  • The U.S. military is the largest institutional consumer of fossil fuels in the world. Since the beginning of the “War on Terror” in 2001, the U.S. military has emitted 1.2 billion metric tons of greenhouse gases. This is more than double the annual greenhouse gas emissions of all the automobiles in the U.S.
  • Green manufacturing—the kind of work that would employ the technical skills used in defense manufacturing in Connecticut—creates 28 percent more jobs per dollar spent than defense spending.
  • Retrofitting buildings for energy efficiency —work we desperately need to do in New Haven, with our older and less energy efficient buildings—would create twice as many jobs per dollar spent as defense spending, and would immediately benefit the people of New Haven in reducing our energy bills and improving our health and comfort.
  • Our endless wars all over the world since 2001 have killed over 800,000 people and have not added to the peace or security of our country.

Why do we have such a huge military—bigger than those of the next 10 countries combined? The events of the last six months have shown that our status as a military superpower cannot keep us in New Haven safe from disease, from economic collapse, from gun violence, and from our divisions along racial and economic lines. Neither can it protect our country from the wildfires, floods, and hurricanes that seem never to end—and that are only a foretaste of the climate disasters to come.

We can’t solve our most pressing problems here in the city of New Haven, in the state, in the country, or in the world through military domination. COVID-19 is a global problem. The solution will ultimately be a global solution. We need to do everything we can locally to prevent the spread, to support the vulnerable and to prepare for fair and rapid mobilization when vaccines and treatments become available. In the meantime, the solutions lie in cooperation, not domination.

Climate change is also a global problem. We are way behind in grappling with the complexities and the will to implement global solutions, so just as with COVID-19, we need to do everything we can locally to make sure that those most vulnerable have the resources they need to adapt to the heat, the flooding, the increases in disease and the massive economic shifts that we know are coming. We also need to radically change our city in cooperation with the state and the rest of the world to stop putting the gases into the air that will make climate change worse.

Shifting money from the military would provide enormous practical benefits—making money available for human health, jobs, and environmental sustainability in our city. It would also represent a paradigm change in the federal government by raising the focus on human needs, not just in response to a crisis, but in supporting the community to reduce and prevent the crises of the future. And maybe—just maybe—it could lead to more cooperation and less domination in our relationships with the rest of the world.

CT Green Energy News

Brought to you by People’s Action for Clean Energy (PACE) and Eastern CT Green Action (ECGA).

At PURA hearing, customers got their turn to criticize Eversource and UI over outages caused by Isaias; power companies face fines. “Melvin Garelick of Trumbull said in written comments that he and his wife, who are both 75 and have chronic medical conditions, discarded food valued at $500 and were “living on bread, peanuts, peanut butter and cereal” during the outage that lasted more than three days.” Hartford Courant.

Statement from Green Party of Connecticut Candidate Justin Paglino

by Ronna Stuller, Secretary, Green Party of CT

A unity of local Green Party chapters, the Green Party of Connecticut is committed to grassroots democracy, social justice, non-violence and ecological wisdom. These are the Four Pillars of all Green parties worldwide.

Green Party candidates accept no PAC contributions, only donations from individuals. In this year’s election we are running over a dozen candidates in municipal, state, and federal elections all across Connecticut.

In this PAR article we feature a statement by Justin Paglino MD, PhD, of Guilford, who is our nominee for US House of Representatives in the Third Congressional District, the seat currently held by Rep. Rosa DeLauro. We invite readers to visit our website https://www.ctgreenparty.org to learn more about our positions and our candidates. We also invite readers to consider changing their voter registration to Green Party, and/or to consider visiting your local Green Party of Connecticut chapter to learn more and get involved. You will be most welcome.

Statement by Justin Paglino M.D. Ph.D., Green Party of CT candidate for US House of Representatives, CT-3:

This year I decided to run for US House of Representatives so that voters in my congressional district would have the option of voting for a representative who supports Medicare for All, Ranked Choice Voting, Reduced Military Spending, a bold Green New Deal with Carbon Pricing, Fracking Ban and Federal Jobs Guarantee, and other policies that my opponents in this race do not support. Many voters do, however, support these policies, and these issues need at least one candidate on the ballot who supports them, so that voters can show where they stand on these issues.

Unlike my opponents, but like most Americans, I support Medicare for All.   Single-payer healthcare will not only provide comprehensive healthcare without charge to all Americans, but will also save up to $500 billion a year thanks to efficiencies of scale and removing the profit motive from healthcare insurance.

Unlike my opponents, I am a strong advocate for Ranked Choice Voting (RCV), an electoral reform that ends two-party dominance by eliminating the spoiler effect.  RCV accomplishes this by allowing voters to rank their candidates in order of preference on the ballot. This reform exists now in Maine, where Lisa Savage is running as a Green Party candidate for US Senate; because of RCV, she will not act as a spoiler.

Unlike my opponents, I seek to rein in overblown Pentagon spending and redirect these funds towards the needs of Americans, including a Federal Jobs Guarantee. Rep. DeLauro, in contrast, this year voted YES for the $740 billion dollar Pentagon budget, and voted AGAINST a modest 10% cut (the Pocan amendment).

Unlike my opponents, I am willing to support bills that would enact the bold greenhouse gas-reducing policies that science calls for, such as HR763, the Energy Innovation and Carbon Dividend Act of 2019 (Carbon Tax and Dividend), or such as HR5857, the Ban Fracking Act. Neither bill is supported by our current representative.

I encourage PAR readers: always vote for what you want, not only against what you fear. If you want something, you have to vote for it, or you’ll never get it. There is a way out of the two-party system – it’s Ranked Choice Voting – but first you have to show you are willing to vote for it.

Please visit me at justin4all.org, e-mail me at justin@justin4all.org. Follow me on facebook/justin4all, twitter/justin4all2, insta/justinpaglino, youtube/justin4all.

And thank you to all you progressive activists!

– Justin Paglino M.D. Ph.D.

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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