PURA Establishes Low-Income Utility Rate

Julie Martin Banks, CT News Junkie, Oct. 19, 2022

The Public Utilities Regulatory Authority today established a two-tiered discount rate to help provide relief for low-income Connecticut residents who have trouble affording electricity. PURA Vice Chairman Jack Betkoski said the decision was a momentous one that will help ease the pain for Connecticut families who are currently facing a variety of rising costs.

“I think this is a step toward assisting those individuals that are having difficulty quite frankly putting food on the table,” Betkoski said. The final decision unanimously adopted by the three-member commission requires Eversource and United Illuminating to each implement a discount rate with an overall eligibility cap at 60% of the state median income (Tier 1), and eligibility for Tier 2 aligned with existing state benefit programs (up to 160% federal poverty guidelines).

PURA has determined that those who qualify for Tier 1 will receive a 10% discount applied to their monthly bill, while those who fall into Tier 2 will receive a 50% discount to their total monthly bill, according to the decision.

Those who qualify will be able to participate in existing energy assistance, arrearage forgiveness, renewable energy, and energy efficiency programs, the decision states.

The companies will start accepting applications by August 2023 and will be required to create a communications plan to notify and educate eligible residential customers. PURA will re-evaluate the discounted rates every two years as part of its annual energy affordability review process. The first review of the discounted rates will be conducted in 2025.

PURA Chairwoman Marissa P. Gillett […] said the decision is a reflection of PURA digging into the topic of affordability and its recognition of the societal impacts of losing electricity.

It’s also a move to reduce uncollectibles – collecting outstanding amounts from delinquent accounts. “The goal of minimizing uncollectibles is one that helps us all,” she said.

[Read the entire article at ctnewsjunkie.com/2022/10/19/pura-decision-establishes-low-income-rate]

Do You Struggle to Pay Your Monthly Heat and Electricity Bills?

by Annie Harper, Program for Recovery and Community Health, Department of Psychiatry, Yale School of Medicine

We are recruiting people living in New Haven to participate in focus groups. During the focus groups, we will ask them about their experiences with energy bills and energy efficiency upgrades. We plan to hold 6-8 focus groups with tenants, and 1 or 2 focus groups with landlords. We will pay people $50 for their time.

With the links below you will be able to enter your information on a form and someone will get back to you (the forms are in both Spanish and English). You can also call 203-868-0137.

tenants:  https://forms.gle/dw841ntBwjNJaCsw9

landlords:  https://forms.gle/Hf4WsWkketvccJf7A

 

Public Utilities Regulatory Authority 101 Zoom call — Jan. 18, 2022

Tuesday, January 18, 2022 12:30 PM

Beyond paying our monthly utility bill, many of us don’t pay much attention to who oversees public  utilities, how rates are determined, or how decisions about energy sources are made. Navigating the world of public utilities can feel technical and confusing — but it doesn’t have to!

The Public Utilities Regulatory Authority (PURA) has regulatory oversight of public utilities in Connecticut, including electric, natural gas, and water.

Join PURA Chair Marissa Gillett as we pull back the curtain on utility regulation and empower you with knowledge to engage. Register here or visit https://tinyurl.com/pura101.

News from the Green Party of Connecticut

Ronna Stuller, secretary, Green Party of CT

As a unity of local chapters throughout the state, the Green Party of Connecticut is committed to the Four Pillars of all Green Parties worldwide: grassroots democracy, social justice, non-violence and ecological wisdom. In order to empower the political voice of the people – not corporate interests or their lobbyists – Green Party candidates accept contributions only from individuals, not from PACs. This year’s election we are running over a dozen candidates in municipal elections all across Connecticut.

Justin Paglino MD, Ph.D., of Guilford, was our 2020 nominee for the U.S. House of Representatives in the third Congressional District. He has continued, on the local and national front, to advocate for a nonprofit healthcare system that serves everyone, as well as reforms that would strengthen our democracy, repair our environment, and invest in a peaceful future.

We invite readers to learn more about our organization at www.ctgreenparty.org or www.facebook.com/GreenPartyofConnecticut.  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

I am running again for the U.S. House of Representatives, for the seat currently held by Rep. Rosa DeLauro, and I anticipate that my name will be on the ballot in November 2022. I intend to once again seek the nomination of the Green Party of Connecticut.

The factors that spurred my initial decision to run for this office are unchanged. Our national healthcare system still makes healthcare unaffordable for vast swaths of Americans. Unlike Rep. DeLauro, I support single-payer Medicare for All, the reform that would save $500 billion dollars and 70,000 lives each year. Recently New Haven passed a resolution declaring its support for Medicare for All, yet our representative in Congress is still not a cosponsor.

Our national energy policy is still completely inadequate to address the severe threat of climate change. Unlike Rep. DeLauro, I support the carbon tax and dividend policy we need to finally put a real limiting force on our untamed carbon emissions, while making the transition to sustainable energy affordable for all. Our nation still grotesquely over-spends on the military budget, and the City of New Haven recently passed a resolution declaring this to be the case. Unlike Rep. DeLauro, who voted against a 10% cut to the Pentagon budget, I support a 50% budget cut, with just transition programs in place to keep defense industry employees employed. We are in more need of windmill blades at this time than helicopter blades, but the skill sets to make these do overlap significantly.

Our nation’s runaway economic inequality continues to hurt. Although I give credit to Rep. DeLauro for fighting for the child tax credit, I would go further and call for a Federal Jobs guarantee and Universal Basic Income, as more progressive members of Congress have already done and Rep. DeLauro has not.

Our nation’s politics are deeply corrupted by corporate interests. Unlike Rep. DeLauro I accept no special interest money, only funding from individuals. Our two-party system discourages voters from voting their values, but I encourage voters to do exactly that, because if you don’t vote for something, you’ll never get it. Unlike Rep. DeLauro, I support Ranked Choice Voting, a reform that eliminates the spoiler effect and thus will allow multiparty democracy to flourish.

Please visit my website at justin4all.org to sign up for my newsletter, or to contribute to this campaign for healthcare, climate, peace, economic justice, and uncorrupted multi-party democracy.

Thank you.

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.

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