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].

Update of Lawsuit about State Seizure of Energy Efficiency Funds; Millstone Tries to Pose Nuclear Energy as ‘Renewable’

by Paula Panzarella, Fight the Hike

This year, a large portion of the efficiency and clean energy funds that we pay through our electric bills was appropriated by the legislature to go into the state’s General Fund. $87.5 million was taken in 2018, and $77.5 million is scheduled to be transferred in 2019.

Many organizations, including Fight the Hike and CT Fund for the Environment (CFE), were involved in a lawsuit against the state to have the money returned. U.S District Judge Janet Hall recently filed her decision against us. The following excerpts are from CFE’s announcement on this:

  • Unfortunately, the judge just ruled that the state’s sweep of ratepayer funds did not break contracts between ratepayers and their electric companies because nobody promised ratepayers that their dollars would not be transferred to the General Fund for unrelated purposes.
  • Silly us for trusting what it says on our energy bill.
  • Now, these funds are just another hidden tax, and you’ll still breathe dirty air.
  • The loss of the lawsuit proves how difficult it is to stop lawmakers from stealing and spending millions of dollars earmarked for specific purposes on anything they want unless there are clear requirements in the law.
  • We won’t forget what happened after the raid. The legislature’s sweep of these funds destroyed more than 3,000 jobs in Connecticut, clean energy businesses have closed their doors, and energy efficiency projects across the state have been canceled.

There are plans to appeal this decision. We must let our legislators know we disagree with Judge Hall’s ruling, and demand that all the efficiency and clean energy funds be restored.

Regarding Millstone: If it weren’t tragic, it would be laughable that anyone could consider nuclear power a clean, renewable source of electricity. This is a deadly mistake. Just the excavation of uranium is enough to render it a filthy, polluting source of energy, let alone its risk of exposing millions of people to radiation.

  • A tentative ruling by state utility regulators may boost efforts by the owner of the Millstone Nuclear Power Plant to have the electricity it produces considered in ‘zero carbon’ auction that the state’s Department of Energy and Environmental Protection conducts to procure power.
  • Commissioners with Connecticut’s Public Utilities Regulatory Authority ruled that the Waterford-based power plant “is at risk of retirement.” Dominion Energy, the Virginia-based company that owns Millstone, has claimed for several years that economic conditions in the nation’s energy markets are making it difficult for the utility to keep operating the plant if it not be allowed to compete for lucrative long-term contracts that are awarded to the winners of the zero-carbon auction.
  • Joel Gordes, a West Hartford-based energy industry consultant, said PURA’s commissioners erred in their draft ruling.
  • “To treat nuclear power as if it were a renewable resource is completely inappropriate,” Gordes said. “Real renewable resources don’t produce a deadly byproduct that has to be guarded for an eternity.”

(excerpts from the on-line New Haven Register of Nov. 17, 2018, “Connecticut Utility Regulators Say Millstone Nuclear Power Plant ‘At Risk’ of Closing” by Luther Turmelle)

Tell DEEP and PURA that we will not stand for Dominion trying to redefine “clean, renewable resources.” Contact: Public Utilities Regulatory Authority, (860) 827-1553, (800) 382-4586, [email protected]. Katie Dykes, Chair of PURA, (860) 827-2805, [email protected].

Department of Energy and Environmental Protection, (860) 424-3000, [email protected]. Rob Klee, Commissioner of DEEP, (860) 424-3571, [email protected].

Connecticut Roundtable on Climate and Jobs needs your calls to the governor today

by John Humphries, Organizer

[On Oct. 26, the House of Representatives voted in favor of Dominion/Millstone. This bill now goes to Gov. Malloy. Call (800) 406-1527 and Demand that he not sign it. Call your legislators! (Find their number on this website in the sidebar.) Let them know what you think of their preferential treatment to the demands of the Dominion.]

Two current energy questions—Millstone and offshore wind —are linked, and how CT responds in the coming months will impact the state’s workers and communities, as well as the region’s electric grid, for decades to come.

Tell legislators: Protect Millstone’s workers, not its shareholders. Recently we published an op-ed that lays out a vision for resolving the ongoing “debate” about the Millstone nuclear plant with a long-term strategy to protect the plant’s workers and communities and to replace it with renewables (including offshore wind) when it does eventually retire.

Last month, the Senate passed a bill designed to give Dominion Energy (Millstone’s owner) a special deal, even though the out-of-state corporation has produced no evidence of economic hardship and has made no commitment to remaining open even if they get such a deal. The House may take up the measure in the coming week.

Tell them to REJECT any special deal for Dominion Energy that doesn’t require a long-term commitment to Millstone’s workers and communities.

Offshore Wind: Clean Energy & Jobs for CT

On September 20, more than 60 labor, religious, environmental and business leaders gathered at IBEW Local 90’s union hall to learn about the potential for local jobs and eco-nomic development from the regional push for offshore wind.

As neighboring states aggressively pursue development of offshore wind resources in federal waters off the coast of New England, CT must act quickly to catch up and secure a share of the economic benefits for our ports and coastal communities.

More than 130 people from 60+ towns across the state endorsed our statement about the need for offshore wind to be included in the Comprehensive Energy Strategy. We look forward to working with all these allies to build a broad-based offshore wind campaign in the coming months.

CT Roundtable on Climate and Jobs, ctclimateandjobs.org.