by Melinda Tuhus, climate justice activist
Climate activists around the state are prioritizing a bill (SB 718) in this year’s General Assembly session that would create a moratorium on fossil fuel power plant construction, with an eye specifically to stopping a fracked gas power plant to be built in Killingly, which is nearing final approval by the CT Department of Energy and Environmental Protection.
In a conversation with climate activists on Feb. 17, the bill’s sponsor, Sen. Christine Cohen, said she was frustrated that, despite a full-court press by those advocates to get a public hearing on the bill in the Energy & Technology Committee, that didn’t happen. She said it might still happen through another bill or possibly by creating some studies to enable the state to take action to stop Killingly, for which the owners of the plant, NTE, have signed a contract with ISO-New England, the regional grid operator. Gov. Ned Lamont says he doesn’t want the plant but that he is stuck with this agreement forged by his predecessor, Dannel Malloy, who was a huge proponent of gas. ISO-NE, on the other hand, says that states always have the final say on siting energy infrastructure.
There are many reasons why the plant shouldn’t be built. Connecticut’s Global Warming Solutions Act, in line with the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change science, requires that greenhouse gas emissions in our state must be reduced below 2001 levels by 45% by 2030, and 80% by 2050. To achieve these mandated reductions, Connecticut must stop building new fossil fuel infrastructure, including power plants and pipelines.
Connecticut doesn’t need more dirty energy. Analysis from EIA (US Energy Information Agency) shows Connecticut has been a net energy exporter for a decade.1 Analysis by Synapse Energy shows that a significant surplus of electric capacity exists, and is projected to exist, in New England.2 And DEEP’s Draft Integrated Resources Plan (IRP) says that “Connecticut now hosts a disproportionate share of the region’s fossil-fueled generation”3
To meet our climate goals, including Governor Lamont’s Executive Order 3 calling for 100% carbon-free electricity by 2040, we must build clean energy capacity while retiring dirty energy, not building more dirty power. Acadia Center calculated that by 2030 Connecticut and New England would experience a net gain in employment under a No New Gas scenario.4
Finally, fossil fuel generation causes poor air quality and inequitable health outcomes, as these facilities are most often placed in low-income and/or people of color neighborhoods. Killingly ranks well below the state average in income and already has an operating fracked gas power plant.
Take action! Contact the co-chairs of the Energy & Technology Committee and urge them to incorporate the basics of SB 718 in another bill so it has a chance to be voted on. That’s Sen. Norm Needleman (firstname.lastname@example.org) and Rep. David Arconti (email@example.com).