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News From

State Senator

John Fonfara

Deputy Majority Leader

Representing Hartford & Wethersfield

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Contact: Dave Steuber
860-240-8616

June 6, 2011

Major Reform to Build Connecticut’s Energy Future

Bipartisan bill to lower energy costs, create jobs and make Connecticut a national leader in clean energy

A bipartisan group of legislators voiced their support at the State Capitol today for Senate Bill 1243, An Act Concerning the Establishment of the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection and Planning for Connecticut’s Energy Future, formerly Senate Bill 1. The legislation will chart a new course in energy policy, making Connecticut a national leader in embracing clean energy, lowering energy costs, and developing energy jobs, industries and businesses.

In its major components, the legislation:

  • Creates the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (DEEP)
  • Creates the Clean Energy Finance & Investment Authority to leverage private capital for clean energy projects
  • Improves electricity contracting and procurement procedures to lower rates
  • Orders a study of electric market rules and their effect on higher rates
  • Supports zero-emission and low-emission electric generation, without picking winners amongst particular technologies
  • Establishes a one-stop-shop to proactively reach out to businesses and consult with them on available programs and reducing their energy costs

Speaking in support of the bill this afternoon were Senate President Donald E. Williams, Jr. (D-Brooklyn), House Speaker Chris Donovan (D-Meriden), Senator John Fonfara (D-Hartford) and Rep. Vickie Nardello (D-Prospect), Co-Chairs of the Energy & Technology Committee, Senator Kevin Witkos (R-Canton) and Rep. Laura Hoydick (R-Stratford) Energy Committee ranking member, and Senator Ed Meyer (D-Guilford), Chair of the Environment Committee.

“This legislation will build Connecticut’s energy future by lowering energy costs and opening up job and business opportunities across a wide spectrum of energy industries. With this bill, Connecticut becomes a national leader in energy policy, embracing clean energy as the path to success in the 21st century economy,” said Senator Williams.

"This marks a major step toward a cleaner, more efficient, and more affordable energy future for Connecticut’s families and businesses. It will help to create jobs and businesses in clean energy and energy efficiency industries, putting Connecticut at the forefront of innovation and development,” said Speaker Donovan.

“This legislation will create a full-time, dedicated energy department led by a nationally recognized expert on energy and environmental matters. It will enable us to fulfill our commitment to reduce energy costs and deliver on the promise of clean, safe and reliable energy,” said Senator Fonfara.

“We are truly taking responsibility for Connecticut’s energy future with this legislation,” said Representative Nardello. “We are clearly moving to cleaner energy, energy efficiency and renewable energy, and have successfully balanced our energy needs in a way that recognizes the impact on rate payers.”

“I believe this legislation is going to make Connecticut number one in New England with respect to energy efficiency and weatherization. And hopefully, we will soon lead the region in low electric rates as well,” said Senator Witkos, Energy Committee ranking member.

"The process of creating this bill was long, arduous and complicated," said Rep. Laura Hoydick, Energy Committee ranking member. "That's what happens when so many people representing so many points of view and constituents and areas of expertise work to create legislation that affects our entire state. I applaud the administration, legislative leaders and staff who worked tenaciously and tirelessly resulting in a very good outcome for the residents and businesses of our state. The focus is on the lowering of electric rates, making renewable energy and conservation programs accessible to all. I'm happy we have a department that will manage the environment and energy needs of the state because though the legislature can set direction, we need the administration to effect those changes."

“Our goal is clean energy, and that suggests a combination of environment and energy values," said Senator Ed Meyer (D-Guilford), Senate Chairman of the Environment Committee.

The broad aim of Senate Bill 1243 is to lower Connecticut’s energy costs and electric rates (amongst the highest in the nation), while moving the state toward clean and efficient energy. The bill seeks to help create the industries, jobs and businesses necessary to facilitate this kind of transformation in Connecticut, and then export those products, technologies and services elsewhere in the world.

Creation of DEEP

The legislation will merge the Department of Environmental Protection, the Department of Public Utilities (DPUC) and the Office of Policy and Management energy staff to create the new Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (DEEP). The new department will be the first agency dedicated full-time to comprehensive energy policy in Connecticut since the 1970’s.

Lowering Electric Rates

The legislation takes a number of steps to lower electric rates for Connecticut residents and businesses. The new energy department, DEEP, will work closely with electric utilities and suppliers to improve the way electricity is contracted and purchased for consumers. The legislation:

  • Creates an Electricity Procurement Manager to work with the utilities for lower electric rates
  • Expands electricity contracting options for increased market flexibility
  • Studies electric market rules and their effect on higher rates
  • Requires electric companies to offer time of use rates and meters
  • Explores options for discounted electric and natural gas rates for struggling families and seniors
  • Implements consumer protections in the electric supplier market

New Industries in Clean Energy

Senate Bill 1243 seeks to make Connecticut a national and world leader in clean energy with the creation of the Clean Energy Finance & Investment Authority (CEIFA). CEIFA will use the expertise of international finance experts to seek out private capital for clean energy projects, creating a synergy between private investors and traditional state financed energy initiatives.

To further promote clean energy, the bill:

  • Supports zero emission electric generation projects (solar, wind, hydro) with renewable energy credits (RECs)
  • Reduces incentives over time to drive technologies toward market competitiveness
  • Supports low emission electric generation (ex: fuel cells) at half the zero emission level program level
  • Expands permissible Clean Energy Fund projects to include electric and natural gas vehicle infrastructure, electricity storage and efficiency financing
  • Establishes a residential solar photovoltaic program
  • Explores repowering of older, dirty electric generators
  • Expands accountability for all clean energy programs

Reducing Energy Costs for Homes and Businesses

Senate Bill 1243 will also create the Office of Energy Efficient Business within DEEP. The office will serve as a one-stop-shop for businesses interested in energy efficiency and renewable energy, and provide businesses with information and consultation on all available programs. The office will not only receive inquiries, but proactively reach out to Connecticut businesses in an effort to spread the cost saving benefits of clean energy as widely and quickly as possible.

To further reduce costs through energy efficiency, the legislation:

  • Helps business install efficient cogeneration and anaerobic digestion facilities, turning waste into energy
  • Targets a 10 percent reduction in state building energy use by 2013, another 10 percent by 2018
  • Creates the PACE program to finance energy improvements through property assessments
  • Assists homes and businesses with replacement of inefficient boilers and furnaces
  • Enhances efficiency standards for electronic devices

The Senate is expected to vote and pass Senate Bill 1243 this afternoon. It will then proceed to the House of Representatives.

 

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