Norm Needleman


Norm Needleman



March 22, 2022

Legislation Targeting Enhanced Energy Resilience Pass Through Energy & Technology Committee, One Step Closer to Becoming Law

Senator Needleman, Senate Chair of E&T Committee, Leads Passage

Today, two key pieces of legislation with important connections to the future of energy in Connecticut passed through the Energy & Technology Committee, receiving joint favorable support. State Senator Norm Needleman (D-Essex), Senate Chair of the Energy & Technology Committee, led passage of the bills, which respectively will study the state’s power grid and its resilience against future pressures and regulate utilities’ use of energy storage systems to potentially support and enhance the resilience of critical infrastructure. With their support in the Committee, these bills respectively move to the Senate and House.

“Our state needs to be prepared for whatever comes in the future. We’ve already seen the impacts of significant weather events on our power grid, and it’s likely that pressure on the grid itself will only increase in coming years,” said Sen. Needleman. “This legislation looks to our state’s future needs, studying grid resilience and what we’ll need to prepare for in years to come. It also works proactively, regulating energy storage systems that could make our state more secure and prepared in the event of extreme weather, extreme use on the grid or other concerns that could cause headaches in the future. I am hopeful that both of these bills will become law, shoring up our defenses well before the next threat makes itself apparent.”

Senate Bill 177, “An Act Concerning Grid Resilience,” would require the chairperson of the Public Utilities Regulatory Authority to conduct a study regarding grid resilience in Connecticut, with the results reported to the Energy & Technology Committee by the end of 2022.

The Conservation Law Foundation was among the organizations lending their support to Senate Bill 177, which it described as a “critical first step” for understanding risks current infrastructure faces and what steps may be needed to ensure future grid reliability. The CLF and several other groups, including The Nature Conservatory, noted PURA has already conducted a similar study, it was concerned with distribution lines and emergency procedures under extreme events; these groups noted that New England’s reliance on natural gas is another potential pressure point and concern for the future and expressed hope that PURA would look at a wider range of potential resiliency issues.

House Bill 5327, “An Act Concerning Energy Storage Systems and Electric Distribution System Reliability,” would if passed regulate electric distribution companies’ use of energy storage systems, permit the preauthorization of energy storage systems enhancing reliability, create a pilot program to demonstrate how energy storage can increase infrastructure resiliency, and require the Division of Emergency Management and Homeland Security and electric distribution companies to make plans on reliable emergency or backup power for critical infrastructure.

In case of emergency, testified Eversource Energy Vice President of System Planning Digaunto Chatterjee, energy storage systems would provide electric distribution companies with a necessary tool in reducing the impact of power outages for critical customers, enhancing power system resiliency when paired with other backup generation. It could also provide increased cost effectiveness for Connecticut utility customers, he added, returning revenues to customers or utilizing energy storage in cases of emergency.

The Nature Conservancy testified that it supports the deployment and utilization of storage systems across the state, finding them critical in supporting use of clean renewable resources. It did note it did not support ownership of storage by distribution companies except in special services.

FuelCell Energy of Danbury testified in support of the pilot program concept for the purpose of showing how such systems can improve the resiliency of critical infrastructure and improve reliability of the electric distribution system.