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State Senator

Bob Duff

Majority Leader

Representing Norwalk & Darien

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Contact: Adam Joseph

March 24, 2014

Duff Leads Passage of Shared Clean Energy Program

Initiative would allow renters and other families, schools and businesses to go solar for the first time

State Senator Bob Duff (D-Norwalk) recently led passage of committee passage of legislation to create a Shared Clean Energy pilot program, which would establish a new way for renters and other families, schools and businesses to directly invest in their own, dedicated supply of renewable energy for the first time.

The program is now included in renewable energy bill SB 353, which passed the General Assembly’s Committee on Energy and Technology, of which Senator Duff serves as Senate Chair, last week. Clean energy advocates applauded the approval of this new renewable energy concept by the committee, and said they look forward to working with lawmakers to expand the Shared Clean Energy Program beyond a two-project pilot. Many Connecticut residents need this policy to be able to participate in and benefit from the state’s growing renewable energy economy.

“Clean energy is a bright spot of growth in Connecticut’s economy, yet a majority of our residents simply cannot participate because their rooftops are not suitable for solar panels, or they are not able to install other kinds of renewable energy alternatives. By simply enabling more of Connecticut to invest in and receive the bill saving benefits of local renewable energy systems, the state can unleash tremendous economic activity without any new state subsidies,” said Senator Duff.

“Shared Clean Energy would make solar work for even more Connecticut homes and businesses. That means more local solar investment, more local solar jobs and healthier, more resilient communities. We thank the Energy Committee for their leadership and urge their colleagues in the legislature to expand this commonsense policy this year so that more Connecticut customers can benefit from the program,” said Hannah Masterjohn, new markets program director at Vote Solar.

“Every poll in America shows home and business owners want greater access to solar power. We’re going to argue on behalf of electric ratepayers who have paid the clean energy surcharge on their electric bill for 10 years now and shouldn’t have to wait until 2018 to be given the chance to own a solar system,” said Michael Trahan, executive director of Solar Connecticut, the state’s solar business industry group.

“Connecticut residents are ready for a shared clean energy law. Solar is now a popular emissions-free source of energy but most residents can’t take part in our solar programs through no fault of their own. Residents who can’t put panels on their own house should be allowed to own part of a system built on a brownfield or vacant lot. We need to strengthen SB 353 beyond a small pilot program and open up the opportunity for everyone to be part of a clean energy future,” said Roger Smith, co-director of Clean Water Action.

Despite record solar growth, a majority of Connecticut energy consumers—including renters, condo-owners, and homeowners with shaded roofs—are unable to invest in their own rooftop solar energy systems. SB 353 would overcome that barrier to solar adoption, as well as other forms of renewable energy generation.

The bill currently calls for a limited pilot program that would allow consumers in two communities to subscribe to local, off-site renewable energy projects and receive a utility bill credit for their portion of the energy produced. Advocates will be working with committee leaders to expand the program beyond a two-project pilot before final passage in this legislative session. Ten other states have passed shared clean energy programs, including Massachusetts and Vermont.

If passed, SB 353’s Shared Clean Energy program would build on Connecticut’s proven solar energy success by broadening participation. Connecticut currently has 74 megawatts of installed solar capacity, enough to power 9,700 homes according to the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA). In 2013, $143 million was invested in Connecticut to install solar for home, business and utility use. This represents a 154 percent increase over the previous year, and is expected to grow again in 2014. The state’s growing solar energy sector currently employs 1,100 according to The Solar Foundation’s National Job Census.


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Adam Joseph

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Hartford, CT 06106-1591

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