Legislative solutions under consideration in the current 2017 Legislative session:
ELECTRIC RATES, NATURAL GAS PIPELINE: In 2017, CCAG's focus is on opposing proposed funding of a natural gas pipeline in the form of a pipeline tax. Cost projections by Eversource, one of the primary pipeline sponsors, ignores significant costs of the pipeline, including operations, maintenance, depreciation, and return on equity, making the true cost more than double the company’s claim $6.6 billion versus $3.2 billion.
Contrary to the utilities’ claim that the pipeline would lower consumer electric rates, New England ratepayers could have to pay an additional $277 million over the lifetime of the pipeline.
The pipeline sponsors had initially proposed that the pipeline construction be paid through a pipeline tax added to monthly electric bills. The pipeline tax was overruled by the Massachusetts Supreme Court and rejected by the New Hampshire Public Utilities Commission. That tax, however, remains in place in Connecticut, meaning ratepayers would be forced to pay for construction and any cost overruns of the pipelines as well as maintenance and operations. A bill has been submitted by Rep. Rosario of Bridgeport to ban the pipeline tax, HB 6546 and would prohibit utility customers from being forced to subsidize the cost of interstate natural gas pipeline construction. Thank you to www.consumersforsensibleenergy.org for these details.
NUCLEAR SHAKEDOWN: Dominion (Millstone owner) wants to put nuclear power in the same class as renewables based on the “no carbon emission” aspect of operation. CCAG is firmly against it. Nuclear has unique risks fundamentally different from distributed renewable sources such as solar, wind, and water. And Millstone has been quite profitable as evidenced in all reports to shareholders. More importantly, dilution of “renewable” as a legal term reduces incentives phasing out climate-warming fossil fuels.
SHARED SOLAR: Shared solar is at work all around us (MA, NY, and VT). There are no serious technical hurdles. Yet utilities resist. Shaded homes and rental properties in Connecticut cannot legally establish any nearby shared site for local energy sharing with utility net-metering for payback. In 2017, CCAG demands that we open the renewable markets to more residents immediately. The latest delay tactics seem to be: 1) refine the unneeded, delayed pilot project with yet a new RFP; and 2) we “may lose” farmland to solar power. Answers are easy. No pilot project is needed. Loss of productive farmland to solar panels is not a threat as long as easy to find, sensible solutions are arrived at. CCAG is working closely with longtime ally AARP to 1) increase solar installers, 2) help low-income families get renewables, and 3) increase renewable sources toward Germany’s sterling 30%.
WATER RESOURCES AND CLIMATE CHANGE: Bottlers are looking to buy Connecticut water, essentially privatizing our most important public resource. SB753 is a sham bill that purports to “study” possible problems. (See “shared solar,” similar delay tactics.) Instead, CCAG supports enacting the obvious protections such as: no water removal during droughts, bottlers pay a fair share of infrastructure costs, any sales must come after public discussion and analysis to insure adequacy of supply, and water usage fee structures must not discount large-scale siphoning of public supplies.
TOXICS: With the Federal EPA hobbled by a hostile Cabinet Secretary, action at the state level must increase. CCAG will work to remove useless flame retardants from furniture and children’s products, to require non-toxic state procurement rules, and to require proof of safety before deployment of chemicals.
Legislative solutions considered and fought for in 2016:
HB 5427, AN ACT CONCERNING THE SHARED CLEAN ENERGY FACILITY PILOT PROGRAM: Shared solar is not yet in working order after the 2016 legislative session. Changes needed to be made to 5427 to require utility companies to buy generated power for the "life of the facility," as recommended by the CT Academy of Science and Engineering. Passage of the changes would also have removed the limit of 6 megawatts (too small). More importantly, there was and is no need for a pilot project at all! Shared solar is working in a dozen states already. Anything but full roll-out is mere delay by reluctant utilities. CCAG opposed this bill without proposed changes.
SB 334, AN ACT CONCERNING MINOR REVISIONS TO THE ENERGY AND TECHNOLOGY RELATED STATUTES:
The bill did not pass. Passage would have implemented technical fixes to existing statutes governing shared solar development. This bill should have been passed instead of H.B. 5427 (above), a deeply flawed bill that includes financing requirements designed to make projects uneconomic and insure failure. CCAG also continues to fight for a full roll out of shared solar, not pilot programs.
HB 5299, AN ACT CONCERNING TOXIC FLAME RETARDANT CHEMICALS IN CHILDREN’S PRODUCTS AND UPHOLSTERED RESIDENTIAL FURNITURE: This bill was submarined by 1 Senator, when it was on the verge of passage. Again, we see the extreme power of money in politics using obscure levers to block the common good. The bill would have banned any product containing the flame retardant chemicals TDCPP, TDCP or TCPP that was marketed for the use of children three years of age or younger. Momentum for passage was large, and it had overwhelmingly passed the House before that single Senator killed it by threatening to run out the clock with a flood of amendments.
RB 5618 AN ACT REQUIRING THE DEVELOPMENT OF A CARBON FOOTPRINT METHODOLOGY TO ANALYZE STATE PROCUREMENT CONTRACTS: Did not win passage in 2016. CCAG followed and advocated for several bills that would have increased green procurement by state government, including this foundational one.
From the 2015 legislative session:
SB 928 Shared Solar: A shared renewable energy program would have allowed a broader group of energy consumers to meet their energy needs with clean, renewable energy. Whether or not they own an appropriate rooftop or property themselves, Connecticut families and businesses would have been able to subscribe to a local shared renewable energy project and get credit on their utility bills for their portion of the clean power produced.
This legislative season, the Energy and Technology Committee received not one but two bills concerning shared renewables. One called for a full-scale program. The other, supported by the state’s major electric utilities, called for a three-year pilot which has been amended to two-years. In spite of a high-quality study by the Connecticut Academy of Science and Engineering supporting full roll-out, the committee endorsed the pilot.
Since shared clean energy programs and policies have been developed in over a dozen states, it is difficult to understand exactly what we need to pilot. CCAG is disappointed with this outcome as it will only serve to ensure most Connecticut families and businesses do not have access to renewable energy for years to come.
Connecticut’s timid approach to clean energy penalizes consumers, costs state jobs- CT Mirror May 19th
570 AAC Electric Savings and Fixed Bill Fee: This bill initially capped at $10 the fixed charge all electric customers pay regardless of how much power they use. That charge has skyrocketed to $19.25 for Eversource and $17.25 for United Illuminating, though each company requested much more. By lowering and capping fixed charges, all consumers, including the most vulnerable, would have had a real chance to benefit economically from the rapid advances in technology that are already modernizing the power grid.
The bill — which passed the Senate but never made it to the House floor — eliminated a specific cap and replaced it with a new delineation of what could be calculated as part of the fixed charge, a prospect that had us worried as it could not be determined how this would play out. Some calculations actually projected that the fixed rate would go up! There is some possibility that elements of SB570 may get folded into the "budget implementer" bills during special session.