Legislature ‘blows it’ on energy bill vote: CT League of Conservation Voters

May 28th, 2013 | By | Category: Featured Story

Statement by the CT League of Conservation Voters regarding the legislature’s passage of SB 1138 AAC CT CLEAN ENERGY GOALS:

Hartford, CT – “The legislature blew it. The state legislature’s vote today to retreat from our state’s clean energy goals practically guarantees that we get locked into large, environmentally damaging HydroQuebec power to flood our energy market and damage the growing industry that creates jobs related to clean, renewable power in Connecticut. Large hydropower has always been part of our power source mix in New England, but it has NEVER been allowed to masquerade as being on a par with truly sustainable sources like wind and solar, and even environmentally responsible hydropower at home.

“What they did today was ensure that our ratepayer dollars will go to Canada to subsidize a government-owned energy company that counts nuclear, coal, oil and gas in the mix of what they plan to sell us as “clean renewable energy.” The promise that this law will solve our energy cost problems is reminiscent of the promises made when we deregulated the electricity industry with disastrous results, or thought nuclear was the safe, reliable answer.

“We are equally dismayed at the Administration’s unwillingness to consider the many options offered by stakeholders that would have addressed both cost and protection of the environment. We applaud all of the legislators who took a stand and worked so hard to fix this ill-conceived legislation. Today’s vote reflects a clear choice by our elected leaders and will have a very long shelf life for everyone involved.”

Lori Brown
CTLCV Executive Director
860-236-5442 office
860-214-0345 cell

Below was the last message sent by CTLCV to lawmakers in advance of their vote:

There has been widespread opposition to SB 1138 from environmental groups because all versions to date would seriously weaken the state’s commitment to purchasing 20% of its electricity from clean, renewable energy by 2020.

Advocates have consistently offered many solutions to amend the bill in a way that addresses both environmental and cost concerns. WE URGE YOU TO CONSIDER THE ISSUES WE HAVE RAISED FOR DISCUSSION TO IMPROVE THE LEGISLATION BEFORE ALLOWING THE ROLLBACK OF OUR STATE’S ENERGY STANDARDS.

The current primary source of environmental opposition is Section 9 of SB 1138, in shorthand, “the hydro trigger.” It is important to understand that the environmental community strongly supports some portions of SB 1138, notably Section 6. Section 6 allows DEEP to acquire renewables at a bargain price with long-term contracts.

Section 9, the hydro trigger, currently presents the major obstacle to securing environmental support for a productive compromise. As passed by the Senate, the hydro trigger provision would give broad authority to DEEP to replace 5% of the Class I RPS target with environmentally destructive large-scale hydropower by 2020. We appreciate that House leadership has been considering improvements to this section. However, an amendment that circulated this morning (LCO 7891) misses the mark of a compromise that the environmental community could support.

Strengthening Measures Could Include:

  • Request proposals from existing Class I generators before activating the trigger
  • Limit the reduction in Class I to the difference between the supply gap shown in the study and the amount acquired under Measure 1
  • Interim check points for an early assessment of whether or not State is on track to meet its goal.
  • Responses to a shortfall could involve either pausing or elongating the goal of 20% Class I by 2020. But to avoid a rollback of the goal, compensatory rises should be used to compensate for any temporary reduction.
  • Remove large-scale hydro from trigger or use it only outside the RPS framework. Inclusion of large-scale hydro is unnecessary to the operation of Section 9.
  • Trigger determinations should be made by PURA and/or the procurement manager
  • End authority to use trigger in 2020 or when 20% goal is reached. Do not allow backsliding after the renewables ramp-up is finished
  • Define “material shortage” as 0.5% or greater (out of 10% to 20%) or otherwise tighten the trigger. It should not be so sensitive that one small ACP pulls it.

We are willing to agree to other provisions that represent significant concessions by the environmental community for the benefit of Connecticut consumers.

Environmental leaders have been working hard for months to find an acceptable compromise. If revised along these lines, SB 1138 could be turned into a bill that is a win for the environment and Connecticut consumers.

SEE ALSO:

http://environmentalheadlines.com/ct/2013/05/29/renewable-energy-bill-heads-back-to-senate/ from CT News Junkie

The language of CFE’s statement was noticeably weaker

CFE STATEMENT ON HOUSE PASSAGE OF RENEWABLE ELECTRICITY BILL

NEW HAVEN, CT — Connecticut Fund for the Environment released the following statement today after the Connecticut House of Representatives passed a new version of Senate Bill 1138, a bill that would amend Connecticut’s renewable energy requirements.

“It is to the credit of thousands of concerned citizens and some principled representatives that the version of S.B. 1138 passed by the House today is an improvement over the Senate bill. Unfortunately, this version still risks sending Connecticut’s energy future down the wrong path,” said Mark LeBel, energy fellow for CFE. “Section 9 of the bill still allows DEEP to dilute the Renewable Portfolio Standard by counting large-scale hydropower as a Class 1 renewable. While some safeguards have been added to the House version, the fundamental problems remain. If this version of the renewables bill becomes law, the environmental community and clean energy businesses will have to work hard to protect the environmental benefits of Class I for years to come. We do strongly support other sections of this bill, such as granting DEEP the authority to enter into long-term contracts with wind generators.”

Connecticut’s Renewable Portfolio Standard stipulates that electricity providers must procure a certain percentage of their electricity from Class 1 renewable sources, ramping up to a total of 20 percent by 2020.

ALSO: State House approves renewable package – Connecticut Post.

S.B. 1138 passed the House 112-33, with five members abstaining. Because the bill was amended by the House, it must return to the Senate for final passage.

Christopher Phelps, executive director of the nonprofit Environment Connecticut, said the bill would hurt the state’s effort to obtain 20 percent of its power from renewable sources by 2020.

“We’re very disappointed,” Phelps said after the vote. “It really makes Connecticut maybe the only state moving backwards from its commitment to renewables. This weakens our renewable energy sources at a time when we should be going big, for a clean energy future.”

He described the changes from the Senate bill as “modest” at best.

For more on this story, visit: State House approves renewable package – Connecticut Post.

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