PRESS RELEASE: Environmental and energy organizations urge Governor Lamont to advocate for clean climate and green economy

April 24, 2019

Dear Governor Lamont,

As you know, the environmental decisions we make today shape the future of our air, land, and water—and those in turn set the stage for a vibrant economy and more secure, healthy citizens.

We applaud your statements from the campaign trail, as those statements indicated bold leadership for policies that protect our environment and human health, save ratepayers money, and spur Connecticut’s green economy:

“Nothing is more important than the Environment. Everything I do in the next four years, I’m going to do looking through an environmental lens. The key to achieving the goal of a zero-carbon-emissions state in the future is making the right decisions now about developing renewable energy sources such as solar and wind power. It makes little sense to invest $6.6 billion for a gas pipeline.” (Hartford Courant, 7/16/18)

Your energy, environment, and transportation transition committees worked tirelessly to outline polices that lower our dependence on fossil fuels and expand green initiatives. This year, the Connecticut General Assembly has also indicated broad, enthusiastic, and bipartisan support for increasing offshore wind, keeping solar power competitive, stopping natural gas waste, and increasing energy efficiency.

However, we are concerned by recent indications that agency leadership in your administration, such as the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection, is pushing far more conservative approaches that do not reflect the need for urgent climate action. Without these important initiatives, not only will we lose existing jobs, Connecticut’s green economy will slow and we will not meet the state’s 2020 and 2030 greenhouse gas (GHG) reduction targets.

The undersigned leading environmental, energy, and electric vehicle organizations ask that you continue your vocal support for Connecticut’s clean climate and green economy. Please encourage your agency leaders to work towards bold, concrete action for a green and vibrant Connecticut.

ENERGY EFFICIENCY AND CLEAN ENERGY FUNDS

As a top priority, we ask that you protect the Connecticut energy efficiency and clean energy funds and right the wrongs the legislature made in 2017 when they broke public trust by raiding the funds. The ratepayers already pay for these programs, which lower energy waste and energy expense, spur the green economy, and create jobs.

The Conservation and Load Management programs are cost effective programs that help close the affordability gap in our state and lower energy burdens on our environment while protecting human health and strengthening our energy grid. They are tremendous job and economic drivers—direct service energy efficiency has a 7-to-1 return on investment in economic activity.[1] These programs should be equal access for all Connecticut ratepayers, regardless of their energy source, and should not be continually raided to fill budget gaps or to pay other bills.

We ask that you take action to protect the energy efficiency and clean energy funds for the long term, and halt the ongoing damage by preventing the pending June 2019 diversion of $54 million.

ELECTRIC VEHICLES AND CLEAN TRANSPORTATION

At 38 percent, transportation is the largest source of Connecticut’s GHG emissions. Connecticut must take action to reduce these emissions in order to meet the mandate GHG reductions.

Specifically, H.B. 7205, An Act Concerning The Accessibility Of Electric Vehicles In Connecticut, contains top recommendations put forward by your energy policy transition committee. H.B. 7205 helps put more EVs on the road, institutes state fleet mandates for light duty vehicles and buses, and provides sustainable funding for our current zero emission vehicle rebate program (the Connecticut Hydrogen and Electric Automobile Purchase Program—CHEAPR).

The Department of Transportation already publicly supports transitioning to a 30% electric bus fleet in recognition of the long-term cost savings potential. Furthermore, economically disadvantaged populations in smog-filled urban communities will benefit the most from the clean air benefits of replacing conventional fossil fuel transportation with EVs.

We ask that you help propel electrification of Connecticut’s transportation forward and at the same time improve equity of availability of EVs and clean transit.

OFFSHORE WIND

There is bipartisan and industry support for the procurement of 2,000 MW of offshore wind energy. Massachusetts, Maryland and New Jersey already have aggressive legislative mandates, and ratepayers in Rhode Island and Massachusetts are projected to reap substantial savings from their states’ offshore wind contracts.  A robust long-term commitment to offshore wind will ensure that Connecticut secures maximum benefits from this emerging industry, including increased reliability of Connecticut’s electric grid, energy at critical times to help meet winter peak demand, reduced reliance on natural gas, and achievement of the state’s Global Warming Solutions Act targets.

HB7156, AAC Procurement of Energy Derived from Offshore Wind, would produce $3 billion in new economic growth for Connecticut, at least 4,000 new jobs, and significant long-term utility bill savings for electric ratepayers.[2]

We ask that you support legislation that mandates solicitations for 2,000 MW of offshore wind by 2030 and includes strong labor and environmental protections to keep Connecticut from falling behind our neighbors in the race for in-state investments in supply chain activities and local jobs.

SOLAR ENERGY AND NET METERING

Despite its advantages, solar penetration levels in Connecticut are still very low compared with neighboring states. [3] Connecticut must focus on increasing solar deployment, rather than terminating policies that achieve bill savings for residents and reduce climate pollution.

The Energy and Technology Committee has shown bipartisan commitment to address the problematic changes to Connecticut’s solar programs enacted last session—including saving net metering, the elimination of which has had devastating impacts on consumers, solar deployment, and solar jobs in other states.

Specifically, we ask you to support the provisions in H.B. 7251 that would delay the end of our current net metering policy until December 31, 2021, to allow time to study the economic value of solar deployment to Connecticut and consider how to best transition to a long term sustainable plan that ensures consumers get fair compensation for the energy they produce from their solar systems.

H.B. 7251 would also add 50 MW to the Green Bank’s Residential Solar Investment Program (RSIP), and continue the commercial ZREC program for an additional two years. These programs provide rebates and performance-based incentives to residential and commercial solar PV installations and have been critical solar deployment tools to ensure the state is able to grow solar parity across all race, ethnic, and income groups.

We ask that you help advocate for increased solar development, net metering, and extensions for RSIP and ZREC. In addition, appoint a diverse group to conduct a Value of Solar study, including those from the environmental community and renewable industry representatives. This would give weight to vigorously continuing in-state programs for projects of all scales from residential to commercial/industrial.

LEAKING GAS INFRASTRUCTURE AND PIPELINE TAX

Leaking gas infrastructure is a serious concern for the climate and human health. Methane is 100 times more effective than carbon dioxide at trapping heat in the atmosphere within a 10-year period, 86-times over 20-years, and 34-times over 100 years[4]. Health impacts include higher rates of asthma, cancer, and birth defects in people living near gas infrastructure such as power plants. A recent report by the Sierra Club[5] details the extent of the problem in Hartford, Danbury, and New London, finding as many as four leaks on average per mile—much higher than reported by PURA.

S.B. 232, An Act Concerning The Allowable Percentage Of Leakage From Gas Pipelines, will address gas leaks by forbidding gas companies from charging ratepayers for leaked gas, and will lower the leak tolerance threshold from 3% to 1%, requiring repair at 1% of leaked gas.

Furthermore, now that Connecticut has committed to a renewable energy future and strengthened climate targets, expanding gas infrastructure does not fit into that future and the 2015 pipeline tax should be repealed.

We ask for your support to address gas leaks for a cleaner, safer, environment.

PLEASE SUPPORT THESE CRITICAL CLEAN CLIMATE INITIATIVES

There has been remarkably widespread bipartisan cohesiveness and support for these initiatives among the transition teams, legislators, environmental organizations, and industry leaders. We ask that you advocate for these initiatives with the agency leadership of your administration, so they will join the long list of proponents of a clean energy future. You have the opportunity to be Connecticut’s climate champion and help make our state a green energy leader, to not only meet our climate mandates, but to be competitive in the race to a green and healthy future.

Thank you for your support of these critical initiatives and policies.

Sincerely,

  • 350 CT
  • Acadia Center
  • Ashford Clean Energy Task Force
  • Canton Energy Committee
  • ChargePoint
  • Clean Water Action
  • Citizens Campaign for the Environment
  • Connecticut Citizen Action Group
  • Connecticut Fund for the Environment/Save the Sound
  • Connecticut Green Building Council
  • Connecticut League of Conservation Voters
  • Connecticut Roundtable on Climate and Jobs
  • Consumers for Sensible Energy
  • Eastern CT Green Action
  • Efficiency For All
  • Energy Efficiency Solutions
  • Energy and Environmental Security Strategies
  • EV Club of CT
  • Fight The Hike
  • Green Eco Warriors
  • MSL Group, Inc.
  • New Haven Energy Task Force
  • Northeast Clean Energy Council
  • People’s Action for Clean Energy
  • Portland Clean Energy Task Force
  • Plug In America
  • Sierra Club Connecticut
  • Simsbury Clean Energy Task Force
  • Vote Solar
  • West Hartford Clean Energy Commission
  • Wilton Go Green, Inc.

[1] Efficiency for All: https://efficiencyforall.org/wordpress/wp-content/uploads/2017/03/Efficiency-First.pdf

[2] Acadia Center, Building a Stronger Connecticut, online at https://acadiacenter.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/12/Acadia-Center_CTGovernorMemo_2018.pdf

[3] Barbose G., Putting the Potential Rate Impacts of Distributed Solar into Context, January 2017, Lawrence Berkley National Laboratory, https://emp.lbl.gov/sites/all/files/lbnl-1007060.pdf. Similarly, the Brookings Institute reviewed several solar valuation studies by regulators in over 10 states, and concluded that many show that net metering benefits all utility customers when all costs and benefits are accounted for. M. Muro and D. Saba, Rooftop Solar: Net metering is a Net Benefit, Brookings Institute (May 23, 2016), https://www.brookings.edu/research/rooftop-solar-net-metering-is-a-net-benefit/.

[4] http://www.eeb.cornell.edu/howarth/summaries_CH4.php

[5] Connecticut Mobile Methane Leaks Survey and Analysis Results, April 2019 https://static.wixstatic.com/ugd/66f28e_7e62af04d87a40568aafff9327695532.pdf

 

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