Climate change mitigation and the continued reduction of greenhouse gas emissions are top priorities for the General Assembly this session.

"Climate change has, and will, significantly impact how business is done in our state and around the world," CBIA’s Shannon King told the legislature's Energy and Technology Committee March 5. 

"Connecticut employers continue to implement their own innovative sustainability, energy efficiency, and climate change mitigation strategies."

SB 10 codifies an executive order Governor Lamont signed last September, pushing Connecticut to reach zero carbon emissions by 2040. 

That order reestablished the Governor's Council on Climate Change, tasked with evaluating the state's existing climate change mitigation strategies and developing recommendations to accelerate the zero carbon goal.

The bill also gives the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection authority to procure up to 300,000 megawatt-hours of electricity from active and passive demand measures and energy storage systems. 

Emission Standards

Additionally, DEEP's commissioner will assess the energy, environment, and air quality impacts of adopting California's medium and heavy-duty emission standards.

King cautioned the committee to consider adhering to California's stricter emission standard. 

"Purchasing trucks with this new standard will be more expensive—particularly for small and medium sized businesses—putting them at a competitive disadvantage, impacting their bottom line, and potentially increasing the cost of their products," King explained.

"Businesses may also opt to buy their medium and heavy duty vehicles out of state, resulting in a loss of revenue to Connecticut."

Natural Gas Infrastructure

The committee also heard testimony on a bill targeting natural gas infrastructure.

Section 1 of HB 5350 authorizes DEEP to conduct requests for proposals to purchase biogas generated from anaerobic digestion facilities, known as a renewable natural gas. 

"Expanding renewable energy sources such as biogas will help Connecticut achieve its carbon reduction goals," King said.

Lawmakers must consider the impact policies have on ratepayers and ensure transparency around potential price increases.

However, Section 2(d) limits the expansion of natural gas to businesses and residents. If implemented, it could make expanding gas access for businesses cost-prohibitive. 

"Energy costs are one of the most important considerations for running a business in Connecticut. Our state has some of the highest energy costs in the nation—62% higher than the national average," King said.

King testified that the committee should "consider the impact all new energy and environmental policies have on ratepayers and ensure transparency around potential price increases on commercial as well as residential customers."

SB 10 and HB 5350 await action in the Energy and Technology Committee.

Green New Deal?

Connecticut's version of the federal Green New Deal proposal establishes additional greenhouse gas emission reductions, before and after the governor's revised 2040 goal. 

SB 354 was introduced through the Labor and Public Employees Committee—unusual for energy and environmental legislation.

One section of the bill establishes a new Department of Labor office charged with transitioning and training workers for clean energy jobs, such as constructing renewable sources and managing energy efficiency programs. 

The bill also tasks DEEP and the Governor’s Council on Climate Change to develop new scheduled regulations aimed at further reducing carbon emissions and transitioning energy generation to renewable sources. 

But with 11 additional regulations to assess and implement, King reminded the committee to consider the upcoming onslaught of state employee retirements, putting pressure on services and resources. 

King urged the committee to support and facilitate DEEP's 20 by 20 initiative, "which delivers services, reforms regulations, and completes projects using new technology, lean practices, and thoughtful policymaking."

SB 354 awaits action in the Labor and Public Employees Committee. 

For more information, contact CBIA's Shannon King (860.331.0712) | @shannoneking53