State government can do a better job of addressing Connecticut’s energy needs than the private sector, according to the legislature’s Energy Committee, which this week approved two measures designed to test that idea.

Connecticut’s dismal fiscal situation, however, is a really good reason not to give the state more control over any facet of our economy. Ignoring the state’s fiscal realities and the desire of the people of Connecticut for a smaller, leaner and less expensive state government, however, the Energy & Technology Committee approved two ill-advised bills that counter those concerns.

One that would create even more financial liability for the state and another that would chase away much-needed business investment.

First, HB-5505 creates a new division within the Department of Public Utility Control to procure and generate electric power. This would cost millions of dollars to implement, and it would take billions of dollars in collateral to procure and generate power.

Almost exclusively along party lines (Democrats supporting and all Republicans and one Democrat opposing; one member was absent), the committee approved the bill 14-7. Connecticut already has resources in place to address its energy needs. Electric distribution companies in the state have the experience, expertise and capability to procure power for consumers in the state that do not choose a competitive supplier.

Also, on a narrow, 11-10 vote, the committee adopted HB-5467, which would adopt a first-in-the-nation “windfall profits” tax on electric power generators.  The tax is a surefire way to discourage investment in electric generation in Connecticut—something Connecticut cannot afford from both an electric and economic development standpoint.

Why would investors choose to participate in a market where they could be punished?  In these trying economic times, when elected officials are emphasizing job creation and economic recovery, this proposal will have the direct opposite effect. It will harm Connecticut’s jobs, energy market and economic future.

For more information, contact CBIA’s Kevin Hennessy at 860.244.1979 or kevin.hennessy@cbia.com.