The state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection is taking specific steps to streamline its permitting and regulatory processes to better drive economic growth.
DEEP Commissioner Katie Dykes unveiled the new steps June 13 before 220 people at the CBIA's Energy and Environment Conference in Cromwell.
She said DEEP is doing its part to help turn the state's economy around, which she described as "job No. 1—and 2, and 3, and 4, and 5—for this administration."
Dykes introduced a new program called 20 by 20 that contains 16 goals her department wants to accomplish by the end of 2020 to improve efficiency and permitting.
"We see this as not just business friendly, but environmentally friendly, because we need to make our processes easier for people to comply with so that businesses can do the right thing, so that complying with our regulations sets businesses at an economic advantage," Dykes said.
She asked the public, including businesses, to email their ideas to help develop the last four goals for the program.
Dykes said the first goal is to make the permitting time frame more transparent.
"We know that businesses need more certainty about when decisions are likely to be issued," she said.
DEEP will establish an average expected time frame for each permit application and share results with the public.
"Our hope is that by the end of this, we will have increased the percentage of permits that are issued within the expected time frame," Dykes said.
The second goal is to enhance the pre-application assistance DEEP provides.
Dykes said she received positive feedback from manufacturers who told her they were pleased with the pre-application process.
"We know it works better for us, and it works better for you," she said.
Another goal is to reduce the time for Transfer Act audits, which a recently passed bill, SB 1030, helps address by shortening the time frame for DEEP to commence a final verification under the act from three years to one year.
"This new time frame is going to provide parties with certainty more quickly on whether the final verification will be audited by DEEP, and we know that's what property owners need is that certainty that remediation is complete," Dykes said.
Dykes said she always brings a pad and pen when attending CBIA events because she gets so much useful feedback.
"What I've heard a lot is that there's so much progress that we have made in improving the predictability, the efficiency, and the transparency of our regulatory processes," she said.
"That's what's really driving our efforts today."
CBIA's Eric Brown thanked Dykes for "seeking input from the regulated community."
The 2019 General Assembly session was a positive one for energy issues, Dykes said.
She also said the state budget provides DEEP with adequate staffing, and puts an end to lawmakers raiding funds earmarked for energy efficiency and green programs.
Dykes also praised passage of a bill that authorizes DEEP to proceed with procuring up to 30% of Connecticut's energy from offshore wind.
"This is just an incredible accomplishment," she said.
"We know that in meeting our carbon goals and also providing for reliable, fuel-secure sources of power, offshore wind has to be and will be an important complement in the years to come."
Dykes said Connecticut remains committed to protecting its environment, which, in the long run, will provide benefits.
"What we think builds our competitive economic advantage for the state of Connecticut is having that sound environmental quality, that clean and healthy environment that makes people want to live here, that makes people want to grow and expand jobs here," she said.