Energy Committee Begins in ‘Listening Mode’
The legislature’s Energy & Technology Committee kicked off its work this year with two forums at the Capitol where energy companies offered perspectives on the status of Connecticut’s marketplace and ideas on what the committee could focus on over the next several months.
Progress made, work to do
At the first forum on Tuesday, speakers from electricity distributors, power generators, suppliers, and marketers praised recent actions of the committee and the legislature that have resulted in significant progress toward providing cleaner and more reliable energy to Connecticut customers.
But they also said that more needs to be done to reduce energy costs.
For example, a representative from the New England Power Generators Association said that while the wholesale cost of fuel for electricity generation is 25% less than eight years ago, pipeline capacity constraints have led to 63% higher transmission and distribution costs over the same period.
Meanwhile, “green costs”–policies designed to promote cleaner energy–have nearly tripled.
Progress made in Connecticut to lower energy bills through a variety of energy efficiency and load management initiatives was also recognized and encouraged.
Speakers urged the committee to continue its commitment to modernizing electricity infrastructure in order to integrate large-scale, cost-effective renewable energy resources.
Without those efforts, the impact of ever-increasing renewable energy requirements could increase ratepayer bills by up to 50%, according to a spokesman for one of the energy distribution companies.
Constraints on gas pipeline capacity continue to significantly impact costs to Connecticut ratepayers–to the tune of nearly $2 billion over the past three years.
Speakers also stressed that ongoing discussions about lowering carbon emissions need to focus on the transportation sector–the only sector where carbon emissions have not decreased since 1990.
By contrast, emissions in the electricity sector dropped 36% between 1990 and 2012, said one speaker.
Another challenge is the inequity of “shifted costs” associated with shared solar and virtual net metering programs.
One speaker estimated that non-solar customers are paying on average about $29 per month for installation and maintenance of systems that benefit only solar customers.
Finally, a representative from the energy marketers stressed that new blending techniques involving low-sulfur biofuels are making “bioheat” (petroleum-based heating fuels) a cleaner, cheaper and more reliable option than ever before for residential and commercial customers.
Thursday’s forum featured representatives of zero carbon emission fuel sources, including solar, wind, and nuclear. We will update this report online at cbia.com.
For more information, contact CBIA’s Eric Brown (860.244.1926) | @CBIAericb
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