When it comes to lowering Connecticut’s high energy costs and boosting the economy, many state candidates seem to be suffering from political amnesia.
Some are saying that state government should be more involved in working to reduce the state’s exorbitant energy costs. What they seem to forget is that at the end of the 2010 legislative session last spring, many state lawmakers voted for three distinct proposals that actually increased the cost of electricity for Connecticut consumers.
Those who voted for the measures missed the obvious point that higher electricity costs weaken our economy and threaten jobs. So, what were these cost-raising measures, and why were they passed?
First, policymakers targeted consumers’ electric bills as a source of dollars to help balance the state’s hefty budget deficit. Connecticut Light & Power customers were supposed to see the Competitive Transition Assessment (CTAs) charge on their electric bills expire at the end of 2010. (United Illuminating customers were supposed to lose the charge in three years.)
Connecticut consumers had been paying the extra charge for 10 years and were looking forward to very welcome rate relief. Not anymore--The legislature voted to keep the CTA charge on electric customers’ bills as a way to pay off money they borrowed to close the state’s budget deficit.
Next, in the same legislation, state officials decided to “redirect” money from another charge on electric customers’ bills, again, to pay off money borrowed to bail out the state’s budget deficit.
Each year, consumers pay approximately $90 million dollars into the Connecticut Energy Efficiency Fund (CEEF) for programs that help them control energy use and therefore cost.
The legislature voted to take one-third of the CEEF money collected over an eight-year period to help close the budget gap.
Finally, in a separate piece of legislation— one that was correctly vetoed—lawmakers passed a massive energy bill that would have increased the size and scope of state government and dramatically increased ratepayer investment in select renewable energy sources. Overall cost estimates for Connecticut consumers ranged from tens of millions to hundreds of millions of dollars annually.
Connecticut voters can help clear the air on how the legislature’s actions earlier this year actually increased their energy costs.
During the fall campaign, ask your incumbent legislators where they stand on the issue now or how they voted on these measures last spring. Ask your candidates what their positions are. We cannot afford elected leaders who say one thing on the campaign trail and vote another way when in office.
For more information, contact Kevin Hennessy at 860.244.1979 or firstname.lastname@example.org.