This week, the General Assembly’s Energy & Technology and Commerce committees addressed two issues that would use innovation to bring energy-cost relief to Connecticut, and one that unfortunately would expand government and increase costs.

On the positive side, ideas contained in two proposals (SB-1129 and SB-1130) will reduce peak energy demand and increase the amount of Class I renewable generation.

Controlling demand
Connecticut can’t control costs for heating oil or natural gas. It is possible, however, to control the demand for those resources —especially during the times of peak use.

Traditionally in Connecticut, peak demand is during the hot, humid days of summer. Experts say that peak demand accounts for 20% of annual electricity costs in the state.

Lawmakers in the committees are seeking to improve and expand Connecticut’s Energy Efficiency Partners Program by tapping new technologies to reduce peak demand in the state.

The program, administered by the Department of Public Utility Control, offers funding for the purchase and deployment of improved demand-side management technologies to help consumers conserve energy and reduce demand in Connecticut.

Participants in the program will benefit directly by implementing new demand-side technologies at their sites, but every Connecticut consumer will benefit indirectly. The partners’ electric bills will decrease with their more efficient use and lower demand. Every consumer will benefit because Connecticut’s overall peak demand will diminish, reducing the most expensive electricity for everyone.

More renewable energy
The other important piece in proposed bills is the potential to increase the amount of Class I renewable generation in Connecticut, which also should help reduce costs. New renewable generation will encourage economic growth and job creation in Connecticut through increased manufacturing, installation and maintenance.

Reducing the peak demand and increasing the amount of Class I renewable generation in Connecticut is good for all consumers, and the economy.

More bureaucracy
However, also approved was a proposal (HB-6510) to expand state government by creating a quasi-state agency known as the “Connecticut Electric Authority.” The authority would procure power, own generation, and borrow and bond money to meet the needs of some Connecticut power customers. But creating another layer of state bureaucracy that would be expensive to operate, would lack the expertise of the utility companies and could not guarantee savings, is not the kind of activity that’s helpful to the economy or taxpayers.

For more information, contact CBIA’s at 860-244-1900.