Philosophical differences among key members of the General Assembly’s Energy and Technology Committee appear to be the reason lawmakers failed to enact major energy legislation this year.
Two camps within the committee greatly differ: One supports marketplace competition, innovation and technology; the other leans toward bigger government and less consumer choice.
Fortunately for business consumers, even though the committee approved some controversial measures that would have negatively affected ratepayers, the proposals failed in the legislature.
One ill-advised committee proposal (HB-6510) would have created a Connecticut Power Authority. This new, quasi-state agency would be charged with procuring power and owning generation to meet the electricity needs of consumers. Start-up costs would have run in the millions of dollars, with billions more necessary to operate the authority effectively.
It would have been a poor idea to add another layer of state bureaucracy. Regulated electricity distribution companies are meeting the needs of Connecticut’s consumers. And given the state’s large budget deficits, this is no time to increase the size of state government.
Another negative committee proposal (HB-6636), would have taken from some customers the right to choose their electric generation service provider. Current law allows businesses and residents to shop the competitive market for the generation portion of their electricity bill. This choice gives customers the opportunity to get lower rates than they would through standard service or supplier of last resort which are offered by the electric distribution companies.
HB-6636 would have taken away that choice for all users with a demand of 100 kilowatts or less who do not use a competitive supplier. Today’s consumers want and need options. Taking away their right to choose between a competitive supplier and standard service would have been wrong.
Recognizing that these proposals were potentially harmful to Connecticut’s electricity ratepayers, the General Assembly chose not to enact them into law. These proposals, however, are likely to resurface next year; businesses should be prepared to fight these measures once again.
For more information about energy issues, please contact CBIA’s at 860.244-1900.