Senate pulls plug on energy bill for tonight

The Senate now appears likely to postpone until tomorrow a debate of a major energy bill.

With a veto threat from the Rell administration, the proponents of the bill have been trying to shore up support by negotiating changes.

Senate staff now says the bill will not go forward tonight. The Senate Democratic majority will hold a caucus on the bill later tonight or early tomorrow.


Setting aside three years of conflict, Sen. John W. Fonfara, D-Hartford, and Rep. Vickie O. Nardello, D-Prospect, have begun collaborating on what could be the biggest energy bill since deregulation in 1998 — a revamping of the regulatory structure and new subsidies for solar energy.

The two co-chairs of the Energy and Technology Committee circulated drafts of their legislation last week, setting off a scramble by industry and environmental groups.

The administration said today that the subsidies could add $72 million in costs to ratepayers.


As originally drafted, the bill would create a Connecticut Energy and Technology Authority, replacing the Public Utilities Control Authority that now regulates the state’s utilities.

The revamped authority would have the added responsibility of promoting new technologies and renewable energy sources, such as solar, wind and hydro-power. It would conduct research and evaluate what has been a volatile industry since deregulation. It also would play a stronger role in procuring energy.

It marries elements of disparate bills promoted by Nardello, who unsuccessfully fought deregulation as the energy vice chairwoman, and those favored by Fonfara, a deregulation advocate.

Over night, it became the most heavily lobbied bill of the session.

The failure to pass the bill in one chamber tonight puts the measure in serious jeopardy. The session ends at midnight Wednesday, and the legislature still has hopes of debating a budget Tuesday or Wednesday.

With time growing short, the energy bill is vulnerable to a filibuster unless the sponsors can bring on board the administration and the Republican minority.