What you missed during the death penalty debate

OK, and from several days before.

Catching up a bit in the world of energy and the environment, here’s a laundry list of some things that have happened lately that could actually affect you.

1. The merger of Northeast Utilities and NSTAR not only was approved Monday by the Connecticut Public Utilities Regulatory Authority Wednesday, it was also approved by PURA’s Massachusetts equivalent. And that’s pretty much it. It’s happening.

2. PURA’s been busy. Wednesday it approved the state’s first Z-REC and L-REC programs. In English, that means we will now have new more competitive ways for developing zero and low (get it, Z and L) emissions from commercial renewable energy projects. It’s complicated. But the folks who do solar systems (that would be a Z) and fuel cells (that would be an L) are pretty happy they can start to ramp up business again. To repeat, this is just commercial (residential has its own thing), and it will be run by the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (and that’s new, too).

3. The Connecticut General Assembly now has a Long Island Sound Caucus. That was announced Wednesday. Rep. Lonnie Reed, D-Branford, is the force behind it. It has a 12-member bipartisan steering committee evenly divided between the House and Senate. Committee members have given themselves a long to-do list, but not everyone on that steering committee always sees eye-to-eye. Stay tuned.

4. There have been a couple of task force/working groups announced: A task force for power line tree maintenance and a working group on recycling — specifically, how to increase it. Both are likely coming to a street and trash can near you.

5. And Lead By Example, a program to get state facilities way more energy efficient than they are, ramped up a few notches this week. The state now has an agreement with an energy monitoring company to look at energy use in 100 state buildings so their managers can identify ways to cut energy use. And LBE also unveiled plans for performance contracting assistance for municipalities. Performance contracts allow facility owners to use the savings realized through energy efficiency retrofits to pay for the work. The state plans to provide legal and other blueprints for municipalities so they don’t have to figure it all out themselves.