On second try, renewable energy bill wins final passage

A well-traveled renewable energy bill that pitted environmentalists and consumer activists against erstwhile legislative allies and the administration of Gov. Dannel P. Malloy won final passage Tuesday in the Senate on a 26-6 vote. The governor is expected to sign the bill.

The bill was originally passed by the Senate on May 1, then revised a week ago by the House on a 112-33 vote and returned to the Senate. Passage came after a perfunctory debate.

The environmental community and power generators objected to the original, and they didn’t applaud the final version. They complained it still weakens Connecticut’s commitment to creating a market for renewable energy by allowing the well-established hydro-electric power to meet its renewable portfolio standard.

The legislation redefines the state’s Renewable Portfolio Standard, which requires electric companies to rely on renewable sources for an increasing percentage of their power, reaching a maximum of 20 percent in 2020.

The administration says the bill creates competitive pressure on wind, solar and other renewable energy producers by giving the state greater flexibility to meet those goals by adding large-scale hydro-electric power to the mix.

Critics say that is a gift to HydroQuebec and to Northeast Utiliies, which has proposed a transmission line to deliver more hydro-power from Canada to southern New England.

The revised bill reduces from 20 to 15 years the maximum terms of contrracts with large-scale hydro facilities, and it limits the amount of power that can be purchased from frm them.

It requres a new request for proposals before hydro power can be purchased as part of the Renewable Portfolio Standard.