Thomas Gehrke
Katie Dykes, the commissioner of DEEP mark pazniokas / ctmirror.org

The state’s commissioner of energy and environmental protection said Wednesday that Connecticut is being forced to invest in natural gas plants it doesn’t want or need.

Katie Dykes’ comments on the future of Connecticut’s energy policy were made during a forum at Trinity College, and they come as the legislature prepares to convene next month. Speaking to a crowd at the Connecticut League of Conservation Voters, Dykes said a “lack of leadership” at ISO New England, which oversees the regional power grid, is hindering the state’s fight against climate change.

“We are at the mercy of a regional capacity market that is driving investment in more natural gas and fossil fuel power plants that we don’t want and we don’t need,” Dykes said. “This is forcing us to take a serious look at the cost and benefits of participating in the ISO New England markets.”

The department has scheduled a meeting on the issue for Wednesday, Jan. 22.

Dykes’ comments come amid a fight over a new natural gas electricity plant in Killingly, which was greenlit by ISO New England — and by state siting officials.

In an emailed statement, ISO spokesperson Matt Kakley took issue with Dykes’ critique. He said the Killingly plant won approval in a recent power auction but added that “securing an obligation in our market does not mean that a resource will be built.”

“The states control what is built in their states, and new [plant] owners must meet the environmental and siting requirements of the state in which they are trying to build,” Kakley said. “The ISO has no jurisdiction over those decisions. In this case, it was the Connecticut DEEP and other agencies who approved the permits for the plant.”

Connecticut’s Siting Council approved the Killingly project in June of last year. The DEEP also wrote a letter in support. Opponents of the plant have staged protests throughout the state, and last September they sued to block its approval.

Kakley also questioned the feasibility of Connecticut exiting a multistate energy market that dates to the late 1990s.

“If any one state seeks to cease participating … it raises a host of complex questions that have yet to be answered,” Kakley said. “The markets … were designed as part of a multistate regional framework and were not set up with carve-out provisions. In addition to changes to the ISO tariff, the states would need to determine what changes to their own laws would be required, as well as the impact of such a move on any existing contracts they may have.”

Connecticut’s legislature convenes on Feb. 5.

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9 Comments

  1. According to the US Energy Information Administration (eia.gov), CT has the 4th highest electric rates in the nation, behind Alaska, Hawaii, and Mass. We pay 75% more than the national average.
    So do whatever you have to do to get more capacity. Would renewable energy sources be cheaper than the proposed gas plant? Figure it out!
    Wouldn’t it be an awesome success story for CT to only pay 70% above the national average?
    But no, I’m sure whatever decision is made will end up costing us more.

    1. I can imagine what these costs would be like if they committed to 100% renewable. It might be unbearable for all of us. I heard this same survey as well. Amazing that 2 small New England states rank that high. This is the problem of being far from the resource of production. I think they are expecting us to go to the five and dime & buy batteries & this is the heart of the cost.

  2. In other words, if we exit ISO we should be ready to pay a lot more for electricity. We’ll need additional plants and those additional plants will produce electricity how? As if our DEEP has some secret sauce on how to produce electricity that no one else does. Maybe we’ll have a massive windmill farm on top of Avon Mountain where we’ll see giant structures standing still as there isn’t enough wind. Maybe DEEP is wanting more nuclear plants. This is all about being politically correct and devoid of practicability.

  3. To be candid, Ms Dykes performed horribly in her tenure as Head of PURA. Her leadership left State of Connecticut Utility Customers with some of the highest rates in the country. So, what would be the effect on utility pricing if we were to break free from the current NE ISO Agreement? If the answer is higher utility rates; she should be removed from her position as expeditiously as possible.

  4. If leaving the ISO drives the cost of electricity higher then this is a non-starter and a CEM (Career Ending Move) by anyone that supports it. If it drives costs down then it will be overwhelming welcomed, maybe we need a little move data on that, anyone?

  5. Energy is a requirement for Connecticut’s residents and businesses, including low cost and plentiful natural gas. Our liberal Democrat representatives need to leave their wacko DNC driven “green” party platform behind, in favor of the needs of the residents and businesses they are supposed to represent. Someday there’s going to be cleaner options but we need to survive until then!

  6. Leadership most definitley. I’m all for all players being part of the marketplace in energy-not pick winners & losers. A one size fits all approach never really works. What lawmakers don’t anticipate is what costs would be for each household on this renewable energy. The basic problem is energy storage. As we know batteries are pretty expensive so when we speak of solar storage or car battery storage we are talking about astronomical costs. Renewables could supplement the grid but i don’t think they can power the whole grid without turning everyone’s life upside down with costs. It should also be up to the homeowner & car-owner as to what they want to do individually in their household. And in sum, this lady has bought into the climate alarmism nonsense. The sun powers the climate, not a gas. If you want to make some supplemental changes to take stress off the grid or get a better handle on pollutants like mercury or sulfur fine.

  7. Simply bailing out of ISO is short-term thinking that would create market chaos without discernible long-term benefits. It is true that we (not just CT) must vastly reduce our dependence on fossil fuels quickly or what we’ll be paying in a decade or so for natural disasters as well as energy will be beyond conceivable.

    In CT, DEEP has been an impediment to restructuring power distribution that is necessary to implementing economically viable alternatives to fossil fuels such as community solar. Ms. Dykes has, thus far, failed to present a vision of a viable power generation and distribution system that would make addition natural gas facilities, wherever located, unnecessary.

    The notion that electric power in CT already is too expensive, and therefore, we are unwilling to pay more is a prescription for astronomical future bills. Investing today in the power system of tomorrow probably will be expensive, but failing to do so will be far more costly.

  8. Can anyone describe the actual benefits we receive from ISO New England? I know that they don’t produce electricity and I think that they do no distribution nor transmission. To my knowledge, they just act as the referee to match production with consumption.
    How much do Connecticut ratepayers pay to ISO NE every year?

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