Connecticut, once a national leader in clean and renewable energy and energy efficiency, has slipped behind many other states, including its neighbors. Most of the finger-pointing is at the state’s budget problems and questionable choices by the legislature. But the state may have started to lose its energy edge before then. The question is, can it get it back?
A national campaign by the nuclear industry to stabilize profits in a volatile energy market scored a victory Friday night with the unanimous passage of bipartisan legislation changing the rules for procuring electricity in Connecticut, a state heavily reliant on nuclear power.
The economic viability of the Millstone nuclear station in Waterford, the largest power plant in New England and a crucial factor in Connecticut’s commitment to reduce greenhouse gases, is about to become a major issue in Hartford.
With a packed audience of lobbyists waiting and watching, a legislative committee approved three dozen bills Tuesday that define the General Assembly’s relatively modest ambitions on energy policy in 2015. The more significant bills would ban variable electric rates for residential customers, cap the fixed-costs portion of electric bills and authorize state officials to explore expanding the supply of natural gas in Connecticut.
A new push to ban variable electric rates is a tacit admission by key legislators that a 2014 consumer protection law was insufficient to protect customers against bait-and-switch marketing by some of the electric retailers who compete with United Illuminating and Connecticut Light & Power, now known as Eversource Energy.
House Speaker J. Brendan Sharkey, D-Hamden, changed the leadership of a half-dozen committees Friday as he named Rep. Jeff Berger of Waterbury as the new co-chair of the Finance, Revenue and Bonding Committee and Rep. William Tong of Stamford to lead the Judiciary Committee.