In naming Katie Dykes as commissioner of the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection, Gov.-elect Ned Lamont has chosen a person who is well known at DEEP. But she comes with much more of an energy than strict environmental background.
Provisions in the Connecticut Comprehensive Energy Strategy that would drastically limit the number of solar systems people and businesses can put on their roofs and could change the payment structure for excess electricity those systems generate have riled the state’s solar industry and those who support it.
Regardless of what the Connecticut legislature decides on Millstone, it won’t change some basic realities: One day the nuclear plant will close, and Connecticut doesn’t have a plan for that. The question of how to replace Millstone elicits all kinds of ideas. But parameters matter: Are we talking short-term, long-term, cleanly, at what cost to ratepayers?
With TV ads and ferocious lobbying on both sides of the issue, it’s unclear whether any legislation to help out the Millstone Nuclear Power Station will survive this legislative session. A delay in the release of an updated state energy strategy isn’t helping matters.
Two well-intentioned environmental polices – one encouraging more renewable power and the other the preservation of farms and forestland – are colliding. They are pitting farmer against farmer and environmental interest groups against one another, putting state departments at odds, and raising the always explosive issue of private property rights versus state policy.
The three-year update to Connecticut’s Comprehensive Energy Strategy, underway now, faces dramatically changed energy, environmental and political landscapes that raise questions about whether the first strategy, with its focus on natural gas, may have partially wasted the last three years.
The raid on the Green Bank and other clean energy programs to help plug the state’s huge budget deficit is bringing together groups often at odds. Environmentalists and business interests, including the state’s most prominent business lobby, agree the raid is a bad idea.
Connecticut’s shared solar pilot program has already missed its first deadline and faces even more delays. In the meantime, arguments over how to pay for clean energy are bubbling up again.
Another winter, another warning from the folks who run the power grid that natural gas shortages could cause power problems. The warning once again focuses all eyes on natural gas pipelines – viewed as either a big answer to the region’s power difficulties or a big problem, depending on whom you talk to.
For those pursuing energy and environmental initiatives, this legislative session was already heading toward half-a-loaf results before the budget impasse erupted. In the end there were big wins, big losses and everything in between.
For the second year in a row, legislation to allow shared-solar installations to be built in Connecticut is facing a rough road. While some want to go slowly with only a couple of pilot projects, others want to plunge right in based on the models and success shared solar is having around the country. The goal for advocates is to avoid last year’s result, which was nothing.
Nearly four years after Connecticut’s independent utility regulatory body became part of the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection, the regulators are asking for their independence back.