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State Senator

Bob Duff

Majority Leader

Representing Norwalk & Darien

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Contact: Adam Joseph
860-240-8641

June 5, 2013

Duff & Reed Win Final Passage of Comprehensive Energy Strategy Bill

Legislation will expand access to natural gas, promote energy efficiency and renewable energy

On Wednesday, State Senator Bob Duff (D-Norwalk), Senate Chairman of the Energy & Technology Committee, led a vote of 28 to 3 in the State Senate to approve legislation that will implement the provisions of Connecticut’s Comprehensive Energy Strategy.

Senator Duff and Rep. Lonnie Reed (D-Branford), House Chairman of the Energy Committee, said the bill sets Connecticut on a carefully considered path to cheaper, cleaner, more reliable energy.

“Energy is essential to our modern lives and critical to the health, competitiveness and future growth of our economy. For the first time, Connecticut now has a truly comprehensive energy strategy that looks at all fuels and energy sources in a holistic way. We are moving toward renewables while emphasizing efficiency and reliability, and working diligently to bring costs down. The result will truly mean cheaper, cleaner and more reliable energy in the years to come,” said Senator Duff.

“This new law joins other innovative energy initiatives we’ve passed this session that are designed to give consumers more choice and more control over their energy consumption than they have ever had before. They will now have more choice in the fuels they use to heat and cool their homes and businesses; more control through new products and programs to reduce energy use and provide significant savings. Consumers will also have more opportunities to take advantage of real renewables such as wind, solar and geothermal,” said Rep. Reed. “It’s been a successful session for Connecticut’s ratepayers and for consumers.”

Two years ago the legislature adopted Public Act 11-80, a sweeping reform of Connecticut’s energy policy, and created the Department of Energy & Environmental Protection (DEEP). The new department was then directed to lay out a comprehensive strategy for statewide energy policy, addressing all fuels, sources and conservation measures. Today’s legislation, House Bill 6360, begins the process of implementing the vision laid out in that strategy.

The bill targets greater energy efficiency in Connecticut’s homes and businesses by incentivizing weatherization and equipment upgrades. It promotes renewable energy through low-interest financing and advanced metering technology. It facilitates tree trimming to make our electric grid more reliable during major storms, and it makes converting to cleaner, cheaper natural gas an affordable proposition for hundreds of thousands of Connecticut homes and businesses.

Highlights of the legislation include:

Energy Efficiency

  • Requires electric and gas companies to develop a combined energy conservation plan with the Energy Conservation Management Board (ECMB). It may also address conserving water.
  • Eliminates a cap on home energy audits for those who heat with oil or other non-utility fuels.
  • Targets an existing DECD energy efficiency low interest loan program at lower income households by lowering income eligibility and increasing loan amounts.
  • Requires energy consumption benchmarking of state buildings.

Clean Energy

  • Establishes a program to finance residential clean energy improvements which reduce electricity, gas, oil, or propane usage (ex: a new furnace, boiler, or smart meter).
    • Initiative will be financed using private capital raised through the state’s green bank.
    • Loans may be repaid on the electric or gas bills of participating customers.
  • Broadens eligibility for “virtual net metering,” which provides a transferable billing credit to customers who generate renewable electricity. Credits may be applied to multiple electric accounts.
  • Allows submetering (landlords bill tenants directly for usage) at commercial, industrial and multi-family residential buildings where electricity is provided by a renewable energy or cogeneration.
  • Creates a pilot program to promote combined heat and power (cogeneration) systems by limiting the electric demand charge imposed on them.
  • Reduces the maximum sulfur content of heating oil from 3,000 ppm to 500 ppm until mid-2018 and 15ppm thereafter.

Natural Gas Expansion

  • Requires Connecticut’s natural gas companies to submit a plan to DEEP for review that will:
    • Expand natural gas infrastructure and promote cost-effective customer conversions.
    • Facilitate installation of efficient equipment and weatherization for converted buildings.
    • Provide natural gas access to industrial facilities.
  • Increases the payback period gas companies use to assess potential system expansions from 5 years (Yankee Gas) or 20 years (Connecticut Natural Gas and Southern Connecticut Gas) to 25 years

Telecommunications

  • Establishes a presumption that cellular services are needed in Siting Council proceedings.
  • Specifies conditions when telecommunications towers can be sited on water company lands.
    • Applicants must document why other tower sites were found unsuitable.
    • DPH commissioner must find that water quality and purity will not be harmed.

Utility Reliability

  • Expands the ability of electric and telecomm companies to trim trees and vegetation near their lines, so as to prevent falling limbs from causing power outages during severe weather.
  • Establishes standards for notice of trimming to tree owners by mail, hand-delivered written notice, or orally and in writing.
    • Creates a two-step appeal process for tree owners who object to trimming.

House Bill 6360 previously passed the House of Representatives on June 1st. It now proceeds to the desk of Governor Dannel P. Malloy, who is expected to sign it.

 

Press Contacts

Press Aide

Adam Joseph
860-240-8641

Mailing Address

Legislative Office Building
Room 3300
Hartford, CT 06106-1591

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www.SenatorDuff.cga.ct.gov

E-mail

Bob.Duff@cga.ct.gov

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