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Connecticut’s Energy Strategy Rankles Some

February 27, 2013 By Linda Hardesty

After four months of public scrutiny and comment on a draft plan, Connecticut Gov. Dannel Malloy released the final version of the state’s first Comprehensive Energy Strategy (CES), outlining a plan that, among other things, calls for a more diverse portfolio of fuels, particularly for natural gas.

The CES, contained in a 200-plus-page document, is also the culmination of energy legislation passed by the General Assembly in 2011. First unveiled in draft form last fall at a CBIA energy conference, the strategy integrates energy, environmental, and economic goals to address Connecticut’s needs.

Release of the CES follows more than 1,000 formal comments submitted to the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection, the state’s lead agency on drafting the strategy. Since its release, the CES has been generally well received at the legislature, with the Energy and Technology Committee likely to support a variety of implementation measures. However, many Connecticut oil dealers remain concerned and skeptical about the plan’s proposed expansion of natural gas infrastructure and consumption.

On a tour around Connecticut to announce the plan, Malloy called on utility companies to build 900 new miles of natural gas lines in the state and offer customers the option to switch their energy consumption to natural gas, according to Yale Daily News. The governor’s plan also includes a proposal to offer a $500 tax credit to customers who make the switch to natural gas.

Among opponents to the plan are home heating-oil dealers who say the expansion of natural gas infrastructure is too costly. Malloy’s administration has attempted to alleviate this complaint by putting the cost on utility companies. Others oppose the expansion of natural gas in the state because of environmental concerns about fracking as well as the continued reliance on fossil fuel.

Besides natural gas, the final version of the plan emphasizes cybersecurity and virtual net metering and sub-metering policies. It also includes matrixes for measuring the strategy’s effectiveness, relative to the governor’s goals, as it is implemented. And the plan aims to move away from state- or ratepayer-subsidized energy efficiency and clean energy initiatives to a finance-focused model in which the state’s role is to encourage more private-sector investment.

Now the task is to put into action key components of the CES. Public hearings on bills related to the strategy are expected the first week of March. Some aspects of the plan require legislative approval before they go into effect, while others can be implemented through executive action, according to Yale Daily News.



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