Conn. Energy Rules Spark Clash With Green Groups

Connecticut FlagEnergy policies in Connecticut that are designed to promote multiple, competing sources of energy in a bid to drive down energy costs have set the Democratic administration and environmentalists – a traditionally Democratic support bloc – at loggerheads, reports the Associated Press.

Gov. Dannel Malloy selected former Yale professor of environmental law Daniel Esty as The Constitution State’s first commissioner of a merged energy and environment agency two years ago. The move was seen by green groups as a potential catalyst for high-profile renewable energy policies across the state, the AP reports.

But despite broad-based energy and environmental policy agreement between the Malloy administration and environmentalists, the Governor and Department of Energy & Environmental Protection chief’s adherence to business-based solutions has alienated groups that believe more direct government action is required.

The administration’s policies are moving away from tactics that protect solar and wind power from competition to promoting other forms of energy including large scale hydropower from Canada and natural gas.

“The old hammer to the industry, the so-called command and control regulation … has limited value in getting to the next stage of progress,” Esty said, the AP reports.

But such an approach has left some green groups frustrated.

‘‘I can’t use any other word but disappointed with the clean energy policies,’’ Roger Smith, Connecticut co-director of Clean Water Action, told the AP.

Environmentalists also charge that Malloy is insufficiently funding energy efficiency programs. William Dornbos, Connecticut director of Environment Northeast, told the AP that the state is falling behind its own goal to increase spending of energy efficiency from $105 million a year to $206 million.

Adding to the criticism is a more traditional Democratic rival, the Republican party. Connecticut GOP Chairman Jerry Labriola Jr. has castigated Etsy’s wife Rep. Elizabeth Esty, D-Conn., for accepting money from energy companies that are regulated by her husband’s agency.

Malloy unveiled his draft comprehensive energy strategy in October. The plan offers lower-cost natural gas options to more than 250,000 residents and 75 percent of businesses in the next seven years. It also reexamines the state’s renewable portfolio standards – which currently calls for 20 percent renewable power by 2020 – with an eye toward both raising the standard and increasing the mix of renewable options.

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