Thursday, December 31, 2009

DPUC approves CL&P and UI rate changes

CL&P residential customers: -5.2%
CL&P small/med business: -4.6%
CL&P big industrial: +10.2%
UI customers: 0%

UI says increases in distribution charges are offset by corresponding decreases in generation charges.

All CT electric customers can select other options for the generation portion of the bill. Click here for a current list of providers and rates. The list also shows what portion of your energy comes from renewable sources (up to 100%).

Friday, November 20, 2009

PSEG makes nice with New Haven for new peaking plant

PSEG is planning to install three 40MW natural gas-fired "peaking" plants on their existing site in New Haven's East Shore neighborhood. After a series of negotiations with community groups, they have agreed to a plan that promises to reduce net emissions in the area. This includes a half-million dollar program to retrofit city trucks with particulate filters. PSEG has also promised to reduce output from the much larger and dirtier oil plant (formerly one of the sooty six) for a net reduction while the peaking plants are running.

According to a joint press release:
The final agreement, reached after three months of negotiation, will supply the state grid with sufficient power while creating a net reduction in air pollution. Terms of the agreement include the existing, older diesel-powered New Haven Harbor Station using more natural gas instead of diesel to produce power, reducing plant idling time from 14 hours to 12 hours, and contributing $500,000 to the new East Shore Air Quality Account – a fund to be used to further reduce pollution in the area through initiatives such as retrofitting garbage trucks with particulate filters. These reductions will more than offset emissions from the new peaking plants that are being built.
Click here for the press release (via

Thursday, October 8, 2009

87% of CT is paying too much for electricity

It's been more than a decade since deregulation gave Connecticut electricity customers the right to choose an electricity provider. For many of those years, there was little or no choice but now, with utility rates in the stratosphere, there are many alternatives with lower rates. You can even get a 100% renewable energy option for LESS than the utility's standard rate.

Click here to see all the choices you have. To see your monthly savings, look at the total kWh on your bill and enter that number in the field near the top that says "Estimated monthly svings are based on...".

Most of these allow you to sign up on line. Be careful as some have contracts with cancellation fees. Also, some are variable rates, so you may want to keep up to date with the going rates and be ready to switch.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Clearing up facts on CFLs

Please read my letter to the editor, published in the New Haven Register. Because there were a few editing snafus in the print version, I am posting the original below.

Here is the published letter.

Dear Editor

I am responding to the New Haven Register's recent Editorial about energy efficiency legislation and light bulb technology. Take what side you will on the legislation, but please get the facts straight. First, compact fluorescent lamps (CFLs) cost less than incandescents -- both at the counter and on your electric bill. A CFL is rated to last about eight times longer than an incandescent in the same application. For equivalent life, incandescent bulbs will total $.25x8=$2 at the counter. That's twice as expensive as the $1 CFLs I recently purchased. More significantly, efficient CFLs offer much higher savings through an immediate reductions on your electricity bill. At today's electric rates, each 60W bulb replaced with an equivalent CFL can save more than $70 over the life of the bulb.

The claim that CFLs emit less light is simply not true. Light output, measured in "lumens", can be found right on the package. Just select an output to meet your needs. You will find ratings to match equivalent incandescents. If you like the yellow color of incandescents, try a "soft white" CFL and/or use an appropriate lampshade. There have been improvements in this area so give it another go if you have been turned off in the past.

Most importantly, the notion that any incandescent can possibly compete with a CFL in terms of efficiency is laughable. An incandescent bulb is a resistance heater that sheds a little light in the process: for every 10 Watts of electricity in, 9 are shed as heat and 1 converted to visible light. The Phillips bulb referenced in your article has gained a respectable 30 percent in efficiency over a standard bulb. However, a typical CFL is 700 percent more efficient than an incandescent (10W input = 7W light + 3W heat). Is there really any contest here?

If you oppose CFL legislation because you don't like being told what to buy then so be it. But please don't throw money down the toilet because of myths and misinformation.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Free energy audits still available for UI customers

UI offers "free" energy audits and energy-related improvements to many households within their customer base. The program is administered by United Illuminating and is funded by a state-mandated charge on your electric bill.

For more information on UI's program,
Call 877-WISE-USE

CL&P customers are offered a similar program (click here).

Thursday, June 18, 2009

More biodiesel coming to New Haven port

Innovation Fuels has plans to expand distribution operations into New Haven. The New Jersey-based company hopes to move about 12 million gallons per year through New Haven's port. The fuel will then be distributed throughout the region via rail and truck.

In tandem with the recent news that Greenleaf Buiofuels is building a production facility in the same neighborhood, New Haven is shaping up to be a regional epicenter for the renewable fuel.

Click here for a previous post on Greenleaf's production plans
Click here and here for more info on Innovation Fuel's distribution plans

Friday, June 12, 2009

Stimulus $$ for CT energy projects

$25 million is available for energy and conservation projects in CT. $15 million in grants directly through the DOE and another $10 million to be distributed by the state. Luther Turmelle reports here.

Friday, June 5, 2009

Mass give go-ahead to Cape Wind project

454 MW of clean, renewable energy coming to a grid near you. This will be the first offshore wind farm in the United States and one of the largest in the world (though larger ones are on the drawing board). Way to go Mass!


Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Last day to support CT Solar bill

Today is the day to call your rep and ask him or her to support bill SB6635. Among other things, the effort would help use solar to reduce summer peak loads. While widespread solar power usage might still be a relatively small portion of regional generation, solar works best in the blaring hot days where peak consumption threatens blackouts. The price of electricity on the pot market shoots up thousands of percent on these days, making solar generation a dollar-smart investment. Even UI is supporting the bill.

Advocates hoping for Senate OK of solar power bill (New Haven Register)
Click here to contact your Senator (via Clean Water Action)

More details from Roger Smith of Clean Water Action:
This bill provides stable funding for residential solar installations- no longer will households compete with large and expensive commercial solar installations for scarce funds
Without this bill there is no more commercial solar program for the foreseeable future in CT- that means no new solar systems on schools, town buildings, churches and businesses, and solar companies moving to states like MA and NJ with solar programs.
In addition to funding for solar on buildings, the bill allows for large freestanding solar installations on under-utilized lands like brownfields, landfills, parking lots, etc which aren't viable under current law.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Food-to-energy in Waterbury

A Mass group wants to turn former Brass plant (and current "brownfield") into a power plant fueled by food waste.  The plant would generate about 10 megawatts of electricity.  This is a respectable amount of power, though not large by industry standards.  For comparison, a typical fossil fuel plant which will produce several hundred or thousands of megawatts.  A large fuel cell power plant will produce several hundred kilowats or a few (<5) megawatts
Old Brass Mill In Waterbury Eyed For Food Waste Power Plant (Hartford Courant)
Praise and concerns from Waterbury blogger Bryan P. Baker

Monday, May 11, 2009

UI and politicians go head to head

How did I miss this one?

Blumenthal, DeStefano rip UI executives (New Haven Register)

While I can understand the mayor's frustration at UI vacating a good deal of corporate real estate, I don't understand his position regarding the English Station.  UI was required by law to sell that plant.  They also gave almost $2 million to Quinnipiac Energy to clean up the site.  Though QE apparently frittered away that money without cleaning up the site, UI is still on the hook for the cleanup.  If anyone should be mad it should be the shareholders who will have to pay for the cleanup twice.   What did Quinnipiac Energy do with the money?

For more information on this, please click here to read my previous post on this matter.

UPDATE:  Here is the relevant info from UI's latest SEC filing.
A site on the Mill River in New Haven was conveyed by UI in 2000 to an unaffiliated entity, Quinnipiac Energy LLC (QE), reserving to UI permanent easements for the operation of its transmission facilities on the site.  At the time of the sale, a fund of approximately $1.9 million, an amount equal to the then-current estimate for remediation, was placed in escrow for purposes of bringing soil and groundwater on the site into compliance with applicable environmental laws.  Approximately $0.1 million of the escrow fund remains unexpended.  QE has since sold the property to Evergreen Power, LLC (Evergreen Power) and Asnat Realty LLC (Asnat).  UI is unaware of what agreement was reached between QE and Evergreen Power and Asnat regarding future environmental liability or what remediation activity remains to be undertaken at the site.  UI could be required by applicable environmental laws to finish remediating any subsurface contamination at the site if it is determined that QE and/or Evergreen Power and Asnat have not completed the appropriate environmental remediation at the site. In July 2008, Evergreen Power and Asnat submitted a claim seeking compensation for environmental remediation on the property, including the existing building which remains on the site. Based upon the current status of the evaluation, UIL Holdings has not recorded a liability related to this claim in its Consolidated Balance Sheet as of March 31, 2009.

Friday, May 8, 2009

And the winner is...

Two Connecticut companies, Northeast Utilities and United Illuminating, are among eight finalists for the coveted Edison Award.  Both were chosen for work related transmission upgrades -- UI for the Singer substation and NU for various transmission lines.  Luther Turmelle has the story.  The Singer substation opened without a parade, but apparently it is the largest of its kind in North America.

I am at the edge of my seat here...

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Greenleaf to produce biofuel in New Haven

Greenleaf Biofuels, based in Guilford, CT, was awarded $1.3 million from the state of Connecticut to support a major biodiesel production facility in New Haven.  With 6.7 million gallons of renewable biodiesel pumping out every year (over 18,000 gallons per day), this will be one of the largest biodiesel facilities in the Northeast.   The plant will use waste oil as feedstock and is said to be a "next generation" facility.  Would love to hear more details.

West Hartford energy plan

Major props to West Hartford's Clean Energy Task Force for compiling a comprehensive energy plan that will save the town hundreds of thousands of dollars every year.  Let this serve as a model for all of Connecticut's municipalities.

Sunday, March 8, 2009

State Energy Authority

Dick Blumenthal makes a case for a state-owned energy authority in the Hartford Courant. I have to say, this sounds pretty good though I would love to hear a good rebuttal. One little item that irked me is that he questioned why electric rates didn't drop with fuel prices (as they did at the gas station after oil prices dropped).
If high oil and natural gas prices were the cause, electric rates should have fallen along with fuel prices. Rates have barely budged.
I think he is probably aware that our rates are based on long(ish)-term contracts that buffer sharp rises and dips in fuel costs. However, I do not deny that profit seeking middlemen are primary driver in our high costs.

As someone who thinks we need to use less energy, though, I have to say I am not as outraged by these prices as many others are. People are actually using less electricity. My bill is manageable because I do everything I can to conserve. People are kicking and screaming about the high rates, but is everyone really doing all they can to use less? Are they using air conditioners as soon the thermometer gets into the 70s? Still using incandescent bulbs? Leaving a large screen TV on all the time? I bet there's a lot more we can all do to make our electric bills more irrelevant.

Saturday, February 28, 2009

Energy funds could be raided

Every month, residents and businesses pay a few pennies into the state's Clean Energy and Conservation & Load Management funds. These funds help pay for not only clean energy generation, but programs that reduce the strain on our electric grid. Efficiency programs have helped residents, businesses and municipalities save millions of dollars above and beyond the initial investment.

The state legislature has rejected the Governor Rell's proposal to snatch money from these funds. Unfortunately, the fight to save these funds is not over. Please call your representatives and ask them not to touch the fund. Tempting as it is, this will actually cost us money in the long run as we neglect important investments in efficiency and infrastructure. Call your representatives, ask where they stand and voice your opinion on the matter.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Public Power Authority -- Public Hearing Tuesday, Feb 24

I've been asked to post the following press release regarding a Public Hearing for House Bill 6510 (AN ACT ESTABLISHING A PUBLIC POWER AUTHORITY). This authority will have the ... um,  authority to own and operate power generation facilities.   More answers below and you can read the bill by clicking right here.   

Energy and Technology Committee 
Tuesday, February 24, 2009 
1:00 PM in Room 2D of the LOB 

Connecticut Electric Authority

HB 6510 AA Establishing a Public Power Authority

What is a Connecticut Electric Authority? 
A Connecticut Electric Authority (CEA) is a quasi-public state agency responsible for lowering electricity costs to all consumers.  Currently, electricity regulation, system planning, electricity procurement and conservation are handled by numerous state agencies in a disjointed manner.   Under a CEA, a single state electricity “czar” would consolidate state efforts and reduce electricity rates. Rates would be reduced by expediting the transition from purchasing electricity based on the quirky Federal Energy Regulatory Commission market rules  to a cost-of-service system where consumers pay only for the cost of generating electricity and a reasonable profit.  A CEA should, over a period of years, reduce electricity rates up to 20%.  If the CEA can reduce rates by just 1 cent per kilowatt/hour, consumer electricity bills would be reduced by 5.5%, or $300 million.  This is a large rate of return on a $2 million CEA budget.

Why do we need a CEA? 
1.  We need one agency to purchase our electricity directly from generators. 
Connecticut’s electricity prices are the second highest in the continental U.S.  Our current system of purchasing electricity does not provide rate protection for consumers.    Federal electricity market rules skew upwards the price we pay for electricity.   A CEA will have the authority to plan and purchase electricity directly from generators, reducing long-term electricity costs for consumers.

2.  We need one agency to bolster electricity supply and promote renewable sources. 
When it would be beneficial for consumers, a CEA with bonding authority will be able to provide low-cost financing for new, highly efficient power plants to augment our existing fleet, replacing old, inefficient polluters.  A CEA with long-term contracting authority will then be able to negotiate low-cost electricity purchases from these new plants. 

3.  We need one agency to reduce demand for electricity. 
Reduced demand for electricity through the ‘grid’ system will reduce overall electricity prices.  Connecticut can reduce electricity costs through a focused approach to conservation.  We currently have numerous governmental entities funding conservation programs, but these efforts are not coordinated effectively for consumers.  A single agency with fully integrated conservation programs and a system to allow consumers to readily access comprehensive conservation assistance is the most effective way to reduce electricity demand and allow consumers to control their utility bills.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

UI Rate Hike Denied

UI's latest request to raise distribution charges has been denied by the DPUC.

State says lights out to UI rate hike (Luther Turmelle, New Haven Register)

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