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.
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