Connecticut lawmakers target successful energy efficiency program in effort to plug budget hole
“The RGGI cut is terrible but the energy efficiency program cut would be catastrophic,” said Bill Dornbos, Connecticut state director at the Acadia Center, a clean energy advocacy organization.
This is not Connecticut’s first try at raiding the state’s energy efficiency programs program, doing so successfully in 2003 and 2009. “When something like this happens, contractors and vendors leave Connecticut and go to neighboring states that have strong, fully-funded energy efficiency programs, like Massachusetts and Rhode Island,” Dornbos said. “After two years — and there is no certainty that the money will come back then — we will have to rebuild the program structure.”
“The Senate Republican proposal is a reflection of the new political dynamic,” Dornbos says. “I think [because of] the power sharing agreement in the Senate, proposals from either side should be taken seriously.”
Other states have used RGGI revenue to help plug general budget shortfalls, New York and New Jersey among them, according to Jordan Stutt, a policy analyst with Acadia. “The RGGI [memorandum of understanding] requires all participating states to use at least 25 percent of their auction revenue for consumer benefit or strategic energy purposes, and [Connecticut’s] proposed sweep of RGGI funds would clearly violate that provision,” he explained.
Energy efficiency also pays for itself. Every $1 invested in energy efficiency will save $3.89 in utility bills, according to the Acadia Center. Dornbos said that, over the next two years, the proposed cuts could leave an estimated 24,000 low-income households “without any good solution for how to handle their energy bills.”
“RGGI helps expand customer access to Connecticut’s high-quality energy efficiency programs,” he said. “If we lose RGGI revenue, the energy efficiency programs will have to serve fewer customers. Connecticut will be turning its back on some of the neediest households.”
Read the full article from ThinkProgress here.