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Environmental Advocates Regroup After House Diverts Energy Efficiency Funds

Dozens of environmental groups, including the Acadia Center, signed a letter that was sent to state lawmakers Wednesday expressing their concerns about the scoop of energy efficiency funding, which is about 10 percent of the total funds collected for the programs.

Niedowski said the funds for Rhode Island’s energy efficiency programs are collected from electricity ratepayers. She said the state needs to keep using that money for its intended purpose.

“If you divert those ratepayers’ funds to another purpose, that essentially amounts to an energy tax because this money is collected from ratepayers and then would be transferred and used for other purposes,” Niedowski said.

Niedowski said Rhode Island has been a leader in energy efficiency, but that could change if funding for those programs is cut.

“The less energy efficiency we do here in Rhode Island will make it more difficult and (maybe even impossible) to reach our climate goals in the state,” Niedowski said.

Read and listen to the full story from Rhode Island Public Radio here.

Advocates say cutting Connecticut energy efficiency funds a mistake

William Dornbos, Connecticut director and senior attorney at Acadia Center, said Wednesday that the proposal by Senate Republicans to divert $160 million annually from the state’s energy efficiency programs over the next two years “would effectively end Connecticut’s energy efficiency programs for the next two years, and perhaps beyond.”

“Cost-effective energy efficiency is at the center of any modern clean energy strategy, and so this troubling cut would be a needless step backwards for Connecticut, almost certainly crippling the emerging clean energy economy that will be so crucial to our future.” Dornbos said.

The cut being proposed by Republicans represents a two-thirds reduction from current funding levels, he said.

That kind of funding reduction would eliminate incentives available to homeowners to have energy audits done. About 40 companies do the audits around the state, Dornbos said, and “if vendors and contractors have less work, they will begin laying off staff, selling equipment, and losing trained technicians to nearby states with strong, well-funded energy efficiency programs.”

“With previous raids on the energy efficiency programs, we have seen major disruption and job losses in the home performance and efficiency contractor sectors that lingers well past the raids and takes years to overcome,” he said.

Dornbos projected that job reductions attributable to funding cuts in energy efficiency programs could top 12,000 workers in Connecticut. Over time, the cuts might result in the loss of another 28,000 jobs as a result of a reduction in consumers using disposable income created through energy efficiency efforts.

Beyond the jobs that will likely be lost, Connecticut residents of modest means will be more likely to see their energy bills rise if efficiency programs are drastically cut, he said.

“It would deprive many consumers — especially residents with low or fixed incomes — of their best protection against high energy costs,” Dornbos said.

Read the full article from the New Haven Register here.