Connecticut has been a leader in advancing clean energy and climate goals in the Northeast. In 2018, Connecticut set a target of reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 45% by 2030 and 80% by 2050, and Governor Lamont’s 2019 executive order mandates that Connecticut’s electricity sector reach zero emissions by 2040. Acadia Center has played a leading role in advancing climate and energy reforms in the state and is integrally involved with all clean energy efforts as Connecticut seeks to meet its climate goals.
Energy Efficiency & Buildings
Since 1998, Connecticut’s energy efficiency programs have helped small and large businesses, homeowners and renters, and state and local governments reduce their energy use and costs in all of Connecticut’s 169 towns. Since the Energize Connecticut program began in 2012, it’s saved approximately 30 million MWh (equivalent to one year of the whole state’s electricity demand) and created billions of dollars in benefits for Connecticut ratepayers.
Through the Connecticut Energy Efficiency Board, stakeholders from diverse backgrounds work with the electric and gas utilities to create programs to increase energy efficiency, our least-cost energy resource. Acadia Center worked to pioneer the innovative stakeholder efficiency council model in Connecticut, then spread the example across the region. Acadia Center staff have held a seat on the Energy Efficiency Board since its founding, and currently serve as Vice Chair of the Board and Chair of the Residential Committee. Our work on efficiency in Connecticut focuses on ensuring that everyone can participate in the programs, especially lower-income residents and seniors, who spend a much higher percentage of their income on energy and can most benefit from efficiency upgrades.
Connecticut has set a goal of weatherizing 80% of its homes by 2030, yet 23% of homes are currently ineligible for the state’s weatherization and efficiency programs due to “health and safety barriers” such as mold, asbestos or vermiculite, and knob and tube wiring, which are rampant in older housing stock. Yet the housing with such health and safety barriers is usually the most in need of weatherization and treatment by the programs to address their old and leaky spaces.
In 2013, Acadia Center co-authored a study on health and safety barriers and created a series of recommendations. Through a position as Vice Chair of the Energy Efficiency Board (EEB) in Connecticut, Acadia Center was able to keep this issue as a top concern and over the past year, Acadia Center staff worked extensively with the Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (DEEP) to organize two workshops to discuss the issue of health and safety barriers. One idea that emerged from these workshops is to use federal funds from the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) to address health and safety remediations in targeted homes. Acadia Center asked DEEP to reach out to the Department of Social Service (DSS) to enable this policy change, and in early April, the LIHEAP board voted to allow $2M in funding to address these barriers, beginning in January 2022. This is the first time that LIHEAP funds have been allocated towards health and safety barriers, hopefully setting a precedent that can be followed for years to come.
Acadia Center advocates for transportation policy reforms in Connecticut that reduce emissions, improve transportation choices and equitably address the pollution issues affecting vulnerable populations that have been caused by current transportation systems. Connecticut is a member of the Transportation and Climate Initiative (TCI) and Acadia Center helped found the Connecticut TCI Coalition. The coalition works with a variety of stakeholders such as environmental and energy advocates, environmental justice organizations, and the business community and raises awareness about TCI through webinars, opinion pieces, and analysis developed by Acadia Center and partners.
Acadia Center is pushing Connecticut to go above and beyond the terms of the regional agreement by strengthening equity provisions and dedicating more of the funds raised by the TCI program to be invested in the state’s overburdened and underserved communities. Early modeling projects that TCI could save Connecticut over $360 million in public health costs annually by 2032; if implemented equitably, most of those health benefits will occur in the communities hardest-hit by transportation pollution.
Acadia Center also serves on the newly created Connecticut Hydrogen and Electric Automobile Purchase Rebate (CHEAPR) Board, which is working on designing the state’s new electric vehicle incentive program.
Acadia Center works collaboratively to reduce gas expansion in Connecticut. In 2020, Connecticut staff published a report titled “The Declining Role of Natural Gas Power in New England” that analyzed energy scenarios to show that demand for natural gas in the power sector, even under business as usual conditions, is projected to decline dramatically by the next decade. According to the report, New England’s reliance on natural gas to fuel power plants could drop from 45% to approximately 10% of its electricity needs in 2030, making any investment in new gas pipelines or plants a wasteful and unnecessary investment. As Connecticut moves ahead into a new legislative session, Acadia Center will address potential strategies for making natural gas a thing of the past and move forward with clean energy alternatives.
Clean Power & Utility Innovation
Acadia Center has long advocated for policies and programs to expand clean energy in the state, working on the state’s first Renewable Portfolio Standard that requires utilities to purchase minimum amounts of qualifying clean energy, and setting up the state’s first green energy investment fund. Acadia Center continues to work with coalitions and partners to advance clean energy. Acadia Center was a leader in working to pass the legislation that allowed for the first purchase of offshore wind power in 2017 by the utilities that serve Connecticut and building coalitions to successfully support increased purchases of offshore wind. In 2020, Connecticut legislature approved the purchase of offshore wind power that will be equivalent to 14% of the state’s energy needs. Acadia Center is also working to ensure that homeowners, businesses and communities have access to clean energy. We work to support solar net metering – a program that gives credits to consumers when they contribute energy to the grid from their own solar panels – and related programs that are helping building owners install solar power on-site and building a solar power industry in the state.
- Board member of Energy Efficiency Board – Vice Chair
- Residential Committee of the Energy Efficiency Board- Chairperson
- Board member of the CHEAPR Program
- Board member of Operation Fuel
- Coalition member of the TCI Coalition
- Participating in the PURA Dockets and DEEP Dockets addressing Utility Innovation
- Coalition member of the CT RENEW