Many solar installers in Connecticut forecasted growth in the industry was hinging on the approval of an energy bill that was introduced last year. After being passed by large margins in the House and Senate, the legislation was eventually vetoed by Governor Jodi Rell, citing that the bill was introduced so late in the session that it “was disrespectful to those who honestly desired to read and deliberate the bill’s provisions” and expressed “deep concerns that the measure would raise utility rates for consumers – not reduce them, as bill sponsors claim.”
Energy reform encouraged support for energy efficiency and alternative power sources, including solar energy, wind energy, and fuel cells. There were many specific provisions related to solar. In fact, Environment Connecticut predicted that these alone would create 300 MW of installed solar capacity statewide. The legislation introduced a Solar Renewable Energy Credit (SREC) market into the state. An SREC program in Connecticut could drastically change the economics of an energy project. Just to give you an example, SRECs were introduced in Massachusetts last year and cut the payback of a solar electric investment in half.
The legislation also called for an overhaul of the Department of Public Utility Control which would bring together all state offices dealing with energy policy under one administration renamed the Connecticut Energy and Technology Authority. It’s most controversial mandate was a 15 percent reduction in the state’s electric utility rates by 2012. Right now, Connecticut has the highest electricity rates in the domestic United States and this change would have put consumers at the same rates as neighboring states.
Even with disapproval that it was too substantial and all-encompassing, the bill will go back in front of lawmakers mostly as-is. After removing one provision about separate billing for energy retailers and utilities, retailer suppliers broke from the opposition and are now behind energy reform. Governor Dan Malloy is known to be a proponent of renewable energy technologies. As Mayor of Stamford, Malloy supervised the first municipal solar installation in Connecticut. The new governor also mentioned he would have signed the above Senate Bill into law if he was in his post last year, although he hasn’t commented on supporting the legislation in coming months.
2011 is going to be a great year for solar energy in Connecticut, and it will only get better if SREC legislation is signed into law. Although SRECs are not currently available in the state, solar power generators can earn some money selling Class I Renewable Energy Credits (RECs). Brightstar Solar, a licensed Connecticut solar installer, can provide a complimentary evaluation to determine if solar energy would be a viable option for your home or business in Connecticut. If you decide to move forward, our company will help you complete the necessary paperwork to maximize available incentives for your project. Please contact us today to schedule your free solar evaluation.