Saunders: Needleman’s Energy Plan Places Heavy Burden on Consumers

State Senate candidate Brendan Saunders


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Like many of the families I seek to represent in the 33rd Senate District, I was shocked and upset by the recent steep Eversource rate hike. I’m concerned that the politicians are now attempting to divert voters’ attention from the real causes for this increase. I believe that Eversource isn’t entirely responsible.

Much of the blame goes to incumbent State Senator Norm Needleman, chairman of the Energy and Technology Committee. I consider that his recent demand for the resignation of the company’s CEO is simply smoke and mirrors and that this pointless blustering does nothing to solve a
problem he helped to create.

In 2019 my opponent led the campaign to pass Public Act No. 19-35, “An Act Concerning a Green Economy and Environmental Protection.”

This bill added additional expensive mandates to measures established in 2018’s Senate Bill 9 “An Act Concerning Connecticut’s Energy Future.” The 2018 legislation mandated that the utilities increase their purchase of expensive and unreliable renewable energy from 17% of all energy in consumed in Connecticut, to 40% by 2030.

One year later, as chair of the Energy and Technology Committee, State Senator Needleman proudly declared that “he was happy to be at the forefront of moving our state forward into a Green Economy”.

My opponent knows that his dream for a green economy comes with a hefty price tag for Connecticut residents. Unlike most of us, as a multi-millionaire, he can easily afford these rate hikes.

A Fiscal Note is attached to each piece of legislation outlining the costs associated with the bill. The Fiscal Note for HB 5002 clearly states that the Bill “may increase costs to electric ratepayers”, and that “the various requirements and costs placed on electric distribution companies may be recovered by increasing rates on customers.”

In other words, State Senator Needleman was willing to let his constituents bear the financial burden for his “green dream” or was too distracted by his CEO and first selectman responsibilities to notice.

In a recent mailer to the district’s residents, Needleman touts his two initiatives: developing offshore wind generation and transitioning the state to carbon-free energy. He states that he made a “substantial investment” to make New London the East Coast’s premier wind power port.

What he does not state is that his windmill legislation committed the state to fund a $93 million dollar upgrade to the state pier in New London. At the time of this writing, a private-public partnership has been established whereby taxpayers are on the hook for $36 million of this upgrade.

He also does not state that his legislation coerced Eversource into investing in windmills with the understanding that they can make up losses they might incur on the supply side by raising distribution rates.

The fact remains that aggressive carbon reduction comes at a hefty price tag; one the average Connecticut resident cannot –and should not have to—pay for.

State Senator Needleman is enacting the state’s stringent Renewable Energy
Portfolio standards while ignoring energy from low or no-carbon sources, and energy related infrastructure, such as gas pipelines and transmission lines. According to the Yankee Institute, this drives up cost and is the reason why Connecticut electricity rates rank among the highest in the United States.

We all want to be good stewards of our environment, but we need a plan that doesn’t put such a heavy burden on the consumer.

Brendan Saunders is running for State Senate of the 33rd district in November. The 33rd District encompasses the towns of Chester, Clinton, Colchester, Deep River, East Haddam, East Hampton, Essex, Haddam, Lyme, Old Saybrook, Portland, and Westbrook.