Miami Beach Faces Uncertain, Possibly Astronomical Costs With Purchase by Connecticut Water

OLD LYME – Connecticut Water is asking state regulators to approve its takeover of the small and troubled water system that serves the Miami Beach community, without resolving how much it will cost to bring the system up to par, and how the company will charge for the work. Miami Beach Water Company, launched in 1974 and today serving 65 year-round and 52 seasonal customers in the Miami Beach Association, has agreed to let Connecticut Water take over its operations to bring them back into compliance with state health regulations that have restricted some of its wells for being too

More

Lawyer For Affordable Housing Claims Discrimination by the Guilford

/

GUILFORD – An attorney representing the developer behind a proposed 100-unit apartment complex on Hubbard Road said the project is drawing unnecessary scrutiny from town wetlands officials because of the 30 proposed “affordable units.” Amy Blume, a New Haven-based attorney representing Connecticut Affordable Housing Initiative, told the Planning and Zoning Commission on Wednesday night that heightened scrutiny from the Inland Wetlands Commission, and requests from the town engineer that the developer build sidewalks don’t line up with how other developers and businesses have been treated in Guilford. Connecticut Affordable Housing Initiative, a company registered to James McMahon, is proposing to

More

Madison Inland Wetlands Okays Apartment Complex Over Neighbors’ Objections

MADISON – Despite an intervention from neighbors who warned the project could pollute a pond on site, the town’s Inland Wetlands Agency approved a permit for an 18-unit apartment complex near Hammonasset State Park on Monday night. The agency – voting 3-0 in favor of the proposal for Cottage and Mill Apartments at 35 Cottage Rd., with two members abstaining on the grounds that they weren’t involved in earlier meetings that discussed the project – decided that the developer’s proposal for native plantings and a stormwater management system would likely improve the water quality of the pond. The developer –

More

Old Lyme Opens Applications for COVID Funding to Local Businesses, Nonprofit and Boards

OLD LYME – The town is using its federal COVID relief money to fund two grant programs for small businesses and nonprofits that were impacted by the pandemic or have ideas for programs that can address COVID-related impacts on the community.  Applications for the Economic Recovery Grant for businesses and nonprofits that lost revenue and the Community Initiative Grant for businesses, nonprofits and local government boards and commissions are available on the town’s website, and are due by 4 p.m. on May 2.  Both grants will be funded with part of the $2.162 million Old Lyme received from the federal

More

Connecticut Lawmakers Vote Down Bill Allowing Hunting of Nuisance Black Bears

/

HARTFORD – Lawmakers voted down an effort to loosen restrictions on farmers whose crops, livestock and beehives have been damaged by wildlife – which would have allowed them to get state approval to kill black bears that are killing farm animals or damaging crops, something Connecticut farmers say is a growing issue. ‘Black bears have thrived in Connecticut’s restored woodlands, growing to an estimated population of 1,200. In mid-March, bears were spotted on camera entering a pig pen in New Milford, and those kinds of interactions with bears have increased dramatically in recent years. Black bears have become a part

More

Groton Town Council Votes Down Data Center Agreement

GROTON – In a tense meeting where councilors argued as much about procedure as they did data centers, the Groton Town Council voted to end negotiations with NE Edge over an agreement for a proposed large data center. NE Edge owner Thomas Quinn had been pushing the council for a quick vote on a Host Municipality Fee Agreement that would outline more that $3.5 million of taxes and payments the company would make to the town to develop two, 250,000-square-foot data centers just south of Interstate 95.  But Quinn reversed course late last week as public opposition mounted, and instead

More

Goff Puts Focus on Affordability in Run for State Senate Seat Held by Needleman

EAST HAMPTON – Brandon Goff enlisted in the U.S. Navy when he was 17, which took him to Washington state to work as a navigational electronics technician on the submarine USS Maine. After five years in Washington, Goff quickly found his way back and bought a house in East Hampton in 2019. He said he’s gained a deeper appreciation for how difficult it is to build a life in Connecticut since moving home.  Now, Goff is running as a Republican for the 33rd State Senate District seat – currently held by State Sen. Norm Needleman, D-Essex — which covers much

More

Far Short of Goals, Connecticut Cuts Short Subsidies for Natural Gas Hookups

State utility regulators are set to bring an early end to a controversial program that subsidizes customers to connect their homes and businesses to natural gas, finding that there has been far less interest in the program than expected, that the costs have risen dramatically, and that the environmental benefits are limited. The Public Utilities Regulatory Authority indicated in a draft decision issued last week that it will order the state’s three major natural gas providers – Avangrid-owned Connecticut Natural Gas and Southern Connecticut Gas, and Eversource-owned Yankee Gas – to stop enrolling customers in the System Expansion Plan after

More

Old Lyme Takes New Direction in Trash Collection, Opts Out of MIRA Contract

/

OLD LYME – As MIRA faces an uncertain future after its trash-burning power plant in Hartford closes later this year, Old Lyme decided to leave the quasi-public that has taken the town’s trash for 25 years. The Old Lyme Board of Selectmen voted unanimously to opt out of its contract with MIRA and enter a five-year contract with New London-based CWPM Waste Removal and Recycling Services that First Selectman Tim Griswold said will save the town thousands of dollars each year. The Materials Innovation and Recovery Authority, or MIRA, has given its 48 member towns until early April to decide

More

As Energy Costs Soar, Regulators Warn Third-Party Suppliers Usually Cost More

Given that Connecticut residential electric customers pay the highest bills in the continental U.S., the dozens of third-party electric suppliers selling contracts in the state may look enticing to customers fed up with Eversource or United Illuminating bills. Claims of lower costs are often a key selling point as third-party electric suppliers try to bring in new customers, but state utility regulators are warning again — as the war Ukraine threatens to send energy costs still higher — that those contracts usually cost customers more, especially for those who are already struggling to pay their bills. PURA found that a

More

Connecticut Lawmakers Pass Gas Tax Holiday, Offer Free Bus Rides

With lawmakers promising more tax relief to come this session, a plan for a three-month gas tax holiday and free buses passed both chambers of the legislature without opposition on Wednesday – a move that should start to save Connecticut commuters some money starting in early April. The legislature agreed to suspend the state’s 25-cent per gallon excise tax on gasoline from April 1 to June 30, make bus service in the state free for the same period, and exempt purchases of clothes and shoes under $100 from the sales tax for one week from April 10 to 16. Gov.

More

Lamont Touts ‘Transformative’ State Pier Project, as Costs Inch Upward

NEW LONDON – Shortly after joining Gov. Ned Lamont at a press conference to celebrate progress toward redeveloping State Pier as a hub for constructing wind energy off the New England coast, Port Authority Chair David Kooris outlined additional figures that will likely push the project cost to about $250 million – far above the $93 million price tag originally pitched in 2019 and several million dollars higher than the $235.5 million projection given last year. Speaking at the New London State Pier on Tuesday morning, Lamont signaled support for the additional funding. Lamont said the project was enormous –

More

Pavilion a Sticking Point in New ‘Smoke on the Water’ Application in Old Saybrook

/

OLD SAYBROOK – Chef Colt Taylor returned to the Zoning Commission Monday with a scaled-back proposal for Smoke on the Water, a seasonal outdoor restaurant along the Connecticut River slated for the site of the former Dock and Dine.  The new application for Smoke on the Water – which comes almost 10 months after the Zoning Commission unanimously rejected the previous application as incomplete – has been reduced from 300 seats to 268, pulled back farther from the Connecticut River, and given an earlier closing time of 9 p.m, Taylor told the commission during a preliminary discussion to gauge members’

More

Proposed Route 85 Facelift: New Roundabout and Bridges Between Salem and Montville

SALEM – A Connecticut Department of Transportation plan would reshape a 5-mile section of Route 85 between Salem and Montville: widening shoulders to accommodate bicycles, replacing two bridges, and replacing the intersection of Routes 85 and 161 with a single-lane roundabout. Why a roundabout? DOT is proposing to shift the intersection of Routes 85 and 161 a few hundred feet to the East, so that Route 161 will intersect at a new, single-lane roundabout where Route 85 currently intersects with Deer Run. A new nearly 2,000 foot stretch of Route 161 will be built between Butlertown Road and the new

More

Renewable Industry asks FERC to End New England Rules Favoring Natural Gas

A recent auction to secure electric generating capacity for New England steered over $1 billion of investment to power plants in the region, including 15 percent towards clean energy resources like solar, wind and energy storage. Renewable industry groups RENEW Northeast and the American Clean Power Association said that regional grid operator ISO-New England’s decisions to assume natural-gas fired power plants have a 100 percent reliable fuel supply — despite ISO repeatedly warning that those plants could lose access to fuel during long cold snaps — is blocking renewables from taking on a larger share of that auction. In a

More

Energy Leadership In Hartford Set to Change as Arconti, Formica Will not Seek Re-election

HARTFORD – State Rep. David Arconti, D-Danbury, said Wednesday that he will not be seeking re-election this fall to a sixth term representing the 109th House District. Arconti, who serves as co-chair of the legislature’s Energy and Technology Committee, was first elected to represent the district that includes part of Danbury in 2012. Arconti said in a news release that he decided it was time to pursue other interests. “I come from a very large and public-service minded family, and I’ve always been proud to carry on that tradition and to be the first member of my family to serve

More

Henshaw Steps Down from Port Authority, Kooris Renominated to Board

Connecticut Port Authority Executive Director John Henshaw will step down from his position on April 21, the port authority said in a news release Tuesday morning. Appointed as executive director in August 2020 after serving a decade as the head of the Maine Port Authority, Henshaw said in the release that he has decided to return to Maine to pursue other opportunities.  Henshaw said the Connecticut Port Authority was in a strong position to move forward because the State Pier redevelopment project has secured all of its permits and the New Haven Harbor navigation improvement project has secured all of

More

Energy Companies Investigated for Suing Customers During COVID Moratorium

Despite orders not to shut off utility customers with unpaid bills due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Eversource, United Illuminating and their related natural gas and water companies sued and secured wage garnishments for dozens of customers in 2020 and 2021, the Office of Consumer Counsel alleged. In a filing on Friday afternoon, the Office of Consumer Counsel asked the Public Utility Regulatory Authority to investigate Connecticut’s two largest utility companies after both admitted to hiring outside counsel to seek judgments and wage garnishments against customers in 2020 and 2021 — even during the state’s moratorium on utility shutoffs from March

More

Apartments are Sprouting in Downtown Middletown. Where Will Everybody Park?

MIDDLETOWN – The message from a developer looking to build apartments downtown was clear: if Middletown wants more people living in its commercial center, it is going to need to deal with parking. Two separate proposals from different developers would add a combined 65 apartments near the intersection of Main and Washington streets in the center of downtown Middletown – moving the city towards its goal of promoting mixed-use and residential spaces in the district, but raising concerns about the additional cars would affect a parking situation that is already a source of headaches for residents and visitors. Investor David

More

Jane Bunnett and Maqueque to Bring Cuban Sound to Old Lyme

OLD LYME – Over the past seven years, renowned Canadian jazz saxophonist Jane Bunnett and Maqueque – a group of five musicians from Cuba – have become one of the top jazz groups in North America, and in the past year have brought their vibrant sound to festivals from Newport to Monterey. On Saturday, Jane Bunnett and Maqueque will stop in Old Lyme for a one-night-only show at The Side Door Jazz Club at the Old Lyme Inn. Bunnett – winner of five Juno awards and nominated for three Grammy awards – first began digging into Cuban music after visiting

More

Third-party Electric Supplier Fined $2 million for Marketing Violations

Third-party electric supplier Discount Power was fined $2 million and barred from operating in Connecticut for three years after regulators found that its sales agents routinely misled and lied to customers to persuade them to enroll in contracts with the company. The Public Utilities Regulatory Authority issued a scathing report this month outlining Discount Power’s “grave, systemic violations” of state marketing laws in 2018 and 2019. PURA – the state utility regulator – said it reviewed calls from dozens of agents representing Discount Power and that each call included numerous violations of law. PURA said that there were cases where

More

As MIRA Loses Key Source of Revenue, Towns Weigh Options for Trash

The 48 towns that have their trash handled by MIRA must decide by the end of the month whether to sign a five-year contract to stay with the agency or find another option.  As the Materials Innovation and Recovery Authority, or MIRA, prepares to shut down its trash-burning power plant, it is transitioning into a new role as a broker between its member towns and private trash haulers. Cost will be the major factor towns consider when weighing their options, but geography could determine whether the member towns even have other options to consider.  Rocky Hill Town Manager John Mehr

More

Data Center Developer Continues Push for Quick Council Vote in Groton

GROTON – The developer behind a proposed large data center has continued to push for a quick resolution, convincing the Groton Town Council to hold a special meeting next week to vote on an agreement that has not yet been finalized. The host municipality fee agreement sets the fees developer NE Edge would pay Groton if it builds data centers on properties off of Flanders Road, just south of Interstate 95. The agreement is a necessary first step to any data center project required by legislation that NE Edge Manager Thomas Quinn lobbied for, which exempts data centers from property

More

Data Centers Cry Foul as DEEP Takes Aim at Diesel Generator Emissions

Advocates for bringing data centers into Connecticut warned that a proposal to restrict emissions from large diesel power generators could halt the industry’s interest in the state, undoing the progress of major incentives lawmakers approved to attract data centers last year. Those tax incentives have so far appeared to be achieving their goals, as proposals for new data centers have popped up across the state, including in Groton and Wallingford, where municipal electric companies make the cost of electricity less prohibitive for the energy-intensive data centers. But DEEP Commissioner Katie Dykes warned the legislature’s Environment Committee on Monday that Connecticut

More

Lawmakers Take Aim at High Electric Bills, Look to Mend “Death By a Thousand Cuts”

It’s no secret that electricity in Connecticut is expensive. Connecticut electric customers pay the highest monthly bills in the country outside of Hawaii, and they know it – routinely commiserating over electric bills in the hundreds of dollars. Answering why is more complicated. There’s the cost of state policies that support renewable energy, the cost of regional policies that support natural gas, and the cost of living in the Northeast, where prices are high across the board. And customers are quick to point at the massive profits their utilities’ parent companies continue to earn as evidence that shareholders come before

More

Drive Thrus Mean Business: Dunkin Approved in Guilford

/

The latest in a wave of drive-thru restaurants gaining approval along the shoreline is a Dunkin Donuts on an undeveloped stretch of Boston Post Road in Guilford, approved by the town’s Planning and Zoning Commission on Wednesday.  Frank D’Andrea, who is vice-chair of the commission and recused himself from this application, is planning to build a new Dunkin Donuts location at 1486 Boston Post Road with a drive thru window to replace his two other locations in town. The commission voted 6-0 to approve a special permit with conditions for D’Andrea’s proposed new store. D’Andrea, who chaired the rest of

More

Auditors Report Lack of Competitive Bidding, Data Breaches at State Health Insurance Exchange

The Connecticut Health Insurance Exchange is using an “extremely broad” procurement policy, which has enabled it to award millions of dollars worth of contracts without a competitive bidding process, state auditors reported on Tuesday. The auditors also found breaches of client information that were not reported to the auditors, despite a state law requiring the exchange to report them when they occur. It was the second audit in two years to point out that the quasi-public agency that operates the Access Health CT health insurance exchange was forgoing a competitive bidding process on a high proportion of its contracts.  Auditors

More

Further Setback for Killingly Gas-Fired Plant

KILLINGLY – Federal regulators on Wednesday halted an attempt by Florida-based NTE Energy to revivie a contract that provided a key source of funding for the proposed Killingly Energy Center. The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission rejected an argument from NTE – the owner of the proposed 650 megawatt natural gas-fired plant in Killingly that has become a lightning rod of criticism for environmental advocates – that ISO-New England’s decision to pull a crucial capacity contract wasn’t supported by evidence. FERC said on Wednesday that NTE’s repeated delays and extensions of milestones to secure funding and construct the plant were sufficient

More

Small Apartments Pitched as Key to Planned Redevelopment on Main St., Middletown

MIDDLETOWN – A key building in the center of Main Street that has eluded redevelopment for years could find new life if a new plan proposed by a Woodbridge-based developer for 48 apartments, retail space and offices comes to fruition. Real estate investor David Marasow applied to the Middletown Planning and Zoning Commission to convert the building at 339 Main St. that was once home to Bob’s Stores into a mixed-use development, with mainly studio and one-bedroom apartments, retail spaces and offices. Currently occupied only on the first floor by the popular restaurant La Boca, finding someone to redevelop the

More

Essex Receives a State Grant for Sidewalks Along River Road to Heritage Cove

ESSEX – Persistent lobbying has paid off for residents of Heritage Cove in Essex. The town received a state grant this month to build a sidewalk along River Road that will connect the condominium complex and surrounding neighborhood to Main Street and Essex Village. First Selectman Norm Needleman said residents of the condominiums have been pressing the town to extend sidewalks to their community for years, and that a $595,611 grant from the Connecticut Department of Transportation’s Community Connectivity Grant Program is expected to cover most or all of the cost. “They’ve tried to impress upon us how important the

More