Electricity Rates to Increase This Summer — Bucking the Usual Summertime Dip in Cost

Summer typically means lower supply rates for electric customers in Connecticut as high demand for natural gas over the winter subsides, and electric companies seasonally adjust their rates on July 1 to match the lower price. But in an unusual move driven by the constrained global market for natural gas, Connecticut’s largest electric supplier said that they will be raising — not lowering — rates this summer. But even without the increase, seasonally-adjusted rates are often little comfort to electric customers who tend to use more power during the hot summer months. Eversource will charge a 3.9 percent increase in

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State Officials Approve Scaled-Back North Stonington Solar Farm, 35-Acre Clear-Cut

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NORTH STONINGTON – After striking a deal to win local support for a proposed 8.35 megawatt solar farm, on Thursday Nashville-based Silicon Ranch received the further go-ahead from state officials, reversing a prior decision. The proposed solar farm, which has been the subject of a contentious approval process dating to 2016, has highlighted tensions between solar development and conservation in Connecticut. Eight months after rejecting an earlier proposal by a tie vote, the Connecticut Siting Council voted 6-0 on Thursday afternoon to give a green light to a scaled-back version of the project, which will only include panels south of

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Regulators Settle $3 Million Case, as Energy Customers Accumulate Hundreds of Millions More Debt

As many of Connecticut’s lowest-income residents face utility shut-offs for the first time since 2019, advocates for the poor say they hope a $3 million settlement between regulators and one of the state’s largest utilities will ensure that every available protection will be offered to poor customers who have collectively piled up tens of millions of dollars in unpaid bills. The settlement underscores concerns about how Connecticut residents will pay for the mountain of unpaid utility bills they’ve accumulated — nearly $220 million of uncollectible debt by United Illuminated customers alone – over the last two years. Avangrid – the

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Lawmakers Approve 2040 Target for Zero-Carbon Emissions

HARTFORD –  Connecticut lawmakers approved legislation codifying as law Gov. Ned Lamont’s goals for a zero-carbon emissions from Connecticut’s electric supply by 2040, in addition to expanding two programs aimed at incentivizing large solar projects. The measure breezed through the Senate unanimously earlier this week, and passed the House overwhelmingly on Thursday by a 113-35 vote, with some lawmakers questioning whether it was a practical goal, and others questioning what the goal really accomplishes if Connecticut will need to buy credits from renewable energy projects in other states in order to reach it. In a statement, Lamont said codifying his

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Malloy-era Program to Encourage Gas Home Heating Ends Far Short of Goal

A program meant to incentivize a broad shift in home heating from oil to natural gas has come to an early end, far short of its lofty goals, as regulators found rising costs didn’t justify the limited interest in the program. The Public Utilities Regulatory Authority voted 3-0 to end one of former Gov. Dannell Malloy’s key energy programs on Wednesday – a program that incentivized customers to shift to natural gas by subsidizing the upfront costs of connecting to gas mains. When the program was implemented in 2013, Malloy set a goal of converting 280,000 new customers to gas

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Transportation and Clean Air Bills Clear Senate as Dems and GOP Differ on Merits and Costs

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HARTFORD — The Connecticut Senate passed a group of bills aimed at reducing emissions caused by transportation and energy generation on Tuesday night, including an omnibus air quality bill aimed at encouraging the adoption of electric vehicles for a variety of vehicles from passenger cars to buses to heavy-duty trucks, and a bill that speeds up the state’s goals for eliminating carbon emissions from electric generation. During about seven hours of debate on a bill proponents have dubbed the “Connecticut Clean Air Act,” Republicans warned that changes in the bill came too quickly for people to adapt, that the true

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Connecticut Regulators Settle Discount Power Complaint For Misleading Electric Customers

State regulators agreed to settle a complaint with a third-party electric supplier for half of its original fine despite pleas from the Attorney General and Office of Consumer Counsel to fight the company in court. The company’s sales agents were found to have routinely misled people into signing contracts. After the Public Utility Regulatory Authority decided to fine Discount Power $2 million over what regulators described as “grave, systemic” violations of state marketing laws, the Shelton-based company appealed the fine to Superior Court.  The company had argued that the fine and a three-year suspension of its license to operate in

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Eversource and Avangrid ask to Extend Deadline for Natural Gas Hookups, as Subsidies Come to End

As regulators get ready to shut down a program that subsidizes Connecticut customers to connect to natural gas, the two largest utility companies in Connecticut are calling for more time to sign up customers who have already shown interest as part of an “orderly wind down” of the program. The Public Utilities Regulatory Authority issued a draft decision in March where the utility regulator said it intended to end the Gov. Dan Malloy-era program as soon as April 27, citing less interest in the program than expected, rising costs, and limited environmental benefits.  The PURA board meets Wednesday morning to

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Retired Conn College VP Tapped as Interim Head of the Connecticut Port Authority

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As the Connecticut Port Authority begins its search for a replacement for Executive Director John Henshaw, who is stepping down,  the quasi-public currently overseeing the redevelopment of the New London’s State Pier into an offshore wind hub has tapped the retired vice president of Connecticut College, Ulysses B. Hammond, as its interim executive director. Connecticut Port Authority Board Chair David Kooris said that Hammond’s experience overseeing human resources, finances and capital projects as vice president of administration at Connecticut College is, “a macrocosm of everything that the authority deals with on a smaller scale.” “I think he’s very well positioned

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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Looming Deadlines Push Costs, Possible 16-Hour Days for State Pier Redevelopment

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As construction begins on the first offshore wind project meant to be staged out of New London’s State Pier, looming deadlines are driving up costs as officials work out the final price of the pier’s redevelopment. At a Connecticut Port Authority board meeting last week, Chairman David Kooris said there has been close coordination with Eversource and Ørsted to make sure the State Pier project is finished in time to be used on their 132-megawatt South Fork Wind project, which had a ceremonial groundbreaking this month in Long Island, and is supposed to go online in late 2023. The final

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Eversource Reports More Than $1.2 Billion in Profits for Second Consecutive Year

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For the second consecutive year, Eversource reported profits of more than $1.2 billion – and those profits for 2021 would have been even higher if the company hadn’t been penalized for its response to Tropical Storm Isaias in 2020. The $1.22 billion in profit Eversource reported for 2021 – which includes the company’s electric, gas and water subsidiaries in Connecticut, Massachusetts and New Hampshire – is an increase of about $15.3 million (1.3 percent) from the record profits the company reported in 2020, and an increase of $311.4 million (34.3 percent) from the profits it reported in 2019. The company

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Fate of Gas-Fired Killingly Plant Roils New England’s Energy Market

ISO-New England is asking federal regulators for more time to release the results of its annual forward capacity auction from last week, saying it can’t finalize them until the status of the proposed Killingly Energy Center is resolved. A last-minute ruling from the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals caused confusion at a key regional energy auction last Monday when it issued an injunction forcing the regional grid operator ISO-New England to include Florida-based NTE Energy’s proposed 650 megawatt, natural gas-fired plant in the auction. The order came months after ISO pulled a contract for the Killingly project due to missed

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Last Minute Delay Leaves Green Energy Advocates Up in Arms in Connecticut

ISO-New England’s announcement that it would end a rule blocking state-subsidized renewable energy projects from its annual capacity auction should have been a win for renewable energy, but a last-minute decision to delay the change for two years instead has sparked frustration among advocates of green energy. Advocates of developing more renewable energy resources in New England have long targeted the so-called minimum offer price rule, which favors gas-fired power plants at the expense of state-funded, large-scale renewable energy projects in the regional auction for electric capacity. Francis Pullaro, executive director of RENEW Northeast, which represents the renewable energy industry

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Not So Fast… Circuit Court Gives New Life to Gas-fired Killingly Energy Center

A surprise 11th-hour ruling opened the door for the Killingly Energy Center to regain a key source of funding that it lost late last year – creating uncertainty in an annual auction meant to ensure New England has enough power plants to meet electricity demand. The D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals issued a stay on the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission’s decision to allow grid operator ISO-New England to end a contract funding the Killingly Energy Center – Florida-based NTE Energy’s proposed 650 megawatt, gas-fired plant that became a lightning rod of criticism from environmental advocates opposed to building new fossil

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Lawmakers Seek Balance of Energy Reliability, Cost, Reduced Emissions

At a forum intended to spark discussion about the fragile state of New England’s electric grid, State Rep. David Arconti, D-Danbury, had a clear question in mind – can the problems be solved in a deregulated energy market? Arconti posed the question to a series of panelists during a wide-ranging, five-hour discussion at the Energy and Technology Committee’s Tuesday forum, “Staring into the Storm.”  While most panelists offered a steady refrain that the shortcomings of the current market are correctable, Arconti said he believed the root problem was the decision in 1998 to replace a system of state-regulated utilities generating

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Officials Question Role of Natural Gas, Regional Energy Market in Connecticut’s Future

Most years, New England’s electrical grid walks a fine line to ensure that all six states have an uninterrupted supply of power – balancing a generating capacity depending heavily on natural gas, with infrastructure that is inadequate to fuel all of those plants. So when the grid operator ISO-New England announced late last year that there might not be enough gas available to power the grid through an extended cold snap, ISO President Gordon van Welie said it was a good-faith effort to bring more transparency to the electric grid’s shortcomings. But in Connecticut, energy leaders have already been questioning

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Putting Aside Carbon Caps, Lamont Presses for California Emissions Standards, EV Subsidies

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With carbon caps off the table for this year’s short legislative session, at a League of Conservation Voters forum on Thursday, Gov. Ned Lamont pressed lawmakers to focus on reduced vehicle emissions by adopting California’s standards, and expanding subsidies for electric vehicles. “One thing I’ve noticed – business, labor, in particular the legislature – everybody’s generally in favor of doing more to protect the environment,” Lamont chided legislators. “But when push comes to shove, when it comes to putting our shoulder to the wheel, sometimes you pull back when it comes time to figure out how we’re going to pay

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Connecticut Aims Big Subsidies at Home and Business Energy Storage Plan

As batteries large enough to temporarily power homes and businesses have become more widespread in the United States, Connecticut is launching a program to heavily subsidize them, aiming to take a significant step toward reaching storage goals that state lawmakers set last year. The Energy Storage Solutions program, approved by the Public Utilities Regulatory Authority in December and accepting applications this month, comes with promises to provide a reliable source of backup power to homes, and a way to curb high energy bills for industry – providing large subsidies to help cover some of the costs of installing battery storage systems

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‘Green Hydrogen,’ Small Solar Projects, Electricity Bills Top Arconti’s Energy Agenda

Encouraging the development of shared solar projects, planning a path to “green hydrogen,” and lowering electric bills for customers of the state’s largest utilities will top an abbreviated agenda of the legislature’s Energy & Technology Committee when it reconvenes in February State Rep. David Arconti, D-Danbury, told CT Examiner. Arconti, who co-chairs the committee, said that lawmakers will finalize the agenda over the next weeks before the Feb 9 start of session, but with a short election year calendar, he said he has several priorities of his own that he’d like to see addressed in the coming months.  “We tend

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Loss of Key Funding Guarantee Leaves Plan for Killingly Gas-Fired Plant in Doubt

In a move that calls into question – or at least delays for years – plans for a natural-gas-fired power plant in Killingly, federal energy regulators agreed on Monday to end a contract providing key funding for the proposed Killingly Energy Center.  The Federal Energy Regulatory Authority (FERC) approved a request by ISO-New England, the regional grid operator, to end its capacity supply obligation to Florida-based NTE Energy after the company failed to meet contractual timelines to build the 650 MW Killingly Energy Center.  That contract was a key source of funding for the Killingly Energy Center, which has drawn

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State Officials See Nuclear Plant as Key to Connecticut’s Energy Goals

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WATERFORD – The future of energy — and energy costs — in New England hinge on the continued operation of Millstone Nuclear Power Station if Connecticut remains committed to the administration’s goal of a carbon-free electrical grid by 2040. But keeping Millstone running may require difficult choices in just a few years, as lawmakers and energy officials across look to ensure one of New England’s two remaining power plants stays open – debating options including carbon taxes, cost-sharing and a new energy market specific to funding renewable projects.  In a region heavily reliant on natural gas, the 2-gigawatt nuclear plant

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Lawmakers and Chief Regulator Skeptical as Eversource Settlement Yields New Leadership Role

On Wednesday, Eversource named Steve Sullivan, a long-time employee of the company, president of Connecticut operations. The move was part of an agreement with state regulators intended to improve the company’s storm response after Tropical Storm Isaias. But while the company described the move as a commitment  to rebuilding customer confidence, state lawmakers and the state’s chief regulator questioned the need for the new executive position and the wisdom of the settlement that created it. Sullivan, a resident of Connecticut’s northeast corner who has worked for Eversource for more than 30 years, will take on the new role and oversee

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North Stonington Selectmen Vote to End Fight With Solar Farm Developer

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NORTH STONINGTON – After its proposal to clear-cut 44 acres of woodland for a 9.9 megawatt solar farm was rejected by state officials in a surprise tie vote in September, Nashville-based Silicon Ranch offered the town’s board of selectmen a deal. The company would scale back the project to 8.35 megawatt, constraining it entirely south of the Norwich-New London Turnpike, if the town agreed to drop its opposition to the proposal at the Connecticut Siting Council. If the town didn’t agree, the company said it would go ahead with re-submitting its full 9.9 MW proposal with enough revisions to satisfy

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Eversource Warns of Credit Card Fees — But Can’t Charge Them

As part of a 2018 settlement, Eversource residential customers cannot be charged a fee for paying a bill by credit card — but you wouldn’t know it, based on misleading warnings on the company’s website. When an Eversource electric customer checks their bill online, they’re met with a prompt letting them know that Eversource provides options to pay: adding their bank account information to the online portal, or setting up autopay or pay-by-text. The site also warns customers they can pay by credit card, but that a “fee applies.” In fact, Eversource agreed to stop charging residential electric customers a

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Reopened Connecticut Water Case Draws Warning From Top State Regulator

PURA Chair Marissa Gillett warned that the authority’s decision to allow Connecticut Water to raise rates again because of a mistake the company made in a rate case earlier this year would continue to push the burden of proof onto the regulator, making it more difficult to protect customers from unnecessary rate increases. After having their rate increase approved in July, Connecticut Water went back to the Public Utilities Regulatory Authority and asked the regulator to allow the company another $2 million in revenue because the company had made an accounting mistake on one specific tax matter in the complex

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