Lamont Remarks on Killingly Plant Raise Eyebrows of Green Energy Proponents

Remarks Gov. Ned Lamont made this week opposing a controversial plan to build a new 650 MW gas-fired plant in Killingly raised eyebrows, and questions about how to reconcile his words with recent approvals by state regulators of new gas infrastructure. The Killingly plant, which was first proposed by Florida-based NTE Energy in 2016, has become a key rallying point in the ongoing effort to promote new sources of renewable energy for Connecticut and to scale back – and eventually eliminate – power plants that burn fossil fuels. “I don’t want to build Killingly,” Lamont told environmental advocates assembled for

More

State Orders Change in Tree Trimming by United Illuminating

The state’s energy regulator has ordered United Illuminating to make several changes to its tree trimming programs, changes that the energy provider has argued would make it harder for the company to ensure reliable service. According to the Public Utilities Regulatory Authority, United Illuminating relies too heavily on a program designed to respond to pressing and dangerous situations, for example when a branch is touching a power line, and is in effect using the program to replace regular tree trimming. In response, the state authority directed that the UI limit its targeted risk management program to priority situations where there

More

Subsidies a Bone of Contention as Renewable Energy Producers Seek Federal Ruling

Supporters of expanding renewable energy are headed for a showdown with New England’s energy market operator at the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission over an arcane rule that could have major implications in the near future for how much is invested in solar and offshore wind compared to natural gas. Debate over the true cost of developing solar and offshore wind projects has led to two competing proposals – one from the regional energy market operator ISO-New England and the other from the New England Power Pool, a voluntary organization of stakeholders in the regional market including Eversource, energy producers, and

More

Renewed Investment in Gas-Fired Energy Spurs Debate in Middletown

/

MIDDLETOWN — A major energy company is pitching its replacement of two nearly 70-year old natural gas-fired turbines at a Middletown power plant as environmentally friendly, but local and statewide advocates for renewable energy question why new fossil fuel-fired infrastructure is being built at all. Princeton-based NRG has proposed replacing two gas- and fuel-powered turbines, built in 1958 and 1964, with one turbine that is more efficient and faster to start.  The 375-megawatt turbine will replace the same nameplate amount of megawatts as the two existing turbines, and generate lower emissions per hour, but the new turbine is also expected

More

UI and Eversource Report Long-term Improvements in Service Reliability

Connecticut’s for-profit energy providers improved their day-to-day reliability in 2019, according to an annual report on the reliability of the state’s electric system compiled by its utility regulator, PURA. With the exception of major storms, United Illuminating and Eversource reported shorter and less frequent average outages compared to the previous four years, according to a report approved on Wednesday morning.  PURA is required by state statute to submit the annual reliability report to the General Assembly. The report includes two metrics: one for frequency and one for duration of service interruptions. The System Average Interruption Frequency Index (SAIFI) measures how

More

PURA Moves to Reduce Cost Swings for Consumer Electric Bills

After a steep summer rate increase led to outrage from Eversource customers, regulators approved new rules on Wednesday that are meant to limit major fluctuations in electric bills. The Public Utilities Regulatory Authority unanimously approved a new system for setting the “distribution” rates that electric distribution companies Eversource and United Illuminating use to recover their costs from ratepayers – using real costs from the prior year rather than estimates to set rates for the new year, and lowering the interest rate the companies can charge if they recovered less than their costs in the previous year, known as “carrying costs.”

More

Eversource Announces Voluntary Moratorium on Service Disconnections

Eversource Energy announced in a news release on Friday that the energy provider would suspend utility disconnections for nonpayment. The decision comes after a statewide moratorium on utility disconnections expired Oct. 1, and the Public Utilities Regulatory chose not to extend it, despite pleas from both Eversource and United Illuminating. Marissa Gillett, chair of the state’s utilitary regulator PURA, had pressed the companies to “voluntarily extend the moratorium.” Eversource spokesman Mitch Gross said the company made the decision to suspend disconnections because it was the right thing to do for both its customers and employees with COVID-19 cases rising in

More

Solar Farm Approved for 75-acre Parcel in Waterford

The Connecticut Siting Council — the state agency tasked with balancing the costs and benefits of locating new infrastructure in Connecticut — voted 3 -1 to approve a scaled back version of a proposal to build a 75-acre solar farm in Waterford previously rejected by the council in 2018. The council will still need to approve a detailed development and management plan before construction can begin. The state regulator found that the project by developer Greenskies Renewable Energy to install 45,976 panels capable of generating 15.3 megawatts of electricity would not cause a “substantial adverse environmental effect.” That conclusion was

More

Higher Winter Energy Costs, But Smallest Bump Since 2017Sund

Like most years, Eversource and United Illuminating customers will see larger bills in January as the Public Utilities Regulatory approved new rates for the first six months of 2021. PURA approved a “winter” rate of 8.391 cents per kilowatt hour for Eversource – up from the current rate of 7.375 cents – and approved a rate of 9.369 cents for United Illuminating – up from the current rate of 8.667 cents. The new rates will take effect on Jan. 1, 2021, and extend through June 30.  The proposed winter price will cause a noticeable increase for customers between December and

More

PURA Opts for Existing Programs Over Shutoff Moratorium

The Public Utilities Regulatory Authority ruled in a virtual hearing on Friday morning that it would not renew the statewide moratorium on electricity and gas shutoffs which expired on October 1. Eversource had filed a motion to extend the moratorium on September 30. Under current regulations, an extension would have allowed Eversource to offset the cost of customers unable to pay their bills by increasing costs for paying customers. Without a moratorium, Eversource has no legal right to these funds.  Eversource representatives at the hearing said that they wanted to have the moratorium in place for the sake of “clarity

More

Osten, Formica, Needleman Weigh in on Energy Legislation, as it Passes 35-0

HARTFORD — The State Senate passed a bill aimed at improving accountability for storm response of energy providers, like Eversource and United Illuminating, by a vote of 35-0, sending the bill to Gov. Ned Lamont for his signature. As key legislators representing southeast Connecticut on the Energy and Technology Committee praised the strides they say the bill made, they admitted there was far more work to be done, and promised to consider deeper reforms in the regular session. “This is an important first step,” said State Sen. Norm Needleman, D-Essex, co-chair of the committee. “There will be more, many more.”

More

House Lawmakers Overwhelmingly Approve Performance-Based Energy Bill

The Connecticut House of Representatives voted to approve a bill that would direct the state’s utility regulator to establish a rate-making system for energy providers, including Eversource and UI, that would consider the quality of their service to consumers. The House voted 136-4 to approve the bill, which will give the Public Utilities Regulatory Authority, called PURA, more power to penalize utilities for poor performance in storm recovery and which will force the companies to reimburse customers who lost food or medicine after lengthy power outages. Lawmakers overwhelmingly supported the legislation, but also called for more action and in-depth reviews

More

Formica, Marx, Debate Energy Prices, Millstone Deal, in Southeast Connecticut Race

After a steep rate hike on July 1 by Eversource Energy was met with outrage from customers across Connecticut, the company – New England’s largest energy provider – responded by blaming the Connecticut legislature for forcing it into a long-term contract subsidizing Millstone Nuclear Power Plant in Waterford. A bipartisan group of state and elected officials, including southeastern Connecticut lawmakers, passed legislation in 2017 that paved the way for Millstone owner Dominion Energy to bid for a long-term preferential contract usually reserved for new renewable sources like wind and solar power. Dominion said at the time that it would close

More

As Legislature Moves to Address Storm Outages, Energy Providers Warn of Added Cost

The Connecticut General Assembly will consider a wide-ranging bill in special session this month aimed at addressing apparent shortcomings in the response by Eversource and United Illuminating to Tropical Storm Isaias. That bill will include provisions that task the Public Utility Regulatory Authority with reviewing and establishing minimum staffing levels for the energy providers. In written testimony in response, Eversource and United Illuminating warned that more staff will mean significantly higher rates for customers. The bipartisan bill, “An Act Concerning Emergency Response by Electric Distribution Companies and Revising the Regulation of Other Public Utilities,” was introduced by State Sen. Paul

More

Eversource Compensation and the Competition

Eversource has been pushed into the spotlight after a sharp rate hike on July 1 drew outrage from customers, and Tropical Storm Isaias left hundreds of thousands without power soon after, some for over a week. Eversource’s well-paid executives have drawn scrutiny from customers and politicians in recent weeks, with Middletown Mayor Ben Florsheim noting that the $39.37 million compensation for the utility’s top five executives amounted to more than the town’s combined budget for police, fire, public works and emergency management. Even in the world of high-paid electric executives, Eversource executives make a lot of money.  Serving 3.2 million

More

Energy Committee Members Weigh in with in-depth Critique of Connecticut’s Power Grid and Utilities

As hundreds of thousands of Eversource customers wait into the weekend for the utility to restore electrical service, the company has drawn scrutiny from state lawmakers who promise hearings to investigate its storm preparedness and response. More than 900,000 Eversource customers lost power after Tropical Storm Isaias blew through Connecticut on Tuesday afternoon, downing trees and power lines in every corner of the state. Eversource assured customers on Thursday that an estimated 99 percent of customers will have power on Tuesday, and that additional out-of-state mutual aid crews will help make “significant progress” over the weekend. Already, Gov. Ned Lamont

More

As Eversource and United Illuminating Struggle, Smaller Utilities Across Connecticut Shine in Storm Response

Municipal electric utilities with small and compact customer bases — like Norwich Public Utilities and Town of Wallingford Electric Division — have made quick progress restoring power to customers after Tropical Storm Isaias even as hundreds of thousands of customers of Eversource and United Illuminating remain without power on Thursday night. By the end of Wednesday night, Norwich Public Utilities had restored power to 5,500 of the 6,500 affected customers. The utility expects that 99 percent of its customers will have power by the end of Thursday, just two days after about a third of Norwich’s 20,000 customers lost power.

More

PURA Orders Eversource to Restore Prior Rates for Electricity to Customers in Connecticut

With public outcry escalating about higher electric bills, the Public Utilities Regulatory Authority ordered Eversource on Friday to immediately restore delivery rates that were in effect on June 30. PURA said the agency had received numerous complaints related to the increased delivery charges incurred by Eversource ratepayers and will temporarily suspend approval of the new rates.  “Due to the convergence of a number of recent events, including the July 1st administrative adjustment to certain delivery rate components, the COVID-19 crisis and its corresponding effect on customer energy usage, as well as the higher than normal temperatures this month, Eversource customers

More

As Eversource Sharply Increases Electricity Costs for Connecticut Customers, Millstone Deal Blamed, Lawmakers Call for Hearings

Questions continue to mount about increases in electricity delivery charges on Eversource bills of many Connecticut residents and businesses since July 1.  Eversource has pointed to a “variety of factors” leading to the increases, but legislators on the Energy and Technology Committee have requested that the Public Utilities Regulatory Authority (PURA) suspend the increase until a thorough review can be done.  According to Tricia Modifica, a spokesman for Eversource, “The biggest factor is the state energy policy that was passed by the state legislature in 2017 that requires Eversource and United Illuminating to purchase power from Millstone Nuclear Power Plant

More

Bob Guzzo Talks Quotas, Offshore Wind and Fishing out of Stonington

/

STONINGTON — Bob Guzzo lost the steering in his conch boat on Monday, but somehow navigated back to the town dock.  “The steering stiffened right up and I thought something was in the rudder. We tried it this morning, we thought it was a pump, but it doesn’t seem to be, it seems to be working fine,” he said Tuesday morning, seated on the edge of the vessel. “I’m going to try to get a diver down there to make sure that something isn’t loose and got stuck.”  Guzzo, 63, has two boats — this one, named Hostile Waters that

More

Eversource Reports Just Half the Usual Service Shutoffs for May — Moratorium to End on July 1

In May, just 68 businesses in the 149 towns across Connecticut that Eversource services disconnected their electric compared to 118 in 2019. Although it may seem counterintuitive, as many businesses are struggling to stay afloat throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, Eversource has suspended all involuntary customer disconnections due to missed payments since mid-March. “We’ve waived all late payment charges and began offering a special, flexible payment plan for any past due bills,” said Frank Poirot Jr., a spokesperson for Eversource. “We’ve also set up a special resource page on our website as well as an 800 number for business customers to

More

Back to Square One as Region Towns Reject $333 Million Renovation of MIRA Trash Incinerator

/

On May 31, the Materials Innovation Recycling Authority (MIRA) will go back to drawing board to find an alternative to either trucking thousands of tons of garbage out of state annually or spending $333 million to renovate an out-of-date trash incinerator in Hartford. With an early end to the legislative session and the 51-member towns spread across the Lower Connecticut River Valley unwilling to foot the bill for the renovations, MIRA has no choice but to leave behind their agreement with Sacyr Rooney Recovery Team. “We had anticipated the answer we got from the towns and it helped clarify the

More

Lyme-Old Lyme Board of Education Approves Sustainability Committee For Local Schools

//

LYME/OLDLYME — After two years of attending meetings, Karen Taylor’s call for a focus on environmental protection has been heard, and a Sustainability Committee was approved by the Lyme-Old Lyme Board of Education. “It feels so good, I truly feel listened to and heard,” said Taylor who has two children in the Lyme-Old Lyme Schools and works as a substitute teacher. “I really think this committee will allow us to coordinate efforts and make progress toward recycling and reducing waste in the schools.” The committee will advise the Board of Education and include 15 members drawn from teachers, Board of

More

Vineyard Wind Biologist Talks Common Ground with Fishing Industry

///

NEW BEDFORD — With about 20 years of experience on the seas, Crista Bank has worked in academia as a fisheries biologist, conducted research with commercial fishermen, earned her 100-ton U.S. Coast Guard captain’s license, journeyed across the globe aboard traditional sailing vessels and taught marine science in New England, Southern California and the Florida Keys. In May 2018, she became a fisheries liaison for Vineyard Wind, an offshore wind developer based in New Bedford where she grew up and now lives. The company has two projects in the works — Vineyard Wind I, a 800-megawatt project off the coast

More

Groton Startup ThayerMahan Grows to Capture Offshore Wind and Electric Boat Opportunities

//

GROTON — Years before the Connecticut Port Authority approved a $157 million deal to redevelop State Pier in New London as a staging area for offshore wind, and before a $22 billion submarine contract was awarded to Groton-based Electric Boat, a growing ecosystem of smaller companies have been setting up shop in the region, hoping to service the wind and maritime industries. “We’re a bunch of guys who started a company based on maritime [technology and data]. Many of us are former submariners and we sought to do things with autonomous vehicles that we used to do with submarines with

More

Connecticut Port Authority Approves Revised Wind Energy Plan for State Pier in New London

//

HARTFORD — The Connecticut Port Authority unanimously approved a $157 million plan to reconfigure State Pier for use by offshore wind companies following discussions during two closed executive sessions at a special meeting Tuesday morning. David Kooris, chair of the authority, said the plan was “fundamentally different” from the $93 million memorandum of understanding announced by the State of Connecticut, Gateway Terminal, Ørsted and Eversource on May 2, 2019. Like the original project, the new facility will have heavy-lift capacity needed for offshore wind components, but will also include three berths designed not to conflict with Cross Sound Ferry’s routes

More

Letter: Compare New and Old Plans Before Approving Wind Deal for State Pier

/

I enjoyed reading Cate Hewitt’s Feb. 8 interview with Alexandra Halvordson, “Halvordson Weighs in on Addition of Offshore Wind to Region’s Submarine Supply Chain,” and appreciate CT Examiner’s continued coverage of State Pier and the Thames River.  Having known Ali since elementary school, I respect how smart and hardworking she is. I am writing to publicly challenge something she said: “You have offshore wind coming, you have two ports in Connecticut that are going to be maxed out with wind, that’s great, how is that not good stuff?” Maxing out State Pier with wind may be good stuff for the Naval and Maritime

More

Halvordson Weighs in on Addition of Offshore Wind to Region’s Submarine Supply Chain

/

GROTON — Opportunities for Connecticut-based companies in the supply chain that services the undersea and maritime industries are increasing now that offshore wind has entered the market, according to Ali Halvordson executive director of the Naval and Maritime Consortium. “The offshore wind supply chain is very immature in this country. It’s growing and we want to attract it as much [and] as early as possible from Europe,” said Halvordson in her office at UConn Avery Point on Feb. 4. The consortium, formed in 2017, was originally known as the Connecticut Undersea Supply Chain Consortium and focused on the submarine industry,

More

New London Makes Sense of Connecticut’s Selection of a Bridgeport-based Wind Deal

As New London leaders absorbed news on Thursday of Ørsted and Eversource’s failed bid to secure a large slice of Gov. Lamont’s envisioned 2,000 megawatts of offshore wind power, the future and implications for proposed investments in the State Pier were still unclear. But by Friday morning, David Kooris, acting chair of the Connecticut Port Authority, said that the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection’s choice of Vineyard Wind — rather than Ørsted/Eversource — for 804 megawatts of offshore wind power, would not cancel out the intended investment of $57.5 million into the infrastructure of State Pier. “Despite some of

More