OLR Bill Analysis

sHB 6510 (as amended by House “A”)*

AN ACT ESTABLISHING A PUBLIC POWER AUTHORITY.

SUMMARY:

This bill creates the Connecticut Electric Authority as a quasi-public agency and specifies its purposes, which include increasing the state's energy independence by promoting conservation and efficiency and minimizing the costs of electric services to state consumers. The authority is governed by a seven-member board whose members are appointed by the governor and legislative leaders.

The bill allows the authority to contract with electricity generators to buy power for standard service. (Electric companies must provide this service to small and medium customers who do not choose a competitive supplier). The contracts are subject to Department of Public Utility Control (DPUC) approval. It also allows the authority to own and operate power plants and hire staff.

The bill has several provisions to avoid conflicts of interest between authority members and employees and the electric industry. These generally mirror conflict of interest provisions that apply to DPUC. The bill subjects the authority's members and employees to the State Ethics Code and applies the code of ethics for lobbyists to the authority.

The bill allows the authority to issue revenue bonds, with the State Bond Commission's approval, with terms of up to 40 years, and use their proceeds to implement the DPUC-approved integrated resources plan. (This plan meets the needs of electric company customers through a mix of conservation and supply measures. ) The authority can issue bonds that are subject to federal taxes. The bonds are not state or municipal obligations and must state this on their face. The bonds are subject to standard statutory provisions as to how they can be issued and repaid, bondholder protections, and who can invest in them. The bill imposes various duties on the state treasurer as the authority's agent in handling the authority's funds.

The bill allows the authority to establish special capital reserve funds (SCRFs) to back the bonds. Generally these bonds can be used only for electric generation projects. The bill caps the maximum amount of bonds that can be backed by SCRFs at $ 450 million. SCRF-backed bonds are a contingent liability or potential financial responsibility of the state that may become a real financial responsibility if the authority fails to pay the debt service for SCRF-backed bonds it has issued.

The bill exempts the authority and its bonds from state and local taxes, but requires lessees of the authority to make payments in lieu of taxes (PILOTs).

The bill transfers, from DPUC to the authority, the responsibility for overseeing the process by which electric companies procure power for their standard service customers. It makes a number of changes in this process. It also transfers, from DPUC to the authority, the responsibility for overseeing the development and implementation of electric company integrated resources plans, under which they meet their customers' needs through a mix of efficiency programs, power purchases, and other measures. The bill requires the authority to be consulted on a number of energy-related matters.

Under the bill, the authority is funded by the systems benefits charge, a charge on electric company bills that pays for various public policies.

The bill integrates existing energy efficiency and renewable energy programs. Under current law, electric and gas companies submit their conservation plans to DPUC for approval in the case of electric companies, the plans are first reviewed by the Energy Conservation Management Board (ECMB). The administrator of the fuel oil conservation program submits a plan to the Fuel Oil Conservation Board for its approval. The bill eliminates the Fuel Oil Conservation Board and transfers its responsibilities to ECMB. It requires DPUC to approve a comprehensive conservation plan based on proposals from electric and gas companies and the administrator of the fuel oil conservation program, following a review by ECMB.

It requires that DPUC appoint new members to ECMB and expands ECMB's membership to include a representative of the Renewable Energy Investments Board, which administers the Clean Energy Fund.

The bill expands ECMB's role to include:

1. facilitating the coordination and integration of conservation and renewable resources programs to simplify consumer access to integrated services of all available resources, minimize each program's administrative expenses, and reduce environmental impacts and security risks of energy in the state;

2. evaluating programs contained in the comprehensive conservation plan that covers electric and gas company and deliverable fuels;

3. holding an annual public hearing on conservation plans and their implementation, and considering comments at the hearing in its deliberations on future conservation plans;

4. advising the Connecticut Municipal Electric Cooperative (CMEEC) on municipal electric utility conservation programs;

5. collaborating with the Department of Social Services (DSS) regarding coordination of energy and weatherization assistance programs; and

6. consolidating reports to the legislature on conservation and renewable resources programs.

Under current law, gas and heating oil conservation programs are funded by growth in revenues from taxes on these fuels. Electric company conservation programs are funded by a surcharge on electric rates. The bill retains these funding streams but (1) allows the oil revenue to be used to conserve other deliverable fuels, such as propane and (2) eliminates a cap on funding for the deliverable fuels program.

Under current law, there are separate requirements for annual reports to the legislature on the electric and gas company and heating oil conservation programs and the programs supported by the Clean Energy Fund. The bill eliminates these requirements and instead requires ECMB to submit a consolidated annual report.

The bill imposes various responsibilities on DSS regarding energy assistance and weatherization program planning and reporting and makes several related changes.

*House Amendment “A” adds the provisions integrating energy efficiency and renewable energy programs. It also (1) bars the Connecticut Electric Authority from selling power directly to consumers and instead requires that it sell power to the electric companies and CMEEC; (2) requires State Bond Commission approval for the authority to issue bonds and delays its ability to issue bonds by one year; (3) requires that the contracts between the authority and generators conform to statutory rate-making principles; (4) requires DPUC to consult with the electric companies in deciding whether to approve these contracts; (5) eliminates the authority's ability to serve as “builder of last resort”; (6) eliminates the authority's ability to appear before federal agencies and the attorney general's authority to retain outside counsel for the authority for this purpose; (7) eliminates several transfers of responsibilities from the Office of Policy and Management (OPM) and DPUC to the authority; and (8) makes minor changes.

EFFECTIVE DATE: October 1, 2009, except the bonding provisions are effective October 1, 2010 and the provisions regarding the ECMB, integration of conservation and renewable energy programs, and DSS responsibilities are effective July 1, 2009.

PURPOSES OF THE AUTHORITY

Under the bill, the authority must:

1. increase the state's energy independence by promoting conservation and efficiency and the use of diverse indigenous and regional electric resources;

2. encourage the use of new electric technologies, particularly those that support economic development in Connecticut and promote environmental sustainability;

3. minimize costs of electric services to state consumers while maintaining reliable service;

4. discourage undue price volatility of electric service; and

5. encourage competition, when in the interests of state consumers.

The authority must act in accordance with the state's integrated resources plan, which requires electric companies to determine their customer's needs and meet them through a mixture of energy efficiency and power purchases.

BOARD OF DIRECTORS

Under the bill, the board consists of a chairperson the governor appoints and six members legislative leaders appoint, as described in Table 1. The legislature must approve the chairperson in the same way it approves a commissioner or other department head. The chairperson has a four-year term and the other members serve two-year terms coterminous with the appointing authority's term. The bill adds the chairperson to the Connecticut Energy Advisory board, which has a number of energy planning responsibilities.

Table 1: Authority Board of Directors

Appointing Authority

With experience in

Senate President Pro Tempore

Electricity regulation

House Speaker

Electricity generation

Senate majority leader

Electricity consumer issues

House majority leader

Electricity consumer issues

Senate minority leader

Electricity conservation issues

House minority leader

Electricity conservation issues

AUTHORITY POWERS

The bill allows the authority to contract with electricity generators to buy power for standard service. It also allows the authority to own and operate power plants.

Contracting with Generators

The bill allows the authority to negotiate contracts with electricity generators for power for standard service. This is the service electric companies must provide to small and medium customers who do not choose a competitive supplier. The negotiation may be tied to financing or providing other assistance to a generator to build or rebuild a generation facility. The contracts must be in ratepayers' best interests and reduce electricity costs for the affected consumers. DPUC must review the contracts in consultation with the electric companies. It must approve a contract if it determines that it meets these conditions and is consistent with statutory ratemaking principles. Upon DPUC's approval, an electric company must enter into the contract with the generator.

Staffing

The bill allows the authority to:

1. under the direction of its executive director, hire personnel, and adopt any policies for internal organization as necessary;

2. contract with the Connecticut Municipal Electric Energy Cooperative for administrative services.

The bill requires the authority's chairperson, with the consent of two or more of its other six members, to appoint an executive director to be the authority's chief administrative officer. The chairperson supervises the executive director, who serves a four-year term and annually receives a salary equal to the management pay plan salary group 72 the Commissioner of Administrative Services establishes.

Subject to the board's ultimate hiring authority, the executive director must require all staff to have expertise in public utility engineering and accounting, finance, economics, computers, and rate design. Subject to civil service law and within available funds in any fiscal year, the executive director may appoint a secretary and may employ the professional and clerical staff, experts, consultants, and agents as the authority may require.

The executive director must (1) conduct comprehensive planning with respect to the authority's functions; (2) coordinate the authority's activities; and (3) have its administrative organization examined to promote economy and efficiency

The executive director may (1) enter into contracts, in accordance with the authority's procedures, as may be needed to perform his or her duties and (2) subject to state revenue accounting law and unless otherwise provided by law, receive money, revenue, or services from the federal government, corporations, associations, and individuals.

CONFLICTS OF INTEREST

The bill prohibits members of the authority, for one year following terminating service, from accepting employment: (1) by a utility or by any lobbyist regarding governmental regulation of utilities; or (2) by an electric supplier or by any lobbyist regarding governmental regulation of electric suppliers. No member who is an attorney may appear or participate in any matter, or accept any compensation regarding a matter, before the authority, for a period of one year after terminating his or her service as a member.

The bill bars officers, employees, attorneys or agents of any utility, certified telecommunications provider, or electric supplier from being a member or employee of the authority.

The bill prohibits the authority's members and employees from:

1. while serving, engaging in or having an interest, financial or otherwise, direct or indirect, in any business, employment, transaction, or professional activity or incur any obligation of any nature, that substantially conflicts with the proper discharge of their duties or employment in the public interest (although no such conflict exists solely because an authority member or employee, or any business in which he or she has an interest, receives service from Connecticut utilities under normal rates and conditions of service);

2. accept other employment that will impair their independence of judgment or require or induce them to disclose confidential information acquired in the course of their official duties;

3. willfully and knowingly disclosing, for financial gain, confidential information acquired due to their official duties or employment or use any such information for financial gain; or

4. accept any employment, fee or other thing of value for appearing, agreeing to appear, or taking any other action on behalf of another person before the authority, the Siting Council, OPM, or the Commissioner of Environmental Protection.

The provisions of the fourth provision do not bar an authority member or employee from being remunerated to appear before the DPUC.

ETHICS

The bill subjects the authority to the state ethics code and the ethics code for lobbyists. This means these people (1) must, among other things, comply with the code and (2) may not take certain actions while employed by these entities and after they leave their employ. The Office of State Ethics has jurisdiction over them for the purpose of enforcing the code. The bill also subjects them to (1) prohibitions against disclosing confidential information to bidders on state contracts, (2) gift, affidavit, and certification requirements under the law covering large state contracts, and (3) the law on pension revocations.

Among other things, this means that authority members and employees may not:

1. have any financial interest in, or engage in, any business, employment, transaction, or professional activity that substantially conflicts with the proper discharge of their duties or employment in the public interest and their responsibilities;

2. accept other employment which will either impair their independent judgment as to their official duties or employment or require or induce them to disclose confidential information acquired in the course of and by reason of their official duties;

3. willfully and knowingly disclose, for financial gain, confidential information acquired in the course of their official duties or employment: and

4. use their public office or position or any confidential information received from the office or position to obtain financial gain for that person, a member of their family, or an associated business.

BONDING

Revenue Bonds

The bill allows the authority, with the State Bond Commission's approval, to issue revenue bonds with terms of up to 40 years and use their proceeds for its purposes. The bill does not address whether the State Bond Commission also must approve these bonds. The authority can issue bonds that are subject to federal taxes. The bonds are not state or municipal obligations and must state so on their face. The bonds are subject to standard statutory provisions as to how they can be issued and repaid, bondholder protections, and who can invest in them.

Special Capital Reserve Fund

Under the bill the authority can issue bonds that are backed by one or more SCRFs. These bonds are general obligations of the authority payable out of its resources, subject only to agreements with the holders of particular bonds pledging particular resources. The bill caps the maximum amount of bonds that can be backed by SCRFs at $ 450 million.  

The money in the SCRF generally can only be used for paying the principal of bonds it secures as they become due, buying the authority's bonds, and paying interest on the bonds or any redemption premium that must be paid when the bonds are redeemed before maturity. Although bonds secured by SCRFs are not backed by the state's full faith and credit, the state undertakes a contingent liability for the bonds by authorizing the authority to establish the funds.

The authority can specify a “required minimum capital reserve” when issuing these bonds. By December 1st, annually, there is deemed to be appropriated from the General Fund enough money, if needed, as certified by the authority chairperson to the OPM secretary and state treasurer, to restore each SCRF to its minimum capital reserve of such fund. This amount must be allotted and paid to the authority. Subject to any agreements with bondholders, the authority must repay any amount paid to it under this provision from its resources when the money is not required for any other of the authority's corporate purposes. In any event, the amount must be repaid within one year after all of the authority's bonds are discharged.

EXEMPTION OF THE AUTHORITY FROM TAXES

General Provisions

The bill exempts the authority from state and local taxes. It specifically exempts the authority's sale of tangible personal property or services from the sales tax. It also exempts from state and local taxes the bonds and notes issued under the bill, their transfer, and the income from selling them. The bill exempts the authority and its projects, properties, money or bonds and notes from being subject to lien of any kind for the enforcement, collection, or payment of these taxes.

Lease PILOTs

However, any person leasing a project from the authority must pay to the municipality, political subdivision, or special district where the project is located a payment in lieu of taxes (PILOT) equal to the taxes on real and personal property, including water and sewer assessments, that the lessee would have had to pay had it owned the property. Any lessee which has made this PILOT is not required to pay the taxes that were the subject of the PILOT.

The authority may agree to cooperate with the lessee in connection with any administrative or judicial proceedings to determine the validity or amount of such payments. The lessee must pay all of the authority's costs and expenses incurred at the lessee's request.

TRANSFERS OF RESPONSIBILITY

Procuring Power for Standard Service

The bill transfers, from DPUC to the authority, the responsibility for overseeing the process by which electric companies procure power for their standard service customers. Under current law, electric companies must procure power for their standard service under a plan that is subject to DPUC approval. The plan must contain various provisions to reduce price volatility.

The bill also makes several changes in this procurement process. Under current law, each company submitting a bid to provide electricity for standard service must submit it to the electric company and a third-party contractor selected by DPUC. Under the bill, the authority selects the consultant. The company and the consultant must review the bids and submit an overview of them, together with their joint recommendation, to the authority rather than DPUC. The bill additionally requires that they conduct a cost-based analysis of the bids. The bill requires the authority, in analyzing the bids, to determine if they are consistent with the state's integrated resource plan. It requires the authority to provide all of the bids it receives and the analyses of them to the Office of Consumer Counsel and the attorney general. These officials may not make the bids available to the public until the authority does so, three months after bidding is complete, unless the attorney general needs to share the information for law enforcement purposes. The bill allows the authority to reject bids that are not in the best interest of electric company customers. It requires electric companies to enter into contracts with approved bidders in accordance with contract terms established by the authority. It requires the authority, when it releases information about losing bidders, to do so in a way that conceals their identities.

Under the bill, biennially beginning October 1, 2010, the authority must conduct a contested case to review the efficacy of this contract procurement process for this service.

Other Transfers

The bill transfers a wide range of other responsibilities and duties from DPUC to the authority, as described in Table 2. It also requires that any state agency purchases of, or contracts for, generation services be done in cooperation with the authority, rather than with the Office of Policy and Management (OPM).

TABLE 2: DPUC RESPONSIBILITIES AND POWERS TRANSFERRED TO THE AUTHORITY

Bill Section (File 483)

Responsibility or Power

5

Overseeing electric company integrated resources procurement plans (by which they procure power and savings from conservation measures), developing an RFP if the plan calls for new generation, approving electric company proposals in response to the RFP, among other things.

6

May order electric companies to submit proposals to build power plants if responses to the RFP are insufficient to meet the goals set in the plan. Must study the costs and benefits of having the state serve as builder of last resort for any shortfall in generating capacity following issuance of the RFP.

15

Retaining a consultant to oversee the procurement of contracts for standard service power provided to small-and medium-size customers who do not choose a competitive supplier.

28

Reporting to the Energy and Technology Committee on whether the deadline for electric companies to propose new power plants should be extended.

37

Serving as agent for the state, at the direction of the governor, to procure power and related products and resell them to electric utilities in the state

CONSULTATIONS

The bill requires DPUC to consult with the authority in setting the systems benefits charge, a charge on electric company bills that pays for various public policies.

The law sets emission limits for certain power plants, but allows the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) to waive these limits if complying with them would threaten the reliability of the electric system. The bill requires DEP to consult with the authority, rather than with DPUC, in making this decision.

The bill requires the Department of Administrative Services to consult with the authority, rather than with OPM, when buying or contracting for electric power through competitive bidding or competitive negotiations.

By law, DPUC must consult with DEP, OPM, and the Siting Council at least annually to coordinate their actions pertaining to electric and gas companies. The bill requires that DPUC include the authority in these consultations.

By law, OPM must consult with DPUC in setting energy efficiency standards for a wide range of appliances and equipment. The bill additionally requires OPM to consult with the authority.

Under current law, the public works commissioner must consult with the OPM secretary and any advisory committee the secretary establishes in adopting regulations on lighting standards for public buildings. The bill instead requires the commissioner to consult with the authority and any advisory board it establishes.

INTEGRATION OF ENERGY EFFICIENCY PROGRAMS

501 — Energy Conservation Management Board (ECMB)

The bill requires DPUC to re-appoint members to the ECMB, which is currently responsible for reviewing electric and gas company conservation programs. DPUC can reappoint current members, who serve until the end of their current terms. DPUC must additionally appoint a representative of the Renewable Energy Investment Board, which administers the Clean Energy Fund, to the ECMB.

Under current law, there are separate provisions for electric company, municipal electric utility, gas company, and heating oil conservation programs and for programs to promote renewable energy. In addition, DSS administers separate weatherization and energy assistance programs for low-income consumers. The bill expands ECMB's role to include:

1. facilitating the coordination and integration of conservation and renewable resources programs to simplify consumer access to integrated services of all available resources, minimize administrative expenses of each program, and reduce environmental impacts and security risks of energy in the state;

2. evaluating programs contained in the comprehensive conservation plan established by the bill;

3. advising the CMEEC on municipal electric utility conservation programs;

4. collaborating with DSS regarding coordination of energy and weatherization assistance programs; and

5. consolidating reports to the legislature on conservation and renewable resources programs.

Under current law, the Fuel Oil Conservation Board is responsible for overseeing heating oil conservation programs and hiring an administrator for these programs. The bill eliminates this board and transfers its responsibilities to ECMB. It expands the heating oil program to cover other types of deliverable fuels such as propane. It requires ECMB to select an administrator by January 1, 2010. It must do so to the extent funding is available following a request for proposals. As under current law, the contract with the administrator can run for up to three years and the administrator's costs are paid from the fuel oil conservation account.

The law establishes a joint committee of ECMB and the Renewable Energy Investment Board. The bill specifies that this committee must act to reduce the longer cost, environmental impacts, and security risks of energy in the state.

502 — Funding of Conservation Programs

By law, gas conservation programs are funded by the amount of gas gross earnings tax revenue that is above the revenue estimate in the appropriations bill. This amount is capped at $ 10 million per year. The bill specifies that this revenue must go into a natural gas subaccount within the existing Energy Conservation Fund. It requires this money to be used for (1) gas programs contained in the comprehensive conservation plan (described below), (2) gas allocations of joint programs and (3) administrative expenses as provided in the plan. The bill allows this fund to receive any federal or other funds as may become available for conservation and load management and renewable resources.

Under current law, heating oil conservation programs are funded by the amount of the petroleum products gross earnings that exceeds the revenue collected from this tax in FY 06. Current law caps this amount at $ 5 million per year. The bill eliminates the cap after FY 09. It requires this money to be used for (1) deliverable fuel programs contained in the comprehensive conservation plan, (2) deliverable fuel allocations of joint programs, and (3) administrative expenses as provided in the plan. The bill requires ECMB to notify the comptroller of an approved amount to be drawn from the account for the bill's purposes. Within two business days following the board's notification, the comptroller must draw an order on the treasurer for payment of the requested amount from the fund.

By law, electric company conservation programs are funded by a surcharge on electric rates, which goes into the Conservation Fund. The bill allows the fund to receive (1) any amount required by law to be deposited in it and (2) any federal or other funds as may become available for conservation and load management and renewable resources.

By law, municipal electric utility customers pay a surcharge to pay for conservation programs that goes into a fund administered by CMEEC. The bill additionally allows this fund to receive other revenues, including federal funds.

Program Planning

Under current law, the fuel oil administrator submits a conservation plan to the Fuel Oil Conservation Board, which reviews and approves it. The bill instead requires the administrator to submit a deliverable fuels conservation plan to ECMB for review and DPUC for approval as part of the comprehensive conservation plan.

By law, each electric and gas company submits a separate conservation plan to DPUC for its approval. The bill additionally requires gas companies to submit their plans to ECMB for its review before they go to DPUC for approval, as is currently the case for electric company plans.

The bill requires that all of the plans (electric, gas, and deliverable fuels) include provisions to integrate conservation and renewable energy programs. It requires the companies and the administrator to submit their plans to ECMB for review and comment at least 60 days before submitting them to DPUC. ECMB, in reviewing these plans, must examine opportunities to simplify consumer access to the programs, minimize administrative expenses, and reduce environmental impacts and energy security risks for the state. It requires ECMB to consult with the Connecticut Energy Authority to ensure that the conservation programs are consistent with the integrated resources plans that the electric companies must develop.

By law, the board must, as part of its review of electric and gas plans, examine opportunities to offer joint programs providing similar efficiency measures that save more than one fuel resource or to otherwise coordinate programs targeted at saving more than one fuel resource. The bill extends this requirement to the deliverable fuels plan. It specifies that the board must do this to ensure available conservation and renewable resources are integrated, to the extent practicable, to (1) simplify consumer access to integrated services of all available resources, (2) minimize expenses in the administration of each program, and (3) reduce environmental impacts and security risks of energy in the state.

Under current law, each program in electric and gas company plans must be reviewed the company and be accepted, modified, or rejected by ECMB before the plan is submitted to the DPUC for approval. The bill requires ECMB to review and comment on the plans, and extends the latter provision to the deliverable fuels plan.

Upon receiving the individual plans, DPUC must hold a public hearing as part of an uncontested proceeding and approve, modify, or reject the plans and consolidate the approved or modified plans into a comprehensive conservation plan. The comprehensive plan must contain specific goals for reducing energy use that are consistent with those in the integrated resources plan. It must describe each program that is proposed to meet these goals; the amount of funds in the Conservation Fund and; if applicable, other sources to be used for each program and an estimate of the systemic savings that will be achieved if such goals are met.

The comprehensive plan must meet a number of conditions that apply under current law to the electric and gas company plans. To be included in the comprehensive plan, conservation programs must meet cost-effectiveness tests. The plan must give preference to electric efficiency and load management projects that maximize the reduction of federally mandated charges associated with congestion on the transmission system.

The approved comprehensive plan must cover the cost of the administrator of the deliverable fuels programs, the costs of developing and implementing the conservation programs, ECMB's administrative costs, and the cost of consultants it is allowed to retain. The plan must cover disbursements from the Conservation Fund to develop and carry out the comprehensive plan.

Under current law, ECMB's administrative and consultant costs cannot exceed more than 5% of money the revenues that fund the electric and gas conservation programs. The bill instead caps these costs at 5% of the cost of the comprehensive plan, including the deliverable fuels component.

Reporting Requirements

Under current law, ECMB must submit an annual report to the Energy and Technology Committee that evaluates the performance of the Conservation Fund's programs and activities. The Fuel Oil Conservation Board must submit an annual report to the Energy and Technology and Environment committees on expenditures and fund balances of the Heating Oil Conservation Account. That report must also evaluate the cost-effectiveness of programs conducted in the preceding year, including any increased cost-effectiveness due to offering programs that save more than one fuel resource.

The bill eliminates these requirements and instead requires ECMB to provide a consolidated report documenting conservation and renewable resource program operation and activities developed under these programs and the programs administered by gas companies, CMEEC, and the Renewable Energy Investment Board. The consolidated report must document:

1. expenditures and funding;

2. program integration, including the extent to and manner in which ECMB collaborated and cooperated with CMEEC, the DSS programs, and the joint or collaborative activities with the Clean Energy Fund;

3. evaluation of the cost-effectiveness of conservation programs and activities conducted in the preceding year, including any increased cost-effectiveness, including reduced administrative expenses, achieved by offering programs that save more than one fuel resource and integrating programs;

4. the extent to which plan goals and systemic savings were achieved for reducing energy use in the state; and

5. in detail, the activities of the Clean Energy. Each of the affected entities must provide documentation and information for the consolidated report. Any costs for the consolidated annual reports must be allocated equitably among the entities responsible for the reports.

The consolidated report must be sent to the Energy and Technology, Environment, and Commerce committees.

Renewable Energy

By law, the Clean Energy Fund is supported by a surcharge on electric company bills. The bill allows the fund to receive other revenues, in addition to this surcharge and federal funds.

By law, the 15-member Renewable Energy Investments Board (REIB) administers the Clean Energy Fund. The bill adds an ECMB member to REIB. It requires REIB to (1) ensure that available conservation and renewable resources programs are integrated, (2) simplify consumer access to integrated programs, (3) minimize administrative expenses, (4) reduce environmental risks, and (5) reduce energy security risks in the state.

By law, REIB must develop a comprehensive renewable energy plan. The bill requires that this plan go to the ECMB and the Environment Committee in addition to the Energy and Technology and Commerce committees. It requires that REIB annually submit documentation to ECMB for its consolidated report to the legislature rather than submitting a separate report.

The bill eliminates requirements that CMEEC:

1. develop standards for the promotion of renewable resources that apply to each municipal electric utility and annually submit these standards to the Renewable Energy Investment Committee by January 1; and

2. report annually to this committee by April 1 on municipal utility activities promoting renewable energy.

Department of Social Services Responsibilities

The law requires DSS to develop an annual energy assistance plan. The bill requires the plan to include the department's system for (1) identifying households to whom it provides cash or other assistance, who also may be eligible for conservation assistance; (2) obtaining their approval to send information about them to facilitate their participation in the conservation programs; and (3) transmitting this information. DSS must consult with ECMB in developing this system, which must be part of its intake and eligibility redetermination procedures. The bill expands the department's report to the legislature to cover the number of households from whom it obtained permission and sent this information.

Under the bill, DSS-funded or -administered weatherization assistance must be integrated, to the extent practicable, with conservation programs to simplify consumer access to integrated services of all available resources and minimize each program's administrative expenses. The DSS commissioner must submit any plan for spending money for weatherization assistance plan to ECMB for advice regarding the plan and integration of such weatherization assistance with conservation programs. DSS must do this at least one month before adopting any such plan or submitting a submitting a plan to the legislature or its committees or any federal agency. The commissioner must provide a copy of any final weatherization assistance plan before its implementation to ECMB and the Energy and Technology, Environment, and Human Services committees. DSS must simultaneously report ECMB's comments and the extent to which weatherization assistance is integrated with other available conservation programs.

Other Provisions

The bill sets a goal to reduce statewide energy consumption by 10% per capita by 2015 compared to 2006 through energy efficiency and conservation measures.

The bill requires OPM to establish a program to reduce energy use in state buildings by at least 10% by January 1, 2010.

By law, OPM must include certain information about state agency conservation plans and programs in the biennial budget. The bill requires OPM to submit this information to the Energy and Technology, Environment, and Commerce committees.

The bill expands the entities that receive the biennial forecast of gas company loads and resources to include ECMB and the Environment and Commerce committees. The forecast already goes local officials, legislative leaders, and the Energy and Technology Committee, among others.

By law, DPUC, ECMB, and the electric companies must place information regarding the Energy Star conservation program on their websites. The bill extends these requirements to apply to the Connecticut Energy Authority, the Renewable Energy Resources Board, gas companies, and municipal electric utilities. It also requires these web sites to have links to (1) information on conservation and renewable resources programs describes in the comprehensive conservation plan and (2) web sites for other conservation assistance that may be available to Connecticut residents, including rebate programs and tax exemptions or reductions.

COMMITTEE ACTION

Energy and Technology Committee

Joint Favorable Substitute

Yea

15

Nay

6

(03/19/2009)

Government Administration and Elections Committee

Joint Favorable

Yea

9

Nay

3

(04/20/2009)

Finance, Revenue and Bonding Committee

Joint Favorable

Yea

26

Nay

24

(04/27/2009)