Energy and Technology Committee

JOINT FAVORABLE REPORT

Bill No.:

SB-357

Title:

AN ACT CONCERNING ENERGY EFFICIENT BUILDING STANDARDS AND PRODUCT EFFICIENCY STANDARDS.

Vote Date:

3/18/2014

Vote Action:

Joint Favorable Substitute

PH Date:

3/4/2014

File No.:

SPONSORS OF BILL:

Energy and Technology Committee

Representative Mary M. Mushinsky, 85th District

REASONS FOR BILL:

The bill eliminates the requirement that manufacturers of products certified by the California Energy Commission submit documentation of said certification to the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection, and requires the Department to list on its web site products certified to meet California standards and those that have been determined to be in compliance with standards adopted by the Department. Removing this requirement would enable the Department to clarify which products are compliant with Connecticut's energy efficiency standards while providing a more efficient means to disseminate this information. This would also give the Department enhanced flexibility to adopt new efficiency standards, which in the past has helped foster a nationwide market environment that offers more efficient products.

SUBSTITUTE LANGUAGE:

Strikes the original Sections 1 and 2 and renumbers Section 3 as Section 1.

Section 2 forms the Bridgeport Thermal Limited Liability Company, which would be authorized to furnish heat or air conditioning or both from plants in the City of Bridgeport, and to install and maintain conduits or other fixtures responsible for carrying heated or chilled water from said plants to locations to which heat or air conditioning or both are to be provided.

Section 3 amends the definition of energy improvements to include participation in a microgrid that incorporates clean energy. This includes also infrastructure for said microgrid.

Section 4 mandates that the Clean Energy Finance and Investment Authority submit a report that evaluates the necessity of a residential property assessed clean energy program.

Section 5 changes the name of the Clean Energy Finance and Investment Authority to the Connecticut Green Bank.

Section 6 enables electric distribution companies to recover costs pertaining to the Clean Energy Finance and Investment Authority residential clean energy on-bill repayment program.

Section 7 changes from optional to mandatory a provision instructing the Commissioner of the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection to direct electric distribution companies to enter into power purchase agreements.

Sections 8-17 updates statutes related to the Underground Damage Prevention Program, also known as the “Call Before You Dig” program. These statutes have not been updated to reflect technological advancements or new federal regulation, and the Public Utilities Regulatory Authority has cited expanded excavation pending under the Comprehensive Energy Strategy/Natural Gas Expansion Initiative as an impetus to revise these out-of-date statutes.

Sections 18 and 19 enable the Public Utilities Regulatory Authority to order water companies to extend service to properties determined by the Authority to have a deficient well system.

Section 20 mandates that the Public Utilities Regulatory Authority study the feasibility of allowing nonprofit entities to aggregate electric meters that are billable to said entities.

RESPONSE FROM ADMINISTRATION/AGENCY:

Robert J. Klee, Commissioner, Department of Energy and Environmental Protection: The Department of Energy and Environmental Protection is in favor of the bill, as it would provide public access to this information will clarify which products are compliant with Connecticut law. This language in Section 3 (now Section 1) of the bill provides a balanced way to efficiently manage information regarding consumer products' compliance with energy efficiency standards. The Department also stated that Section 1 would allow municipalities to include additional energy efficiency requirements beyond what is enumerated in the statewide building code, as advances in building technologies and a delay in adoption of more current building codes have resulted in residents not receiving sufficient energy benefits that otherwise could be easily obtained.

The Substitute Language strikes Section 1 from the bill

Joseph Cassidy, State Building Inspector/Director of Design and Construction, Department of Administrative Services: The Department of Administrative Services supports Sections 2 and 3 of the raised bill, while raising concerns with Section 1 on the grounds that allowing towns to adopt their own alternative high performance standards may create confusion for local building inspectors in determining whether a building is in compliance.

These concerns were addressed in the Substitute Language.

NATURE AND SOURCES OF SUPPORT:

Lauren Savidge, Staff Attorney/Climate & Energy Specialist, Connecticut Fund for the Environment (CFE): Ms. Savidge stated at the beginning of her written testimony that CFE supports the bill, but no further reasons were offered as to why CFE offered its support.

William E. Dornbos, Connecticut Director, Environment Northeast (ENE): Mr. Dornbos testified that Section 1 of the bill would allow Connecticut's cities to create a template for innovation with regards to efficient building energy use. He also stated that updating the State Building Code's energy-related provisions is a lengthy process that could be circumvented by this legislation.

The Substitute Language strikes Section 1 from the bill.

Connecticut Conference of Municipalities (CCM): In its written testimony, CCM states that Section 1 of the bill grants cities and towns the flexibility to adopt “high-performance building construction standards for new commercial construction” in order to provide greater energy efficiency and greener communities. CCM also requested a fiscal analysis to determine the impact of Section 2 on municipalities.

The Substitute Language strikes Section 1 from the bill, and the concerns expressed about Section 2 were addressed in the Substitute Language.

Kevin Rose, Building Energy Technical Associate, Northeast Energy Efficiency Partnerships (NEEP): In his written testimony, Mr. Rose said NEEP supports Section 3 (now Section 1) of the bill since appliance energy efficiency standards are a cost-effective tool for reducing energy usage while enhancing the quality of products on the market. He also was supportive of the provision in Section 2 that would utilize the Energy Star Target Finder rating system for state facilities. However, he added that the energy rating targets in Section 1 would be incompatible with any changes to Connecticut's energy code.

Changes Recommended:

In Section 1, amend energy rating standards to ensure said standards remain above code.

In Section 1, encapsulate these standards in an appendix to the State Building Code.

In Section 2, utilize criteria established by the Northeast Collaborative for High Performance Schools (NE-CHPS) for new public school construction or renovations. NEEP states that the construction techniques employed by NE-CHPS would reduce carbon emissions, improve environmental quality and reduce costs.

The Substitute Language strikes Sections 1 and 2 from the bill.

Lynn Taborsak, Climate Change Specialist, League of Women Voters of Connecticut: Ms. Taborsak stated in her testimony that rigorous building code standards proposed in Section 1 of the bill will help to conserve energy.

The Substitute Language strikes Section 1 from the bill.

NATURE AND SOURCES OF OPPOSITION:

Bill Ethier, Chief Executive Officer, Home Builders & Remodelers Association of Connecticut Inc.: Mr. Ethier testified that Section 1 of the raised bill establishes the dangerous precedent of permitting cities and towns to adopt standards differing from the statewide building code. He also objected to the anticipated use of building rating systems that he described as “vague, fluid and non-consensus.”

These concerns were addressed in the Substitute Language.

Connecticut Council of Small Towns: In its written testimony, the Council expressed concern that Section 1 would create pressure on municipalities to enact changes to the state building code without a sufficient understanding of how said changes could impact building and resident safety. The Council also stated they expected considerable confusion were codes to differ from town to town.

These concerns were addressed in the Substitute Language.

Diane Jones, Chief Executive Officer, American Institute of Architects: Ms. Jones stated in written testimony that allowing any municipality to adopt its own construction standards as proposed in Section 1 will undermine the benefits of a uniform code. She also expressed that Section 1 of the bill would create confusion throughout the design and building industry.

These concerns were addressed in the Substitute Language.

Paul W. Brady, Executive Director, American Council of Engineering Companies of Connecticut: Mr. Brady testified that Section 1 of the bill would increase the
“complexity and cost of design and construction” throughout the state, while delaying the recovery of commercial and residential construction industries from the financial downturn.

These concerns were addressed in the Substitute Language.

Debra Chamberlain, President, Connecticut Realtors: In her testimony, Ms. Chamberlain stated that Section 1 of the bill would force property owners to provide energy scores for their properties before selling or leasing them, a practice she said would prove costly to these individuals. She added that this section would impede the recovery of the state's fragile housing market and would likely inflict unforeseen costs upon Connecticut homebuyers.

These concerns were addressed in the Substitute Language.

Henry M. Miga, Chairman, Codes & Standards Committee, Department of Administrative Services: Mr. Miga describes Section 1 of the bill as cumbersome and costly, and stated that the Section is not supported by the Codes & Standards Committee, state building officials or the construction industry. He also testified that “putting performance standards in Statute has not been shown to be functional and practical in the long run.”

These concerns were addressed in the Substitute Language.

Reported by: Jared Savas

Date: March 21, 2014