Michigan Utilities Plan Most Energy Efficiency Ever in State – NRDC Article

Written in collaboration with Annika Brink of the National Housing Trust.

Michigan can expect lower energy bills, less energy consumption, and less pollution as a result of plans to significantly expand utility energy efficiency programs.  NRDC, the National Housing Trust (NHT), the Michigan Public Service Commission staff, and other interested parties recently reached agreement with Consumers Energy and DTE Energy to achieve more yearly energy savings than ever before by doubling down on energy efficiency programs.

New Law, New Opportunity

Since the passage of 2008’s energy legislation, Michigan’s big electric utilities like DTE and Consumers have had to submit plans describing how they will meet the required level of energy efficiency savings. The initial 2009 target for energy savings was equal to only 0.3 percent of total annual electricity sales and the utilities invested a combined $49 million dollars resulting in $233 million in benefits, for net electric bill savings of $184 million. That means for every dollar spent, we all got nearly five dollars back in benefits. Between then and now, the yearly investment and savings have only grown, with the cumulative effect of the efficiency programs run between 2009 and 2016 being a net electric bill savings of $3.3 billion!

Now, thanks to a new component in the 2016 energy laws, we can expect even more savings. Through the new law, the annual savings target is up to 1 percent with additional financial incentives available to the utilities who achieve even greater levels of savings. As a result, both utilities submitted and have been approved to increase their electric savings goals by 50 percent, to a record 1.5 percent of utilities’ total electricity sales each year—with DTE submitting a two-year plan and Consumers submitting a four-year plan.

The newly approved plans will invest a combined $222 million per year, resulting in over $1 billion per year in electricity cost reductions, for net bill savings of over $800 million annually. In other words, for every dollar spent on energy efficiency, customers are continuing to save around five times as much in avoided investment in extra energy consumption and on new power plants that would have been needed to meet that demand. All told, assuming DTE continues at the same proposed level for all four years, these expanded plans will produce over $3 billion dollars in additional electric bill savings for families across Michigan by 2021. And this is just on the electric side.


For context, the utilities’ programs will now be producing enough new savings each year to meet the entire electricity needs of about 150,000 Michigan homes. And that’s the effect of just one year of efficiency programs.  Since the savings from most efficiency measures last a decade or more, the cumulative effects of the programs will grow dramatically over time, enough to match the electricity consumption of more than half a million homes in the next four years.


Planning for Success

Last January, NRDC and NHT entered the Consumers case to review and provide feedback on the company’s plan. From January to December we worked alongside Commission staff and the utility to come to an approved settlement agreement. At the end of June, we began a similar process with DTE that resulted in the settlement agreement approved in April. In addition to significantly increasing the total amount of energy savings they will both achieve, the plans increase their commitment to providing efficiency benefits to its low-income customers, include a state-of-the art approach to capturing savings from affordable multi-family buildings, commit to exploring how to use efficiency programs to reduce the cost of capital investment in the “poles and wires” that bring power to homes and businesses, and structure its key performance metrics to promote savings that last longer and provide for low-income customers.

Low-Income Program Improvements

Low-income customers and those customers in affordable multifamily housing have garnered increasing attention in recent years, as stakeholders across the spectrum of utility, housing, energy, state agencies, and local governments have realized how underserved these communities have been. NHT, NRDC, DTE, Consumers, and other local stakeholders, have been grappling with this topic formally in Michigan since 2015 as part of the Energy Efficiency for All initiative. Collaboratively, stakeholders discussed many topics, including how to best structure utility offerings, streamline the customer experience, provide easy-to-access whole-building data, and better reach owners preparing for periodic financing events. The results have been tremendous.

From 2009 to 2016, combined Consumers and DTE investment in low-income programs rose from a yearly $4 million dollars per year to $11 million dollars per year. Looking forward, DTE and Consumers are planning to spend more than $17 million per year from 2018 through 2021!

Digging into the program design a bit, both Consumers’ and DTE’s plans agreed to major program design improvements, including increases in measure incentives and a one-stop-shop/whole-building approach that will offer customers many free measures and experiment with different rebate levels for the other measures it offers. DTE will also be dedicating new funding over two years to deliver energy efficiency to low-income customers who are behind on their bills. This marks a creative new approach for using bill payment status as a way to target customers at risk of shut-off and pair bill assistance with energy efficiency upgrades in an attempt to break the cycle of high utility bills.

Reaping the Rewards

Michigan has been benefitting from energy efficiency programs for years, and with the new legislation’s incentives for increased investment in efficiency plans and efficiency emphasis in the integrated resource plans, we can look forward to reaping more rewards than ever before. To make sure you’re taking advantage of all the great energy efficiency offerings, visit your utility’s website (DTEConsumers Energy) to see what program works for you and what upgrades can help you start saving money today!

ABOUT THE AUTHORS

ARIANA GONZALEZ

Energy Policy Analyst, Climate & Clean Energy Program
Click here to view website.

Thanks to energy efficiency, Michigan residents save billions of dollars on utility bills – Yale Climate Connections Article

It turns out that small actions really do add up.

01 : 30 (MIN:SEC)

 

In Michigan, investing in energy efficiency is paying off for the climate and the wallet.

To meet state requirements for reducing wasted energy, Michigan utilities have implemented a range of energy efficiency programs. For example, some offer customers free energy audits and rebates for efficient appliances.

The energy efficiency programs are funded by a surcharge on customer utility bills. But for every dollar they’re charged, customers have saved, on average, more than four.

Gonzalez: “The cumulative effect of the efficiency programs between 2009 and 2016 was a net bill savings of three point three billion dollars.”

That’s Ariana Gonzalez with the Natural Resources Defense Council. She says now the state is working to ensure that energy efficiency programs reach low-income homeowners and renters.

She says lower energy bills can free up a little extra money for other necessities, such as groceries or rent.

Gonzalez: “We see energy efficiency as having a huge impact on people’s everyday lives. Annually the savings may be around a couple hundred bucks for a homeowner or renter, and thousands of dollars for a building owner. Each month’s savings can really add up to make a difference.”

Reporting credit: Sarah Kennedy/ChavoBart Digital Media.

For full article click here.

Walmart saves $200 million by changing its light bulbs – CNBC Article

Walmart saves $200 million by changing its light bulbs and $20 million with a new floor wax

 

  • Walmart’s size means that small changes yield big results.
  • Walmart says switching to LED lights in its parking lots cut its annual energy costs by $200 million.
  • A change in the floor wax it uses cut costs by $20 million a year because the floors need to be buffed less often.

The multiplying power of size makes it easy to save big money on little changes.

Imagine saving millions of dollars just by changing light bulbs and floor wax. It’s exactly what Walmart is doing.

“We are in the process of a multiyear rollout of replacing all fluorescent fixtures with LEDs in our stores, clubs and parking lots,” Chief Financial Officer Brett Biggs told analysts Tuesday at the retailer’s investor day at its headquarters, in Bentonville, Arkansas. “Not only is it good for the environment, these changes could reduce our annual energy costs by $200 million over time.”

In the U.S. alone, Walmart buys tens of billions of dollars’ worth of goods and services used for the business that aren’t sold in its stores, a category called “goods not for resale.” These are goods like travel services or maintenance supplies.

One of those items, is floor wax for stores, which the world’s largest retailer recently changed.

“Not only is the new wax cheaper, it’s also sturdier. It doesn’t need to be buffed as often, resulting in less spent on the actual buffing, as well as fuel for the machines,” Biggs said. “That one change in floor wax will save us over $20 million a year.”

It’s savings on a major scale.

Walmart’s founding principle is “everyday low price,4” which can only be achieved by everyday low cost. The more Walmart saves on the cost side, the more shoppers save at checkout.

Read full article at  https://www.cnbc.com/amp/2018/10/16/walmart-saves-200-million-by-changing-its-light-bulbs.html

EFA members receive awards at from Connecticut Fund for the Environment 10-2018

EFA is a local nonprofit which works with communities, leaders, and the EE workforce to raise awareness on the value and importance of energy efficiency to our economy, workforce, health, energy stability, environment, and rising energy costs in Connecticut.

Last week, two EFA members were awarded for their efforts to protect the ratepayer funds and the local energy efficiency programs & services.

Stephanie Weiner, Leticia Colon de Mejias and Vivian Perez (not pictured) were key plaintiffs in the legal filing against the latest state of Connecticut raid on the energy efficiency funds and renewable energy funds.

Their efforts along with key support from E4 the Future were critical to the legal action taken to protect the ratepayers and our clean energy future.

Efficiency remains the least expensive and most efficient clean energy resource we can deploy.

Learn more about the legal case and positive outcomes EE provides Connecticut’s. Join EFA in our effort to increase energy efficiency and to educate the public about the value and importance of energy efficiency to a stable energy future.

Efficiency is the least expensive clean energy resource that we can deploy. Efficiency is the fastest way to reach both our economic and environmental goals. Simply put, “Efficiency is Efficient.”

The Value & Simplicity of EE to CT

We all need energy and there is a strong growing movement to convert our nation to 100 percent clean energy.  It is not possible to meet the 100 % clean energy goals without implementing energy efficiency (EE) broadly across our state and our nation!

Climate change is real, yet our leaders seem paralyzed.  We don’t have to throw the baby out with the bathwater, or give up hope on our work to lower our dependence on fossil fuel.

Yes, even if your friends and family have gone to the dark side and no longer believe in Facts; you can have a safe conversation about energy efficiency.  Unlike energy or climate modeling, efficiency has been proven to have amazing positive impacts on everything from our economy to our environment.  Efficiency is one of the things that we can all agree upon and support.

Here are some facts when discussing energy policy in a non confrontational, nonpartisan way:

  • EE increases local jobs, and generates local & federal taxes.   

  • EE lowers energy costs and energy waste.

  • Lowering our energy waste also lowers the impacts of burning fossil fuel,  as well as protect our health and the environment.

  • EE lowers pollution caused by burning fossil fuel as it strengthens our energy grid.

  • EE avoids the need to build new energy plants which cost us money, providing even deeper savings for our residents and state.

In fact, if we implement enough efficiency, in time we can actually reach our 100% percent clean energy goals, all while relying on EE’s proven ability to reduce energy waste and the negative effects of burning fossil fuels.

I’m all for clean cars and community solar.  However, they are expensive and some people don’t even own cars. Buying an electric car won’t reduce carbon pollution unless you power it with clean energy.

clean car powered by polluting electricity generation production. Polluting fossil oil, coal, nuclear, and other non-renewal power plants

 

There is much more pollution created by heating and cooling our homes and buildings than there is from transportation. We can immediately reduce this energy generated pollution through proven simple low cost technologies such as cellulose insulation, air sealing those leaky old homes, installing efficiency lighting & timers, efficiency-based heating and cooling systems, better windows, and power strips.

For example, my team worked on a project where we installed LED lights, insulation and windows in 13 New England homes. We then tracked the energy bills for three years. We reduced the energy waste by approximately 30 percent in each home. Yes, 30 percent annual savings on heat and cooling electric use. That’s 30 percent less pollution from each home. They also are more comfortable homes, safer, and are realizing the financial benefits of not wasting energy.

It is important to look at the facts on Efficiency Efficiency and building science. I am all for aiming for the stars, but we must also pick the low hanging fruit and be sustainable while we aim higher for the 100 percent clean energy goals.

No matter our political party, we can all get behind EE.

Leticia Colon de Mejias 
Save Energy, Save Dinero, Be a Hero for the Planet and your family

Why we need to do something more for EE – NPR Article – 31 Percent Of U.S. Households Have Trouble Paying Energy Bills

Full article: https://www.npr.org/2018/09/19/649633468/31-percent-of-u-s-households-have-trouble-paying-energy-bills

Nearly a third of households in the United States have struggled to pay their energy bills, the Energy Information Administration said in a report released Wednesday. The differences were minor in terms of geography, but Hispanics and racial minorities were hit hardest.

About one in five households had to reduce or forgo food, medicine and other necessities to pay an energy bill, according to the report. “Of the 25 million households that reported forgoing food and medicine to pay energy bills, 7 million faced that decision nearly every month,” the report stated.

More than 10 percent of households kept their homes at unhealthy or unsafe temperatures.

The data come from the federal agency’s most recent energy consumption survey in 2015. That year, expenditures for energy were at their lowest in more than decade, according to the agency.

“We only conduct the Residential Energy Consumption Survey every 4-5 years,” survey manager Chip Berry told NPR by email. “This is the first time in the history of the study (goes back to late ’70s) that we have [measured] energy insecurity across all households, so there’s not much in the way of historical comparison.”

The study found that about half of households experiencing trouble reported income of less than $20,000. More than 40 percent had at least one child.

And people of color were disproportionately affected: about half of respondents who reported challenges paying their energy bills identified as black. More than 40 percent identified as Latino.

“It’s not shocking, because the communities of color disproportionately face all the highest burdens, whether it’s housing, lack of jobs or education,” Tracey Capers, executive vice president of the Bedford Stuyvesant Restoration Corporation, a community development initiative in New York, told The Associated Press.

Click here to view the entire article…

Electric ratepayers, efficiency employers, environmental organizations continue push to restore efficiency, clean energy funds

Immediate Release – September 13, 2018                                          

Contacts:

  • Leticia Colon de Mejias (Plaintiff), 860-690-5522
  • Mike Trahan, Solar Connecticut, 860-256-1698

New Haven, Conn.The lawsuit to restore $145 million in Energy Efficiency and Clean Energy funds continued to move swiftly through the U.S. District Court system today as attorneys for the Plaintiffs and Defendants presented their cases in oral arguments before a full courtroom and Judge Janet C. Hall in New Haven.

Energy efficiency businesses, clean energy businesses, environmental nonprofits, and utility ratepayer organizations filed a federal lawsuit on May 15 2018 to repeal the legislative sweep of Connecticut’s energy efficiency and clean energy plan funds, and to prevent future diversions of ratepayer funds. The suit argues that using ratepayer funding for other than its intended purpose violates the Contracts Clause of the United States Constitution and functions as an illegal tax on tax-exempt organizations. The original complaint may be read here.

 “The case has been heard and the decision is in the hands of a well-respected judge. I have faith that she will side with the People here in the court and in our state.,” said lead plaintiff Leticia Colon de Mejias, chair of Efficiency For All (EFA) and founder/owner of Energy Efficiencies Solutions. “Even in these difficult times, it is obvious that stealing ratepayer funds intended to help Connecticut residents and businesses reduce energy waste and use cleaner resources is a bad choice. No matter your political party, Efficiency is Efficient. Leaders need to be proactive about our energy plan, our environment, and our economic future. Join us and Take Action. Send a message to your legislators and those who are running for office in November. Let them know that Connecticut cares about our energy plan, our health, our local jobs, and our economy. Efficiency and renewable resources are the future. Take a stand for our future and tell our leaders to stop stealing the funds that support our path forward to a clean efficient stable energy plan!”

“Our goal with this lawsuit remains to remedy the damage done to Connecticut’s families and businesses who trusted that their ratepayer dollars would go towards energy efficiency and clean energy programs that save money and reduce climate pollution,” said Roger Reynolds, chief legal director at Connecticut Fund for the Environment, which is a plaintiff in the case. “We are gratified the court has put this case on a remarkably expedited schedule so far, and hope for a speedy decision on the merits of the case.”

In addition to Colon de Mejias and CFE, plaintiffs in the suit are New Haven-based Fight the Hike; Energy Efficiencies Solutions, LLC; Best Home Performance of CT, LLC; Connecticut Citizen Action Group; New England Smart Energy Group, LLC; CT Weatherproof Insulation, LLC; Steven C. Osuch of East Windsor; Jonathan Casiano of Windsor; and Bright Solutions, LLC. The plaintiffs are represented by attorneys from the firms of Holland & Knight in New York City and Hartford-based Feiner Wolfson. Defendants are the Governor, Treasurer, and Comptroller of the State of Connecticut.

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Background:


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We finally have our day in court! Stand with EFA to protect our right to a Clean Energy Future!

August 28, 2018 – Immediate Release

Dear friends of the environment and clean energy programs,

We finally have our day in court! The date for the legal case oral arguments against the state for stealing ratepayers EE and clean energy funds has been confirmed by the judge. It is critical that the judge witness a show of community support for the return of the ratepayers funds to support our statewide clean energy and efficiency plan. Our economy, our environment and our future depend on it.

We are looking for business leaders, environmental leadership, and  Community support for this Effort to Repeal the Raid on the Energy Efficiency and Clean Energy Funds. Let’s stop the Raids once and for all!

Our only legal goal is to have the state return the ratepayer funds and use the ratepayer funds for the intended purposes.

  1. Can you commit to attending in support of ratepayer and EE and clean energy programs?
  2. Will you stand with us in support of this legal action to protect our clean energy and efficiency plans?
  3. Can your organizational partners work to encourage community members to come sit in court to support this effort during the oral arguments?

The Time Is Now! Warriors Unite!

Let’s stand together for our sensible energy future and for our future at large.

Learn more at www.efficiencyforall.org

“It is not because things are difficult that we do not dare; it is because we do not dare that things are difficult.” ~ Seneca

Contacts:

  • Jennifer Dionne, EFA Community Relations and Government Affairs, 860-337-2239
  • Leticia Colon de Mejias (Plaintiff), 860-580-9076

Background:


Additional News Articles:

Immediate Release – “No clothes”: Efficiency allies respond to State’s claims in Energy Funds lawsuit – 8/13/2018

Immediate Release
August 13, 2018

Contacts:

  • Laura McMillan, CT Fund for the Environment (Plaintiff), 540-292-8429
  • Leticia Colon de Mejias (Plaintiff), 860-690-5522
  • Mike Trahan, Solar Connecticut, 860-256-1698

“No clothes”: Efficiency allies respond to State’s claims in Energy Funds lawsuit

Electric ratepayers, efficiency employers, environmental organizations continue push to restore efficiency, clean energy funds

Hartford, Conn. – The lawsuit to restore $145 million in Energy Efficiency and Clean Energy funds is moving swiftly through the U.S. District Court system as today the Plaintiffs and Defendants each filed responses to the others’ motions for summary judgment. The Plaintiffs’ response may be read here.

Energy efficiency businesses, clean energy businesses, environmental nonprofits, and utility ratepayer organizations filed a federal lawsuit on May 15 to repeal the legislative sweep of Connecticut’s energy efficiency and clean energy plan funds, and to prevent future diversions of ratepayer funds. Attorneys from the firms of Holland & Knight in New York City and Hartford-based Feiner Wolfson, representing the Plaintiffs, filed briefs on July 20 with the goal of allowing U.S. District Judge Janet C. Hall in New Haven to render a speedy decision on the merits of the case. State attorneys for the Defendants—the Governor, Treasurer, and Comptroller of the State of Connecticut—submitted their own summary judgment motion papers at the same time.

“Every one of the Defendants’ claims is incorrect, and not supported by the facts in the record,” said Attorney Stephen J. Humes, partner at Holland & Knight. “The Defendants created fanciful arguments about lack of contracts and damages out of whole cloth to cloak the absence of a basis to support the sweeps. And to deny the sweeps have had a negative impact on ratepayers and businesses is to ignore the evidence in front of their own eyes. In Hans Christian Andersen’s 1837 tale The Emperor’s New Clothes, a child observing the monarch parade in his invisible clothes declares: ‘But he isn’t wearing anything at all!’ The Court should likewise see through the Defendants’ justifications and perceive that their claims offer no rational basis supporting these illegal sweeps.”

The Plaintiffs’ brief notes that:

  1. The efficiency and clean energy charges constitute a contract between the electric distribution companies and their customers to fund energy efficiency and clean energy projects to benefit ratepayers. The July 20 brief from the Defendants points to previous much smaller sweeps in 2003 and 2005, to argue ratepayers should have expected the diversion of their funds. As the Plaintiffs have noted previously, a few prior acts of petty theft do not justify grand larceny.
  2. The funding sweep takes away the benefits ratepayers were supposed to receive from energy efficiency and clean energy projects. Funding available for efficiency projects in 2017 was 17 percent lower than budgeted, and for 2018 it is projected that spending will be a devastating 39 percent below expectations. This has already resulted in layoffs in the efficiency industry and will soon lead to potential customers being turned away.
  3. The judge should be skeptical of the sweeps as they benefitted the state at the expense of ratepayer contracts.
  4. Transferring the dollars raised from electric distribution company (EDC) customers’ bills to the state General Fund violates the Equal Protection Clause of the 14th Amendment by effectively imposing a new tax on EDC customers but not on municipal electric customers.

Prior to the 2017 raids, energy efficiency dollars have created more than 34,000 local energy efficiency jobs, built up the state’s solar industry, increased the Gross State Product, and added millions to the green energy economy. The State’s Plan to invest in energy efficiency consistently has reduced energy demand year after year, lowering air pollution and water pollution, and strengthening the energy grid to protect vulnerable populations.

In contrast, the raids have led to extensive layoffs and efficiency dollars running out. Programs may close for the year as early as September, denying Connecticut residents access to their money that can make their homes less leaky and drafty and lowering their energy bills just when those pre-winter upgrades are needed most.

“The theft of these funds has undermined successful programs that were benefiting the whole state of Connecticut and has already resulted in thousands of layoffs and several business closures. I have personally been forced to lay off several employees due to this irresponsible action by our state leaders,” said Leticia Colon de Mejias, chair of Efficiency For All (EFA) and founder/owner of Energy Efficiencies Solutions. “As a ratepayer, employer, environmental activist, and concerned mother, I stand strongly against this illegal state action to tax our electric and gas bills, tax nonprofits, and misdirect ratepayer dollars away from our state energy demand reduction plan. Leaders must be held accountable, and must halt the ongoing damage.”

With today’s filing, the case is now in the hands of U.S. District Judge Janet C. Hall.

###

Background:

July 20 Motion for Summary Judgment

May 15 Complaint

Press release on filing of lawsuit

Summary of case and background

More information can be found at www.efficiencyforall.org and www.ctenvironment.org.

To speak with contractors who are experiencing direct harm or staff who were let go, please contact Leticia Colon de Mejias at 860-690-5522.

Legislative Theft of Efficiency Funds Moves Forward as Legal Briefs Filed – Immediate Release 7/23/2018

Immediate Release
July 23, 2018

Contacts:
Melissa Schlag, CT Fund for the Environment (Plaintiff), 860-398-0569
Leticia Colon de Mejias (Plaintiff), 860-690-5522

Legislative Theft of Efficiency Funds Moves Forward as Legal Briefs Filed

Electric ratepayers, efficiency employers, environmental organizations, file for restoration of efficiency, clean energy funds

Hartford, Conn. – The next step in a lawsuit to restore Connecticut’s ratepayer energy funds took place on Friday, July 20, as attorneys for both sides filed briefs in federal court. Energy efficiency businesses, clean energy businesses, environmental nonprofits, and utility ratepayer organizations filed a federal lawsuit on May 15 to repeal the legislative sweep of Connecticut’s energy efficiency and clean energy plan funds, and to prevent future diversions of ratepayer funds.

Attorneys from the firms of Holland & Knight in New York City and Hartford-based Feiner Wolfson, representing the Plaintiffs, filed papers Friday enabling U.S. District Judge Janet C. Hall in New Haven to render a speedy decision on the merits. State attorneys for the Defendants have filed their own summary judgment motion papers as well.

In attempting to justify the illegal sweeps, the Defendant’s brief points to a $30 million sweep that took place in 2003 and a $12 million sweep that happened in 2005, arguing that because they raided the fund before, they have the right to do it again.

“A few prior acts of petty theft do not justify grand larceny,” said Attorney Stephen J. Humes, partner at Holland & Knight. “Given the magnitude and brazen nature of the sweeps, recognized and acknowledged by legislators, it should come as no surprise that this time Defendants got caught with their hand in the till. As the state capitol floor debates made clear, the legislature knew it was stretching the bounds of its authority.”

Last year, Connecticut’s legislature directed the Defendants—the governor, the treasurer, and the comptroller of the State of Connecticut—to divert $175 million from the Conservation & Load Management Charge, Renewable Energy Investment Charge, and Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI) funds to the State’s General Tax Fund to fill a budget gap over two years. Much of that funding is collected from a small charge on Eversource and UI electric bills, paid by ratepayers and then returned back to the ratepayers as discounts on energy efficiency products, services, low interest financing, and solar panels. The legislature voted in May to restore $10 million of the Conservation & Load Management fund in fiscal year 2019, leaving a gap of $165 million from the state’s demand reduction plan crippling efficiency programs, jobs, services, and financing for ratepayers who need help with efficiency or installing renewable resources. ($137 million in unlawfully seized ratepayer funds and $28 million in RGGI funds)

 Plaintiffs are Leticia Colon de Mejias of Windsor; The Connecticut Fund for the Environment, Inc.; New Haven-based Fight the Hike; Energy Efficiencies Solutions, LLC; Best Home Performance of CT, LLC; Connecticut Citizen Action Group; New England Smart Energy Group, LLC; CT Weatherproof Insulation, LLC; Steven C. Osuch of East Windsor; Jonathan Casiano of Windsor; and Bright Solutions, LLC.

The lawsuit argues that using ratepayer funding for other than its intended purpose violates the Contracts Clause of the United States Constitution and functions as an illegal tax on tax-exempt organizations. The Plaintiffs’ motion filed Friday requests that the court declare the funding sweeps null and void, and issue an injunction requiring the swept funds be replaced immediately and forbidding the State from sweeping the funds in the future.

The first transfer of $73.5 million of ratepayer dollars and $14 million of RGGI funds into the state’s General Fund took place on June 25, 2018. An additional transfer of $63.5 million of ratepayer dollars and $14 million of RGGI funds are scheduled to be made in June 2019.

“The State of Connecticut took $137 million in funds paid by residents on their electric bills for specific energy efficiency and clean energy services, and used that money to plug an unrelated budget hole instead. That was illegal and unconstitutional. We’re demanding the funds be returned and used for their intended purpose: projects that reduce home heating and electric bills, generate economic activity and jobs, and slash air pollution,” said Roger Reynolds, chief legal director at Connecticut Fund for the Environment, a plaintiff in the case. “We are gratified the court accepted our request and put this on a remarkably expedited schedule, as time is of the essence if we are to prevent severe damage.”

Plaintiffs argue that the raided funds have created more than 34,000 local energy efficiency jobs, increased state GSP, and added millions to the green energy economy. They further state the energy efficiency program consistently reduces energy demand year after year, lowering air pollution, water pollution, and strengthening the energy grid to protect vulnerable populations.

“As a residential and business ratepayer, and as an environmental activist, employer, and concerned mother, I stand strongly against the politics behind this illegal state action to tax our electric and gas bills, tax nonprofits, and misdirect ratepayer money into general state coffers,” said Leticia Colon de Mejias, chair of Efficiency For All (EFA). “This theft has undermined our state energy demand reduction plan and has already resulted in thousands of Connecticut layoffs and several business closures—leaders must be held accountable. I have personally been forced to lay off several employees due to this irresponsible action by our state leaders. If the legislators were my children I would be telling them, ‘Just because you snuck two cookies and we didn’t notice, does not mean that we won’t punish you when we find the cookie jar two-thirds empty.’”

“Top state lawmakers have said that forcing Eversource and UI customers to pay more than their fair share to balance lawmakers’ state budget is perfectly defensible, and that people who pay Eversource or UI electric bills should get used to paying what one legislative leader says is a new electric bill tax,” said Mike Trahan, executive director of Solar Connecticut, the state’s solar energy business group. “It’s remarkable that we’ve had to drag state legislators into federal court where a judge will decide if lawmakers scammed consumers out of $165 million.”

“We are now seeing the real life fall-out of this misguided, irresponsible decision by the state to divert funds that wasn’t theirs to take; we are not only losing valuable, skilled technicians but we are losing entire companies,” said Stephanie Weiner, CEO and founder of New England Smart Energy Group, LLC. “If these funds are not restored in the very near future, we will see a once thriving and growing Connecticut industry, that actually helped all the residents of Connecticut save money on their energy bills, disappear forever.”

“It breaks my heart, when we receive a call from a client whose house is drafty and leaky and who needs new windows and/or insulation. And the efficiency charge money they have been contributing on a monthly basis towards the plan is no longer there for them,” saidVivian Perez, co-owner of HE-Energy Solutions, LLC.

“As a result of the sweeps, Plaintiffs no longer get what they paid for,” said Attorney Humes “While the Plaintiffs will continue to pay surcharges into the funds, they will no longer receive the benefits of their payments, nor will they be able to access energy efficiency services or clean energy investments like before. The State has violated the public trust. In light of the ongoing harm caused by the transfer of these funds, we’re pleased the federal court has set an aggressive schedule to resolve the matter in a timely way.” ###

Background:

Motion for Summary Judgment

May 15 Complaint

Press release on filing of lawsuit

Summary of case and background

More information can be found at www.efficiencyforall.org and www.ctenvironment.org.

Quotes from Senate leaders defending the sweeps:

“I believe it’s defensible, what we’ve done,” the Senate’s top Democratic leader, Martin M. Looney of New Haven, said of the legislature’s move to sweep up those energy conservation monies. – Hartford Courant, May 16, 2018.

In a letter from Senate Republican President Leonard A. Fasano to the Connecticut Green Bank’s President and CEO, Bryan Garcia, Senator Fasano wrote, “Although some may argue that the money you receive is ‘ratepayer dollars,’ I would argue those funds are taxpayer dollars.” – March 16, 2018.

To speak with contractors who are experiencing direct harm or staff who were let go please contact Leticia Colon de Mejias at 860-690-5522.


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