Energy and Technology Committee House Chair Rep. Lonnie Reed (D-Branford) and Rep. Jonathan Steinberg (D-Westport) held a press conference on Tuesday, Feb. 13 at the Legislative Office Building to call for the restoration of energy efficiency funds that were raided in last year’s budget. They were joined by energy efficiency contractors, community members, and ratepayers who have been impacted by the diversion.
The current state budget diverted $175 Million of Conservation and Load Management funds. These cuts to energy efficiency programs threaten to raise electric rates statewide, result in lost jobs, increase air pollution, and threaten our energy security. Ratepayers and businesses have just begun to feel the economic impacts. This has resulted in reduced access to direct energy efficiency services for oil and propane heated homes, as well as oil and propane heated businesses and multifamily properties.
If the ratepayer funds are not restored to the Energy Efficiency programs, then Connecticut ratepayers and our economy will suffer financial losses and fall behind other states on our energy, economic, and environmental goals.
A group of bipartisan leaders attended and spoke alongside business leaders and efficiency workers on the importance of energy efficiency as it relates to the economy. Leaders in attendance included Rep. Reed, Rep Steinberg. Rep Derek Slapp, Rep. Gresko, Rep. Reyes, Rep Tim Ackert, Rep. McCarthy Vahey, Reps Bolinsky, Rep. Demicco
What is EE
Energy efficiency is a way of managing and restraining the growth in energy consumption. Something is more energy efficient if it delivers more services for the same energy input, or the same services for less energy input.
What leaders and businesses are saying:
“It’s critical that we all begin to understand how vital Energy Efficiency is to strengthening and growing Connecticut’s economy. Energy efficiency is so much more than caulking and insulation. We are talking about an industry cluster that is estimated to support at least 34,000 jobs in this state; and thousands more if you include the downstream companies that manufacture key components such as windows and lighting; and design and build architects and contractors who retrofit factories and other commercial enterprises. We are talking about an incredibly important workforce with families. We must restore funding and stop bait-and-switch tactics. We must stop sweeping essential resources that are paid for by utility ratepayers who think they are investing in efficiency and a cleaner, greener environment.”
– Lonnie Reed, State Representative, 102 District, Branford
“Connecticut is known to be a high energy cost state. While we pursue the shift from fossil fuels to renewable, distributed energy sources, we must also commit to energy efficiency initiatives across the board. After all, the cheapest energy is the energy we don’t use in the first place! The funds diverted last year undermine our ability to achieve such efficiencies and support the companies which provide them.”
-Jonathan Steinberg State Representative, 136th District, Westport
“Diverting EE funds is not just disappointing; it is fiscally irresponsible and will result in higher electricity bills for Connecticut’s households, businesses, and state properties.” Energy Efficiency (EE) is an undervalued economic tool for our state economy, our residents, and our businesses. Addressing residential and building energy loss can lower heating and cooling costs by up to 30%; retrofit lighting reduces electricity waste. Reducing wasted energy results in lower operating expenses and frees up capital. EE promotes business competitiveness, helps families and at-risk populations afford household necessities such as medicine, food, and education, and spurs economic growth, while maintaining 34,000 local jobs. Energy efficiency consistently reduces our peak demand, lowering the cost of electricity for everyone in Connecticut, while protecting our environment and human health.
-Leticia Colon de Mejias, CEO, Energy Efficiencies Solutions
“Connecticut’s budget woes partially reflect a broader economic crisis that continues to hit working families the hardest, as the state suffers from a deficit in good jobs. At the same time, we face a looming climate crisis that has already brought more severe storms and major flooding to coastal communities. Fortunately, these two crises have the same solution: we need to put people to work protecting the climate. Our energy efficiency programs do exactly that: they help struggling communities by creating new local jobs, they grow our state’s economy and tax base, and they move us toward a clean energy future that protects the climate for our grandchildren. Creating a new energy tax by diverting ratepayer funds was a short-sighted decision with immediate and long-term negative impacts on consumers and workers. The General Assembly needs to restore all funding for these critical programs.”
-John Humphries, Organizer for the CT Roundtable on Climate and Jobs; and a member of the Governor’s Council on Climate Change
“According to the 2016 Energy Efficiency Board’s Program and Operations Report, energy efficiency programs return $2.30 in energy system benefits for every $1 invested. According to a 2016 CT Green Bank report on clean energy jobs, every $1 million invested in energy efficiency weatherization programs yielded 18 job-years in return; higher than any other clean energy job.”
-Kyle Ellsworth, Director of Community Relations and Government Affairs, Efficiency For All
“Raiding Connecticut’s energy efficiency funds does measurable harm to our state economy: without the programs they support, efficiency businesses will be forced to cut employees and may even leave the state—taking good jobs with them—and families miss out on energy savings that can make a big difference on electric bills,” said Claire Coleman, climate and energy attorney at Connecticut Fund for the Environment. “What’s more, efficiency programs literally save lives by reducing reliance on dirty fuels that pollute our air and water and change our climate. We ask state legislators to put Connecticut back on the path to a clean energy future this year by strengthening the state’s investments in energy efficiency.”
-Claire Coleman, climate and energy attorney at Connecticut Fund for the Environment
“There are over 300,000 households in CT that cannot afford their energy. Low and moderate income households are vulnerable to high energy rates, in fact, their energy burdens are up to 25% of their household income. Lowering energy waste can help these households apply their already stretched resources towards basic necessities like food, housing, transportation and in some cases, medical bills. Lower energy waste could also impact asthma rates as a result of air pollution. Operation Fuel believes a in well-rounded approach to energy affordability that includes renewable energy projects, community solar, weatherization projects along with a discounted utility rate for low and moderate income customers, and direct energy assistance. CT was gaining momentum with weatherization in lower income communities, and attainable solar. Sadly that goal will not be sustainable while the energy efficiency funds are diverted.”
-Brenda Watson, executive director, Operation Fuel
“Climate change is one of the most pressing public health issues of our time and we’re already experiencing impacts in Connecticut. More extreme heat days can lead to dehydration, heat stroke and cause cardiovascular events like heart attacks. More frequent poor air quality days can lead to exacerbations of asthma and other respiratory conditions like chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). And as temperatures rise, vector borne diseases, like Lyme, are expanding north and now commonly found in Maine, something unheard of a few short years ago. Energy efficiency initiatives, like those provided by EnergizeCT programs, are critical to reducing the impacts of climate change. Recent raids of energy efficiency funds cost jobs, hurt Connecticut’s economy and will harm public health and the environment”
-Anne Hulick, RN, MS, JD.; director, Connecticut Clean Water Action/Clean Water Fund
2016 BENEFITS of the Energy Efficiency Programs (one year of savings)
- Every $1 invested yields $2.30 in energy system benefits
- $1.4 Billion increase in Gross State Product (2016)
- $37.7 Million saved by CT businesses (2016)
- $40.6 Million saved by CT residents (2016)
- Energy efficiency employs 34,000 CT workers (2017 national DOE report)
IMPACTS (LOSSES) OF THE Energy Efficiency Diversions
- $21 Million in Lost Tax Revenue
- $31 Million in lost in direct Efficiency savings – lowering our state’s competitiveness
- $30 Million on ISO- NE Penalties (will be paid on our electric bills raising the cost of electricity)
- 6,800 projected Connecticut job losses (over 2 yrs)
- 13,000 homes won’t be weatherized
- 5,900 Low- income and elderly households won’t receive energy reducing services
- Created a tax on ratepayers electric bills
- $230 Million lost in efficiency projects