Energy advocates call for new commitment to renewable growth

 

The piece below was submitted by CFE, VoteSolar, and Environment Connecticut in response to the latest delay in the shared solar pilot program.

Solar and environmental advocates are calling for a new community solar program in Connecticut that will expand solar access, energy choices and consumer savings for families, municipalities, and businesses statewide. The demand follows today’s Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (DEEP) technical hearing where attendees reviewed the state’s current Shared Clean Energy Facilities pilot program. The pilot has stalled several times over the last two years, most recently following DEEP’s decision to scrap all the proposals they have received and issue a new request for projects. DEEP heard from many advocates and developers at the hearing who are frustrated with this latest delay and skeptical about the long term success of the pilot.

The current pilot program was meant to expand solar access to Connecticut energy customers who can’t put solar on their own roof, but it contained flaws that have prevented any development to date. As set out in the legislation, the program has several poor design elements and a goal too small to draw significant private sector interest. Below are statements from stakeholders in Connecticut’s clean energy economy:

“For years, Connecticut has missed out on the opportunity to bring solar energy choices to all consumers and more clean energy jobs to the state,” said Sean Garren, Northeast Regional director for Vote Solar. “Connecticut’s lackluster community solar program hasn’t unlocked the benefits of solar access for a single resident to date due to poor design and a lack of ambition at the scale needed, brought about by the electric utilities’ intervention. We’re calling on the legislature to catch up to the rest of New England — and the nation — with a smart, well-structured community solar program designed to serve consumers statewide.”

“Two years of foot dragging and refusal by the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection to follow the law and implement a community solar program is preventing tens of thousands of Connecticut families from gaining access to clean, affordable, secure solar power,” said Chris Phelps, State Director for Environment Connecticut. “Community solar is helping other states accelerate solar growth, create jobs, and cut pollution. Connecticut policy makers should take action now to create a bold community solar program.”

“Shared solar programs have been sweeping the nation for the last decade, but Connecticut has been left in the shade — losing out on healthier air, investment dollars, and green jobs that would accompany a full-scale, statewide shared solar program,” said Claire Coleman, Climate and Energy Attorney for Connecticut Fund for the Environment. “DEEP’s decision to start over with the already overly-restrictive shared solar pilot puts Connecticut further in the dark. Our climate and economy cannot wait any longer. Connecticut’s leaders must move quickly to ramp up in-state renewables through a full-scale shared solar program if Connecticut is going to have any chance of meeting its obligations under the Global Warming Solutions Act to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.”

Vote Solar is a nonprofit organization working to foster economic development and energy independence by bringing solar energy to the mainstream nationwide. Learn more at votesolar.org.

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