Connecticut's Legislative Session 2018: The Same, Only Different (Hint: Good Things are Possible)
As the legislative session opens in Connecticut, the lay of the land looks the same as last year, except with some promising differences that are largely the results of grassroots action taken by our members and allies.
It’s a short session with a sharp focus on finance. But what better entrée to talk about the economic benefits and value of clean energy?
Here are three specific things we’re keeping an eye on:
- The Energy Efficiency Fund and Green Bank are still reeling from the year-end raid of $63 million from their balance sheets, but they have regrouped with plans to keep operating. The Governor’s proposed budget includes restored funding for Green Bank funds – but not yet for energy efficiency, which is the cheapest source of power and a vigorous job creator. Take action today to defend funding for the Green Bank and the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative.
- As they did last year, legislators have introduced a bill to put a price on carbon. This would finance new investments in energy infrastructure, such as the shift to electric vehicles. More than last year, they are coordinated with nine other states and a widening coalition that includes public health advocates. As Clean Water Action’s Connecticut Director Anne Hulick said at a press conference to launch this effort, “The climate crisis is a public health crisis that is hitting our cities hard. Action to fight climate change is action for social justice and community wellbeing.”
- Finally, the 2018-20 three-year Comprehensive Energy Strategy has just been released. This document calls for scaling up renewable energy to 40 percent by 2030, and aligning energy policy with the goals of climate action. The strategy has some land mines buried in its weeds – such as making rooftop solar customers pay more for grid power than they can sell their solar electricity for. It endorses scaled up energy efficiency programs for large users, but does not spell out how to make these work better than in the past.
These are specific policy debates worth having, and they open the door for a meaningful legislative session.
Last fall, we saw what an organized presence can do to affect policy, as hundreds of home heating fuel dealers came out to oppose a surcharge on their product that was tied to climate action. As we move into the 2018 legislative session, the state’s environmental organizations are working closely with the associations of energy-efficiency and solar businesses that are becoming a larger segment of Connecticut’s economy. We’re telling a richer story, including the opportunity for fossil fuel based businesses to diversify into energy efficiency and innovative technologies – as some companies, such as Waterbury’s Wesson Energy, have successfully done.
We are organizing to make an impact with a Lobby Day on March 14, 2018 at 10:00 am in the Legislative Office Building in Hartford. Whether you are a veteran or a newbie at communicating with your legislators, this is an opportunity to refresh skills and connections and make your voice heard. In the month leading up to this day of action, we will provide community briefings around the state and get a message of opportunity into the media.
Wherever you live in Connecticut, there has never been a better time for you to get involved.
Find your legislators’ contact info here.
Find your legislators’ environmental record here.
And if you haven’t already, please join our action mailing list here.