Senate Bill 493 offers some good ideas for promoting renewable energy in Connecticut. Unfortunately, this bill was passed without a public hearing, was written by a small number of Democratic legislators in the closing HOURS of the legislative session, was released to legislators for review only a few hours before a vote and was introduced to the Senate by the Energy & Technology Committee co-chair with an 8-minute presentation.
Although they were not allowed to take part in development of the bill, the state Department of Public Utility & Control and the Office of Policy & Management both reviewed a draft of the proposal only hours before debate and concluded that it would be very costly to electricity customers. They stated, “our overall concern is that most of the provisions of this bill will result in significant increases in ratepayers’ costs and will have a considerable state budgetary impact that are not accounted for in the adopted budget or any proposal under consideration.”
At a time when Connecticut state government is unable to sustain current levels of spending and is researching opportunities for government reorganization, efficiency and down-sizing (I serve on the Commission on Enhancing Agency Outcomes studying these matters) we can't seriously entertain EXPANDING the size of state government as is proposed in SB493. In Governor Rell’s veto message she states, “the cost to ratepayers over the life of this new solar program is nearly $1.4 billion. So, while this is a laudable goal, it is not the time to make this type of investment.”
I supported a Republican amendment to the bill that retains some of the renewable energy proposals in SB493 without expanding state government and dramatically increasing state spending. The proposal, which failed along party lines, included many of the same provisions in the Democrat plan but removed many of the more costly items. This amendment also eliminated proposals that did not have a public hearing.
I am anxious to support responsible legislation that addresses high electricity costs in Connecticut and encourages renewable energy initiatives. Senate Bill 493 is clearly an irresponsible, unaffordable proposal at a time when Connecticut's state government is facing the biggest budget crisis in our history. This is the reason I opposed the bill and why I will vote to sustain the Governor's veto.