On Wednesday, state utility regulators will propose an exciting and profound shift in energy strategy for Connecticut, a 10-year plan that pushes efficiency — rather than new power plants and transmission lines — as the cheapest and cleanest way to meet the state's energy needs.
We hope the state Department of Public Utility Control funds efficiency programs at the levels necessary to make their strategy work.
That might mean modest increases in customers' electric rates for the short term (a few dollars more per month for most households). But it will mean sizable savings for Connecticut over the next 10 years — hundreds of millions of dollars, by some estimates.
Households and businesses that reduce their electricity use see an immediate benefit in their monthly bills.
Reduced consumption (especially during peak demand in summer) also keeps a lid on the price of electricity and puts off the need for costly new power plants and transmission lines.
The DPUC's new strategy will mean more consumers get free energy audits and help with insulation and other energy savers. It can also mean more rebates on energy-efficient appliances. It could generate more "green-collar" jobs in the state.
Greater energy efficiency means less air pollution. Fully funding efficiency programs could significantly cut power-plant emissions of carbon dioxide, nitrogen oxide and sulfur dioxide.
Connecticut has some of the highest electricity costs in the nation. Though we might not be able to control the cost of the natural gas used to generate electricity, we can control how much electricity we use.
People understand this — which is why the last few years have witnessed an unprecedented clamoring for energy-efficiency programs.
Even if it costs a little more in the short term, we can no longer afford the status quo.
Copyright ©2008, The Hartford Courant
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