Connecticut's soaring electricity costs have caused a boom in demand for energy efficiency programs these past two years. That's good. Better efficiency cuts costs for industries, businesses and homeowners. It also eases the strain on the electric grid and cuts pollution.
Yet as Connecticut is clamoring for conservation programs, the state Department of Public Utility Control is proposing to cap spending for conservation at a level $20 million lower than the projected demand.
It doesn't make sense.
These programs, funded by ratepayers and administered by Connecticut Light & Power and United Illuminating, have drawn praise as some of the most effective and best-managed in the country. They provide a range of services, including energy audits, equipment and low-interest loans, to help industries, businesses and residents control their energy costs.
They've also helped generate thousands of skilled, energy-related "green" jobs, the kind that can help build Connecticut's economy.
A decision by the DPUC to cap these programs will have several damaging effects.
Reining in energy efficiency programs will mean higher costs for people and businesses. Not just because they aren't reducing their usage, but because electricity bought during the peak of demand — especially in summer — is sold for a premium price.
It will slow Connecticut's headway in reducing the drain on the energy grid, in meeting goals for reducing greenhouse-gas emissions and in clearing the air.
It also will deprive the state's businesses, industries and residents of services they are seeking at a time when they desperately need them.
Raising the cap by $20 million would cost the average household only about $2 more per year. We think that's a price Connecticut can't afford to pass up. The cost of energy has everyone's attention. In failing to rise to the moment, the DPUC would be doing Connecticut a grave disservice.
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