February 9, 2018

Malloy, DEEP align on doubling clean-energy target

Wind power is among the types of clean generation Connecticut would have to rely on more heavily in the future, as it plans to slowly phase out biomass and landfill methane gas.

Gov. Dannel P. Malloy and the state's environmental policy agency are both calling for the amount of clean and renewable power consumed in the state to double between 2020 and 2030.

The Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (DEEP) on Wednesday issued a final version of its Comprehensive Energy Strategy , which recommends a target of 40 percent clean energy over the decade, which would be an increase from the 20 percent target scheduled for 2020.

Meanwhile, Malloy filed a bill calling for the same higher targets, growing 2 percentage points per year over the decade.

"Connecticut is committed to taking real action to address one of the most pressing global issues of our time, climate change," Malloy said in a statement. "If we fail to take real action as a state, nation and global community to address climate change, future generations will suffer irreparable consequences."

The matter will be up to legislators to decide, but a 40 percent target is higher than the initial 30 percent target DEEP called for in the draft version of its energy plan, released last year.

Since then, DEEP said it received public comments urging for a more aggressive target for the program, which is known as the "renewable portfolio standard" or RPS for short.

Across the country, 29 states have an RPS program, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures, with some, like California and New York, targeting 50 percent by 2030.

Generation technology that counts toward the target in Connecticut are known as Class I renewables and include solar, wind, fuel cells, landfill methane gas, biomass and several other sources.

DEEP says the RPS is needed to help Connecticut meet its environmental goals under the state's Global Warming Solutions Act, which calls for an 80 percent reduction below 2001 emissions levels by 2050.

The agency called 40 percent "an ambitious trajectory," especially because the state is already planning to phase out two dirtier forms of Class I generation, landfill gas and biomass, over the next 15 to 20 years.

Those two energy sources are a major portion of the RPS in Connecticut, accounting for more than three-quarters of Class I generation in 2014, DEEP said.

As a result, the state will have to rely more on zero-emissions Class I generation in the future, which DEEP warned may make it more expensive for utilities to purchase clean energy.

"It is difficult to quantify costs of this increase at this time because transmission lines would likely need to be built in order to bring this significant amount of renewables online by 2030," DEEP wrote in its new energy plan, which also recommends lowering penalties utilities must pay if they don't meet targets.

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