A simple change in Connecticut’s laws can put money back into the pockets of electricity consumers, according to a new Yankee Institute report “Restoring Power.”
These savings will help those most in need – low-income residents and seniors on a fixed income. The study, written by experts at the Beacon Hill Institute at Suffolk University in Boston, found that with a single change legislators can avoid nearly $1.6 billion of increased electricity costs by 2020.
The Renewable Portfolio Standards (RPS) mandates mean higher costs for homeowners, and even more so for large users of electricity like municipalities and commercial businesses. The study’s authors project 2,660 fewer jobs in Connecticut and $283 million in lost income unless the legislature acts. However, if lawmakers do act, savings for employers could lead to more jobs, while savings for cities and towns could lessen local property-tax burdens.
“The people of Connecticut are about to get shocked by their electric bills,” said Carol Platt Liebau, president of the Yankee Institute. “The average CL&P customer can expect an increase of more than 15 percent in his or her electric bill this month. Lawmakers should put their constituents first and take back control of Connecticut’s electric rates by eliminating the RPS mandates.”
“Repealing the RPS mandates would be a good move for consumers, and also for the state’s business community,” said Suzanne Bates, policy director for the Yankee Institute. “And that could spur job growth and economic development – something the state badly needs.”
Liebau said it would be sad if the legislature failed to act on this issue. “Next year some residents may have to decide between lighting their Christmas tree and putting another present under it. Legislators should not let this happen to their constituents.”
Connecticut’s electricity rates are the highest in the Continental U.S., and our energy regulators predict a 63 percent increase in generation costs over the next decade. “Lawmakers have given up control of our electric rates. This study outlines the first step in taking it back,” said Liebau.
The RPS mandates force utility companies to buy electricity produced using a limited number of options, including wind, solar, biomass, or hydropower. Because of the cost of wind and solar power, the biggest source used to fulfill the mandates is biomass power from Maine. Biomass power is usually produced by burning organic material, such as wood or food waste. The RPS mandates were billed as a way to stimulate job growth in Connecticut’s “green” energy sector, but only 4 percent of the electricity used to fulfill RPS requirements is produced in-state.
Connecticut is already moving toward more environmentally-friendly sources of electricity as natural gas becomes cheaper and power companies close old plants. “No one can predict the cleanest and cheapest sources of energy tomorrow, so let’s keep our options open,” said Bates.