The chairwoman of the General Assembly’s Energy and Technology Committee wants $145 million in energy-efficiency funds that was used in October to balance the state’s restored.
State Rep. Lonnie Reed, D-Branford, has introduced legislation to repeal the diversion of the energy efficiency money. Reed said energy-efficiency efforts are “strengthening and growing Connecticut’s economy.”
“Energy efficiency is so much more than caulking and insulation,” Reed said in a statement. “We are talking about an industry cluster that is estimated to support at least 34,000 jobs in this state; and thousands more if you include other downstream companies that manufacture key components such as windows and lighting and HVAC systems; and the design and build architects and contractors who retrofit factories and other commercial enterprises.”
Reed called using the energy-efficiency money, which comes from a charge on ratepayers bills, to balance Connecticut’s state budget “bait-and-switch-tactics.”
“We must stop sweeping essential resources that are paid for by utility ratepayers who think they are investing in efficiency and a cleaner, greener, healthier environment,” she said.
Reed announced her proposed legislation Tuesday during a press conference at the Legislative Office Building in Hartford. She was joined by fellow state Rep. Jonathan Steinberg, D-Westport, and energy efficiency contractors.
“Connecticut is known to be a high energy cost state,” Steinberg said in a statement. “While we pursue the shift from fossil fuels to renewable, distributed energy sources, we must also commit to energy efficiency initiatives across the board. After all, the cheapest energy is the energy we don’t use in the first place.”
The money diverted from the state’s energy efficiency funding could result in the loss of as many as 6,800 industry jobs, according to Efficiency for All, an advocacy group created by energy efficiency contractors. Leticia Colon de Mejias, chief executive officer of Windsor-based Energy Efficiencies Solutions, said energy efficiency is undervalued by some state officials and diverting the funding is “fiscally irresponsible.”