Governor Lamont's 100% Zero-Carbon Electricity Bill Will Allow Fossil Fuel Power Plants?!
In September 2019, Governor Lamont made a 100% zero-carbon electricity commitment for Connecticut, putting it on the map of states taking action. At that time seven other states (California, Hawaii, Maine, Nevada, New Mexico, New York and Washington) had passed landmark legislation to transition from fossil fuels to clean energy in order to address the climate crisis. Since then the Governor, his Department of Energy & Environmental Protection (DEEP) and legislators have all touted to Connecticut residents that the state is headed towards 100% zero-carbon electricity.
But we were not told there would be fine print. Last month, the Governor presented a bill to the legislature to codify the 100% zero-carbon electricity goal that states: “Not later than January 1, 2040, (the state shall reduce the level of emissions of greenhouse gas) to a level of zero percent from electricity supplied to electric customers in the state.” Therein lies the fine print. The bill requires that only electricity supplied to electricity customers must meet this goal.
Why would the bill only cover electricity supplied to electricity customers? What about all the other electricity generated in Connecticut? Connecticut is, after all, a net exporter of electricity. We consume only 73% of the electricity generated in the state. By only covering the electricity supplied to electricity customers, Connecticut could technically achieve the 100% goal in 2040 while still having 54 fossil fuel power plants running in the state as we do right now. That number could be higher if the yet-to-be constructed Killingly power plant moves forward.
We’re concerned. For those of us concerned about climate change and the human health impacts of fossil fuels, this is a nightmare. We never imagined that a clean energy future would include 54 dirty power plants. That’s what the fine print of the bill could mean.
Are you surprised there are 54 fossil fuel plants in Connecticut? Our small state hosts a disproportionate share of the New England region’s fossil-fueled generation. Of the 54 fossil fuel power generators, 23 are located in environmental justice communities. They emit 8 million tons of CO2 emissions into the atmosphere. The yet-to-be-constructed Killingly fossil gas power plant is permitted to add another 2.2 million tons to that. More than 40 fossil fuel powered generating units have been constructed in Connecticut since 1998.
I hope, like me, you are appalled. I hope you are ready to speak up, and say that you have read the fine print and will not be fooled. A zero-carbon electricity future must not be allowed to include climate destroying fossil fuel power plants.
Gov Lamont’s 100% zero carbon bill — Senate Bill 882 — is now awaiting action by the legislature’s Energy & Technology Committee. Let your legislators know that you want this bill to not only include electricity supplied to electric customers, but you want the bill to include all electricity generated in our state. To do this, the Energy & Technology Committee must amend the bill to include generation, and they also should amend it to prohibit more fossil fuel generation in the short-term. This will close the loophole, and ensure that our clean energy future does not include polluting fossil fuel power plants.
Take action by sending a message to your legislators. We’ve created a message you can send in a few quick clicks. If you want to make even more of an impact, please make a call to the Energy & Technology Committee. Below is the number to call and a suggested script to follow. Thank you for speaking up!
We may be surprised, and we may be concerned, but we can make a difference.
Call the Energy & Technology Committee:
(860)240‑0430 - Very likely you will leave a message.
Script: "My name is (YOUR NAME), I am calling from (YOUR TOWN), to urge the Energy & Technology Committee to amend Senate Bill 882 requiring all electricity supply and generation be 100% zero-carbon by 2040, and to establish a moratorium on the construction of any new fossil fuel power plants. A 100% zero-carbon electricity future cannot include climate destroying fossil fuel power plants. Thank you.
Samantha Dynowski is State Director, Sierra Club Connecticut.