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Connecticut Should Be a Leader on Renewable Energy and Clean Heat
A Call to Action

Stephen Lewis

September 2023

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As the planet sends distress signals with weekly new records for heat, wildfire, rainfall, flooding, and ocean temperature, our elected leaders are slow-playing climate change policy here in Connecticut.  We can’t and will not let this inaction continue. 


We have started a new campaign which is amping up pressure for real and meaningful policy changes and we are asking you to join us to make sure there is a clear understanding of what citizens expect. Policy should be made for the public, not utility, fossil fuel, and nuclear lobbyists.


Connecticut was once a leader on climate mitigation goal setting and implementation. But now we find ourselves falling behind our neighbors and worse, not making fast enough progress on our own mandated goals, prioritizing the wrong solutions like nuclear and trash to energy. Meanwhile, plans to build offshore wind energy are slow to come online and may be running into delays.


What we should be doing for our policy – look around at our neighboring states that are far ahead of Connecticut on renewable energy and clean heat. For example, Massachusetts currently gets 20% of their electricity from solar energy, whereas Connecticut only gets 3% of its electricity from solar. The fact is, we are not going to achieve a state mandate to get 100% of our electricity from zero-carbon resources by 2040 unless we rapidly make up for lost time and deploy more solar power quickly.  With more demand from EVs and heat pumps, there is in fact a need for even more electricity. The state needs to make a commitment to procure at least 30% of its electricity from solar by 2030.


Another way Connecticut lags our neighbors is we have a very weak and ineffective community solar law.  States like Massachusetts, New York, and New Hampshire have much better models that enable communities to purchase solar energy for residents who may be renters, condo owners, or otherwise unable to put solar panels on their rooftop. These laws give those consumers lower electric bills while subscribing to 100% renewable energy generated in-state and thereby further decarbonizing the grid. Connecticut should offer a similar well-designed program.


Finally, another example of how we can learn from our neighbors is by looking at Maine’s heat pump promotion program, started in 2019, and district heating programs in New York and Massachusetts. We know that we need to decarbonize our buildings, but our state does not have an overt policy and campaign to aggressively incentivize and promote the installation of heat pumps for clean heating and cooling in our homes, municipal, and commercial buildings. Maine, which is very dependent on heating with oil, made it a goal to get 100,000 households to switch to heat pumps by 2025. They exceeded their goal by 2023 and are now aiming to install another 175,000 by 2027.  They are enhancing their existing incentives with state income-tax credits.  


There are many other visionary things we could be doing to build out the electric grid of the future, to stop expanding fossil fuel use, and to mandate that all new buildings be powered and heated with 100% renewable and clean energy.


Connecticut needs a vision to be a leader on clean energy and heat and not settling for 48th in the nation and 5th place in New England. Our climate can’t tolerate any further foot-dragging and political rationalizations.  Let’s insist on being #1 for a change.


How you can help us

Help us table at farmers markets, fairs, and community forums this fall to engage citizens on the campaign. We are getting postcards signed to send to the Governor and Legislators. Contact me to get copies of our postcards and have family and friends send them in. We are also using a digital action that everyone can help with – take action now!


Even better than a postcard or email is a call or in-person conversation with your legislators to let them know you support this and ask them to help make sure Connecticut leads on clean energy. Be sure to express your concern with what is happening with our climate, our lack of action at the state level, and how we are not acting quickly and broadly enough.

Want to help? Contact Steve Lewis.

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