Advocates & Legislators Stand Together in Opposition to Deep Cuts to Clean Energy Programs in 2018-2019 Connecticut Budget

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Hartford, CT- A broad group of environmental and energy advocates stood with CT Legislators today to highlight deep cuts to CT Green Bank and the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative included in the approved 2018-2019 biennium budget passed by the House and Senate earlier this month.  The budget included a $10 million/year raid on the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI), which helps to protect air quality in our region and advance renewable energy goals, while helping to lower utility bills for low-income Connecticut households and help homeowners and businesses access clean energy and energy efficiency solutions across the state.

The budget also includes a $13 million/year sweep of funds from Connecticut’s landmark Green Bank- this amounts to more than half of the Green Bank’s revenue! CGB helps home and business owners in Connecticut connect with installers and provide financing options to accelerate renewable energy deployment.  To date, the CT Green Bank has created more than

12,000 direct and over 30,000 indirect jobs in our state.  Many of these are highly skilled, highly technical green jobs that cannot be outsourced. Additionally, these crippling cuts come at a time when several neighboring states are exploring the possibility of replicating the CT Green Bank model.

Such deep cuts to the Green Bank could force the institution to renege on existing offers with contractors, developers and financiers that have already committed significant expenditures to various clean energy projects. This will no doubt will erode trust with investors and send mixed signals about the stability of Connecticut’s clean energy market.

“When it comes to clean energy and a healthy environment in Connecticut, this budget is a non- starter,” said Louis W. Burch, CT Program Director for Citizens Campaign for the Environment. “The cuts to CT Green Bank and the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative are like a recurring nightmare that keeps coming back year after year, despite the tremendous benefits there programs bring to Connecticut residents.  RGGI and the Green Bank help advance clean energy projects, enable homeowners to save energy and lower their utility bills, and create good- paying green jobs in our state. They provide hundreds of millions in health and economic benefits, in addition to helping advance our state’s important clean energy goals.  The debilitating cuts included in this budget will set Connecticut back even farther on fighting climate change, and we urge Governor Malloy to veto this short-sighted budget as soon as possible.”

“Slashing the Green Bank and raiding funds from the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative, which reinvests money in energy efficiency and clean energy programs, would harm both Connecticut’s economy and health for years to come,” said Claire Coleman, climate and energy attorney at Connecticut Fund for the Environment. “These programs not only save Connecticut families money on their energy bills, they also save lives and cut healthcare costs by reducing unhealthy pollution, and put Connecticut on the path towards a clean energy future. These short-sighted cuts must be eliminated in the final budget.”

“Raiding funds that help fight destructive climate change and create Connecticut jobs is extremely short-sighted, said John Harrity, president of the Connecticut State Council of Machinists and steering committee member for CT Roundtable on Climate and Jobs.  “The diversion of RGGI and Green Bank funds will do little to address the state's overall deficit, but will have a profound impact on programs that help cut energy costs while reducing fossil fuel use. Thousands of jobs depend on these green initiatives. Worse still is the notion that in a pinch we can afford to slow efforts to combat destructive climate change.  With the future of the planet at stake, addressing climate change is not 'discretionary.'  It is an imperative that will shape the future of the world and the safety of generations to come.  This is not a 'choice.' Redirecting these funds is a betrayal of our kids, and all the kids who expect an inhabitable world.”

“Instead of raiding the funds that support clean energy and energy-efficiency in our state, we should be leading by example to aggressively scale up energy savings on the state’s own buildings, which spend an estimated $200 million per year on energy.  These cuts are short- sighted and will do lasting economic damage.” — Melissa Everett, Ph.D., CT Energy and Sustainability Program Manager, Clean Water Action.

“The Connecticut Green Building Council has long supported the State’s leadership role in energy conservation and sustainability,” said Brian Dwyer of the CT Green Building Council.  “Key to continuing this leadership role is fully funding Connecticut’s clean energy initiatives.”

“Connecticut’s energy efficiency industry creates local jobs, lowers the cost of electricity, and has contributed to decreasing the need for additional energy infrastructure – a benefit to all Connecticut ratepayers, said Leticia Colon de Mejias, representing Energy Efficiency for All.  “Our energy efficiency programs help to lower our carbon emissions and reduce local air pollution, while simultaneously helping working families to have safer, more comfortable, and more efficient homes and apartments.  Some notable benefits of the energy efficiency industry in

Connecticut in 2016 include:

  • $962 Million in lifetime energy savings
  • 34,000 CT jobs in energy efficiency
  • $1.4 Billion increase in CT Gross State Product

In the wake of the string of devastating storms that wreaked havoc on the Caribbean and Southern United States, the need for combating climate change is more important than ever. Energy efficiency is among the most cost-effective ways to reduce carbon emissions and energy costs, while simultaneously reducing negative health consequences such as asthma.  We must fight to protect the funds which make possible the numerous positive impacts that this industry has in Connecticut.  Sweeping energy efficiency funds is equivalent to implementing an inequitable retro energy tax on CT ratepayers, a short-sighted approach whose net effect would have long-lasting consequences across the State.”

“Connecticut has a rich tradition of bipartisan support for the environment,” said Tom Swan of the CT Citizens Action Group.  “It makes it that much more disappointing to see the Republican budget that more resembles Donald Trump’s approach rather than the Jodi Rell/Gina McCarthy approach we saw proposed by Republicans less than a decade ago."

“The approved GOP budget includes nearly $40M in new electric and gas bill taxes collected from home and business owners,” said Mike Trahan of Solar Connecticut. “The Governor is right to veto any budget that depends on gimmicks that got us into this crisis in the first place. Any new budget proposal that includes gimmicks in not honest. Neither is any lawmaker who votes for it.”

"Raiding ratepayer clean energy funds will increase pollution and dig a deeper economic hole for Connecticut's families and businesses," said Chris Phelps, Environment Connecticut State Director. "In the past, when the legislature raided ratepayer clean energy funds, it raised energy bills, increased pollution, and cost jobs. If insanity is doing the same thing over and over again but expecting different results, then raiding ratepayer clean energy funds that strengthen Connecticut's economy and cut pollution is budgetary insanity."

“Connecticut’s Green Bank is a rarity these days, a, highly successful, financially innovative program, that was established with broad bi-partisan support, that reduces greenhouse gas emissions and saves residents and businesses money on their energy bills”, stated David Sutherland, Director of Government Relations for The Nature Conservancy’s Connecticut Chapter. “To devastate this program, as this budget proposal would do, would leave us with one less example of what both parties, working together, can do for our citizens, our economy, and our climate.”

"With the recent experiences that too many others have had with mega-storms and record breaking hurricanes almost beyond our imagination, to cut any Connecticut funds going towards clean energy technologies borders on insanity, said Joel Gordes, representing the Center for Energy Security Solutions.  “Not only do the green technologies aid in greenhouse gas mitigation but they are also essential for adaptation required to make our power systems far more resilient than they currently are. The first responsibility of government is the health, safety and security of its citizens but this budget ignores that."

Melissa Everett