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Following energy issues in the state of Connecticut and beyond.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Fight The Hike Fires Back At Fonfara

Some folks don't mind being the subject of a little name dropping. But Paula Panzarella, one of the founders of the group Fight The Hike, isn't one of them.

Panzarella contacted me Wednesday to express her disappointment in the General Assembly's failure to pass any legislation that would lower electric rates. Fight the Hike was founded in reaction to rate increases that the United Illuminating Co. sought and ultimately got approved several years ago.

"The people of Connecticut lost this opportunity to rein in electricity rates (the highest in the continental United States ) and to have greater access to clean, sustainable energy," Panzarella said of the legislature's failure to pass any substantive energy legislation.

Panzarella blamed the failure to get energy legislation passed on a lack of leadership in the state Senate and specifically on tactics used by State Senator John Fonfara, D-Hartford, who is co-chairman of the General Assembly's Energy and Technology Committee.

Fonfara dropped Fight The Hike's name last week in an interview with the New Haven Register. He was asked at the time to justify why he helped keep a bill that would have promoted increased activity in the state's solar energy industry from coming to a vote in the Senate before the end of this year's legislative session.

"There's an attitude among some people that no price is too high when it comes to supporting renewable energy and I'm here to tell you that there is no such thing as free lunch," Fonfara said. "I hear from senior citizens and groups like Fight The Hike in your area every day and they tell me that they're paying too much already."

Panazarella said voting in the Senate on the solar legislation and other energy related bills "was stonewalled, and we were horrified that our senators were never even given the opportunity to discuss and debate the merits of the energy legislation."

"Although all the bills were passed by the Energy and Technology Committee, the committee's co-chair, Sen. John Fonfara, refused to bring them onto the floor of the Senate," she said. "Not only did our senators deserve their chance to have input on proposed energy legislation, but the will of the members on the very committee that Sen. Fonfara represents should have been respected."

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