Blogs > Power to the People

Following energy issues in the state of Connecticut and beyond.

Sunday, January 31, 2010

Utilities to Meet With Major Customers

Two Northeast Utilities subsidiaries - Connecticut Light & Power and Yankee Gas - are in the midst of a series of morning seminars for large commercial, industrial and municipal customers to address how those consumer groups can better manage their energy needs.

The two utilities kicked off the series last week in Fairfield County. The final two seminars are scheduled for Tuesday in Mystic at the Hilton on 20 Coogan Blvd. and Thursday at the Hartford Marriott in Farmington, which is located at 15 Farm Springs Road.

Both seminars are from 8:30 a.m. until noon. Go to www.cl-p.com/business for more information,

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Gov. Rell Weighs in on Obama's Call for More Nuclear Power Plants


Part of President Obama's State of the Union speech Wednesday night called for the building of new nuclear power plants as part of a broad mix of energy sources for the country.

Connecticut Gov. M. Jodi Rell said Thursday that calling for increased use of nuclear power may sound like a good idea, but making it happen won't be so easy.

"We'd be hard pressed to site one in the state of Connecticut," Rell said. "It's difficult to site when parochial interests are involved."

Connecticut is home to a pair of sites where spent nuclear fuel is being kept. Some of it is stored in a section of the former Connecticut Yankee nuclear power plant site in Haddam; the rest at Dominion Energy's Millstone nuclear generating station in Waterford.

Since 2006, Rell has actively supported efforts to get the federal government to move forward with its plans for a nuclear waste repository. The U.S. government established a fund in the early 1980s to build a centralized, permanent storage facility at Yucca Mountain, 90 miles north of Las Vegas.

But the project has seen numerous construction delays and isn’t expected to be completed until 2017. Further complicating efforts to keep the Yucca Mountain plan moving forward is that Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., has sought to block the multi-billion-dollar project’s completion.

But Rell declined to criticize Reid for his opposition to Yucca Mountain.

"I don't blame him," Rell said. "I think most people in his position would do the same thing."

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Report On Electric Cars To Be Released By Environmental Group

It will be interesting to see Environment Connecticut's take on electric cars and the impact the vehicles could have on Connecticut. The West Hartford-based group is scheduled to release a report on electric cars on Wednesday.



One issue I hope the group weighs in on is the availability of recharging stations for the vehicles.

Northeast Utilities announced last April that it plans to develop a network of 575 recharging stations for the vehicles in Connecticut and western Massachusetts. A company spokesman said at the time that some of the stations could be in place by this spring.



From my way of thinking, though, NU's plan is problematic in that it calls for the majority of the charging stations to be built in the homes of people who buy electric cars like the Chevy Volt (shown at left). The Volt is slated to make its market debut sometime before the end of the year.

As a practical matter, it would seem to me that it would make more sense to put a majority of the recharging stations in public places like town halls as well as near parks and town greens.



More consumers are likely to buy these vehicles if they know there is robust network of easily accessible places they can go to recharge them. That's not going to happen if you put them in people's garages or in their driveways.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Lawmakers Bet On Renewable Energy

A familiar theme among Connecticut economists during the current recession is the need for the state to better position itself as center for the renewable power and energy efficiency industries.

The theory is that because the state already has a number of companies in the renewable energy business - like UTC Fuel Cells in South Windsor, Proton Energy Systems in Wallingford and the Shelton-based solar firm Opel International - building blocks are already in place for an expansion of the sector to really take off.

Whether there's any validity in this line of thinking remains to be seen. But one of the state's high powered political leaders - House Speaker Chris Donovan (D-Meriden) - is preparing to put the theory to the test.

Donovan (shown at left in a 2008 photo) announced Thursday that he has created an advisory group to work with the General Assembly to develop a strategy for cultivating new jobs in the energy efficiency and renewable power industries.

The first meeting of the Green Jobs Coordination and Policy Committee -was scheduled for Thursday afternoon. The group's members include officials from clean energy industry and representatives labor groups, environmentalists as well as from the state’s community colleges and technical schools.

Donovan's announcement of the group's creation was long on platitudes and short on specifics, particularly at a time when the state doesn't have a lot of money available to implement any new initiatives.
But let's give him credit for trying, particularly in a legislative environment where the power brokers (no pun intended) are pretty evenly divided between those who would have the state take a greater roll in dealing with the energy business and the free market types.
State Representative Vickie Nardello (D-Prospect) has been selected by Donovan to lead the new advisory group. Nardello (shown at left) also co-chairs the General Assembly’s Energy & Technology Committee, so she knows the subject matter.




You have to wonder, though, how many of the ideas that Nardello's new advisory group comes up with will actually become state policy.
Nardello's co-chair on the Energy & Technology Committee is State Senator John Fonfara (D-Hartford) and while the two lawmakers are members of the same party, they are philosophical opposites.
Fonfara (shown at left) is part of the free market crowd in Hartford when it comes to energy and his opinions could carry plenty of weight among lawmakers who are considering any recommendations coming from Nardello's Green Jobs Coordination and Policy Committee



Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Consumers Continue Exodus To Alternative Power Providers

During a six month period between May 31 and Nov. 30th of 2009, about 23,000 United Illuminating Co. customers chose to seek new power providers in an effort to reduce generation costs on their electric bills.

That’s according to the latest data from the Department of Public Utility Control, which gets monthly reports from both UI and Connecticut Light & Power Co. During the same six month period at CL&P, 58,000 customers switched to alternative power providers, according to the DPUC’s data.

Statewide, about 20 percent of the 1.28 million electric customers in the state, or nearly 260,000, are served by alternative power providers.

Even with about 192,000 of its customers seeking alternative power providers, CL&P still purchases electricity for 1.02 million of its customers. UI still buys power for 259,309 consumers, even after having 67,649 seek out different power generators.

Connecticut lawmakers voted to deregulate the generation portion of the business in 1998. The laws that forced UI and CL&P to sell off their power plants and begin purchasing electricity on the open market didn’t begin until the year 2000.

For more on this story, read Wednesday's New Haven Register.