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Following energy issues in the state of Connecticut and beyond.

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


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