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Following energy issues in the state of Connecticut and beyond.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Renewable Enegy Goals Could Come at Hefty Price For New England States

Officials with New England’s regional electric grid operator are projecting that it will have to spend billions of dollars to build the new transmission lines needed to bring enough renewable energy into the region if goals set by governors in the six states are to be achieved.

The New England Governors’ Conference set a goal of developing 8,500 megawatts of electricity from wind, hydroelectric and other types of renewable energy by the year 2030, officials with Holyoke, Mass.-based ISO-New England said Thursday.“

Dramatic changes in the way electricity is produced, delivered and consumed are in store for us in the coming years,” said Gordon van Welie (see photo at left), president and chief executive officer of ISO-NE.

Marcia Blomberg, a spokeswoman with the grid operator, said the report ISO-NE gave to the governors “was prepared to provide the region a general direction on what would be needed to interconnect large scale wind development both on- and offshore in the 2030 time frame.

“It was not written with any current particular project or projects in mind,” Blomberg said. “The cost estimates ... were to help provide guidance on what transmission upgrades would be needed and broad cost estimates of this transmission.”

van Welie said the region’s governors “haven’t given us any clear direction” on what they want to do if integrating renewables into the grid ends up costing that much. He said that a lack of certainty about where the region and the entire country are going in terms of energy policy could prevent companies from investing in generation and transmission projects in the future if some decisions aren’t made in a timely manner.
See today's New Haven Register for more information on this story.

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Monday, March 15, 2010

CL&P Rates Dominate DPUC Calendar

Commissioners at the Department of Public Utility Control have a full dance card this week as hearings on a $210 million rate increase request by Connecticut Light & Power begin in earnest.

The hearings kicked off today and will continue every day for the remainder of the week, said Phil Dukes, a DPUC spokesman. The agency also has plans for hearings at six locations around the state between now and May 21 when a draft decision is expected on the case, Dukes said.

The proposed rate increase would take effect July 1, but the utility would not begin collecting it until the start of 2011. Deferring the collection of the proposed rate increase is designed to coincide with an expected 5 percent decrease in customers’ bills as bonds associated with electric deregulation are paid off.

CL&P officials have said the Berlin, Conn.-based utility had originally intended to file a rate case in 2008, but put it off because of economic conditions in the state. But the company says it has to ask for the rate hike now because it needs the money make upgrades to CL&P’s aging distribution network.

Connecticut Attorney General Richard Blumenthal is opposed to the rate hike, which he says will deprive consumers from reaping the benefits of a decrease in their electric bills during a tough economy.