Blogs > Power to the People

Following energy issues in the state of Connecticut and beyond.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Canadian Attorney Named to OPEL Solar Board

Shelton-based OPEL Solar has named John O'Donnell, a Toronto-based attorney, to serve on its board of directors.

O'Donnell is filling a vacancy created last week by the resignation of Samuel Paralta, who resigned because he was being asked to take on greater responsibilities on other corporate boards that he serves on.

The selection of  O'Donnell is important because it helped fulfill a requirement that Opel must meet as company incorporated in Canada and listed on that nation's stock exchange. Opel is required to have Canadian residents make up at least 25 percent of its board of directors.

OPEL Solar makes equipment used in solar energy systems.

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One Down, One To Go For NU Merger?

The Boston Globe is reporting that utility regulators in Massachusetts have given their approval to the proposed merger between Northeast Utilities and Boston-based NStar.

Approval of the deal comes the day after Connecticut utility regulators began their review of the deal.

Update: Turns out there was a little more than there initially appeared to be with this story. What Massachusetts regulators approved, according to the Associated Press, was a deal that is expected to clear  the way for Massachusetts regulators’ approval of a merger between the two utility giants.

The deal announced by Massachusetts Secretary of Environmental Affairs Richard Sullivan, according to the AP, calls for a four-year freeze on base distribution rates, a one-time $21 million credit for ratepayers and a promise that the merger would protect jobs for Massachusetts utility workers. It also calls for the merged companies to buy 27.5 percent of the electricity produced by the Cape Wind project, which will produce 420 megawatts of power when it is built in Nantucket Sound.

The deal still must be approved by regulators in both Massachusetts and Connecticut.

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Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Environmental Group Seeks To Protect NU-Owned Lands In Merger

Nearly a dozen New Haven area parcels of land are part of a vast amount of open space owned by Northeast Utilities that a statewide environmental group is trying to protect by becoming an intervenor in an upcoming hearing on the utility's proposed merger the company with Boston-based NStar.

Connecticut Fund for the Environment is asking the state Public Utilities Regulatory Authority (PURA) for the designation. Being designated as an intervenor would give the group “the right to fully participate in the merger hearings,” which begin Tuesday, said Dennis Schain, a spokesman for PURA.

CFE is seeking intervenor status because the group wants to be sure that 9,500 acres of open space owned by NU statewide will be protected.

“We are not opposing the proposed merger between Northeast Utilities and NStar,” said Curt Johnson, program director for CFE. “However, if the merger occurs, there will be a change in management at NU, which could have a negative impact on the company’s land stewardship policies.”

Johnson, shown at left in a photo with Senator Joe Lieberman, said CFE is seeking to extend a memorandum of understanding between NU and the state that was reached in the aftermath of the company’s failed merger attempt with New York City-based Consolidated Edison.

That agreement is set to expire in two years and protects nearly 375 parcels of land that have been identified as having a high value for recreation or natural resource conservation, he said. Among the parcels of land included in that agreement are:

- 41 acres in Clinton.
- 9.5 acres in Hamden.
- Three parcels in Oxford near the Stevenson Dam totaling 65 acres.
- Several parcels in Wallingford covering 89 acres.
- 16 acres in Woodbridge.

The largest single tract of land that NU owns which is covered by the agreement is 854 acres in Middletown, Johnson said.

The memorandum of understanding gives towns and land trusts the right of first refusal should NU try to sell these properties.

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Heating Oil Trade Group Offers Solar Training

A trade group representing home heating oil dealers is probably the last place that you'd expect to offer training on installing solar power systems.

But you'd be wrong. The Independent Connecticut Petroleum Association has offered training for solar power system installers since 2010, said Gene Guilford, president and chief executive officer of the Cromwell-based group (shown at left).

"We've always very much believed that every energy company should diversify as much as it can," Guilford said Tuesday. "We started a school in 1978 training HVAC workers and have diversified the training over the years."

The school, which is located at ICPA's Cromwell headquarters,  has enabled 200 people thus far to get the state certification they need to become solar equipment installers, he said. The Connecticut Department of Consumer Protection oversees the certification process.

ICPA solar installation training is offered on a regular basis, Guilford said.

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