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Environmentalists, Utilities Don’t Want to Lose Conservation Funds
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Connecticut’s State Treasurer and the Office of Policy and Management have developed a financing plan for generating up to 1.3 billion dollars for the state budget for Fiscal Year 2011. Among the options being considered is to use funds that currently pay for energy efficiency programs. Environmental groups are criticizing the proposal.

Every month Connecticut electric ratepayers pay a surcharge on their electric bills. That money funds programs that help weatherize homes and businesses. It also funds clean energy programs such as homeowner rebates for solar electricity. The Governor’s office is considering an option to use as much as 37 percent of these ratepayer funds to support the debt service on $1.3 billion dollars as a way to shore up the budget.

A spokesperson for Connecticut Light and Power says besides making homes more energy efficient these ratepayer funds have generated more than 2600 green jobs in the state. Christopher Phelps of Environment Connecticut says the Governor’s plan would hurt Connecticut’s clean energy businesses.

“Unfortunately by diverting that money to the state to pay down the state budget deficit it turns what really is a benefit, a charge that actually provides more clean energy, more efficiency and lower electric bills for everybody, it turns it into a stealth tax.”

Bob Genario of the Office of Policy and Management says he and the Governor’s office would prefer other options such as cutting state spending. But he says the state legislature directed his office and the state treasurer to develop options for paying back investors. Another option being proposed is to use revenues from new lottery gameshhhh, such as Keno.