As if energy costs aren’t high enough already, the state is considering new fees on natural gas and electric bills. The money raised by these fees would supposedly be invested in cost-effective energy efficiency programs, but there’s no guarantee that would happen, and recent history gives us good reason to doubt it.
The proposal–part of an enormous energy bill which I opposed–would result in an increase of more than $4.50 a month on the average residential electric bill, and $7.00 a month on natural gas bills. The money would theoretically be earmarked to increase spending on energy efficiency programs from an estimated $122 million in 2013 to $231 million in 2014.
Just last year, the governor and majority party raided money from the conservation and load management fund to help balance the state budget, diverting funds intended to make Connecticut more energy efficient in order to feed the insatiable spending appetite at the capitol.
The state’s top energy official recently told reporters that there is no guarantee that energy efficiency money would not be diverted in the future. As lawmakers—and as taxpayers—we must demand that guarantee. If consumers are charged more on their utility bills in the name of energy efficiency, then that is what the money must go.
The trouble is, the legislature has the power to undo any promise we make. The only way to guarantee responsible government which follows through on its pledges is to elect men and women who believe in fiscal prudence and will keep their word.
State officials are now considering these new fees and will decide soon on their imposition. If you would like to weigh in on the issue, public comment on the draft energy policy for the state will be invited during the next month.
Please mail your comments to: Executive Secretary, Public Utilities Regulatory Authority, 10 Franklin Square, New Britain, CT 06051. Comments may also be submitted to the PURA via e-mail addressed to PURA.ExecutiveSecretary@ct.gov. Feel free to copy me on your email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
For more information on the state’s energy plan, visit www.dpuc.state.ct.us
For my part, I will do my best to advocate at the capitol and throughout the state for genuine fiscal responsibility. The last thing we need at this moment is another increase in our crushing energy bills.
Sen. Markley represents the 16th district towns of Southington, Prospect, Wolcott, Waterbury, and Cheshire.