Energy Bill Powers Controversy at State Capitol

The state Senate passed a wide-ranging energy reform bill that created plenty of controversy.

Advocates say it could lead to lower electric rates, but opponents maintain it could ultimately hurt the typical family and business.

The bill passed on a 20-14 vote and is considered one of the biggest changes to the state's electric industry since deregulation more than a decade ago.  

The new measure now awaits action in the House of Representatives, where it's expected to face stiff opposition from Republicans.

The bill calls for adopting California's energy standards for televisions and other appliances and for providing low-interest financing to help property owners make energy efficiency improvements.

"The future is about finding ways to use energy intelligently and to reduce our carbon footprint," said Charles Rothenberger, a staff attorney for the nonprofit Connecticut Fund for the Environment. "Now we are one step closer in bringing renewable energy into more homes and businesses in the state."

The Rell Administration has expressed concerns with the bill, which reorganizes the state's Department of Public Utility Control. Questions have also been raised about whether the financial incentives aimed at helping the state's budding solar industry would ultimately increase costs for ratepayers and would hinder their to choose alternative electric suppliers.

Democratic Senator Robert Duff of Norwalk voted against the energy reform package.

"We are using subtle ways of taking people's choices away," Duff said. "I believe that that ends up hurting consumer choice. It ends up hurting the retail market and ultimately ends up potentially raising prices as well."

Contact Us