DEEP: 2013 General Assembly Session

2013 General Assembly Session: 
Building CT’s Leadership on Energy and Environmental Issues
 
 
The 2013 session of the General Assembly rates as one of the most productive in recent history for environmental and energy issues.
 
Thanks to the support of Governor Malloy and many, many legislators, we were successful in winning passage of several bills that advanced our environmental efforts to maintain high standards while employing a “lighter” regulatory touch.  The legislature also authorized bonding for the largest investment ever in the state’s Clean Water Fund, and for the continued acquisition of open space.  On the energy front, legislation was approved that helps bring life to our goal of bringing cheaper, cleaner, and more reliable power to our state’s residents and businesses. 
 
We thank all of those who supported our efforts this session and encourage you to take a few minutes to review this list of energy and environmental legislative accomplishments.
 
Dan Esty, Commissioner
 
 
Environmental Quality
High Standards – Lighter Touch
 
We’ve strengthened our commitment to environmental protection – with added focus on bigger risks – while streamlining and “lightening” regulatory burdens for lower risk and more routine matters.
 
Commitment to Water Quality – Clean Water Fund
  • Bond package in SB 842 enhances CT’s national leadership in water quality and clean water infrastructure.
  • Includes record setting $1 billion commitment for grants and loans to support municipal wastewater treatment, with a special focus on phosphorous, a key concern of municipalities.
  • These investments will create an estimated 21,000 jobs in our state.  
Cleanup of Contaminated Sites
  • CT industrial legacy left thousands of contaminated sites across the state.
  • HB6651 maintains high standards while accelerating the cleanup process to put lands  - especially in urban areas - back into productive use.
  • Requires “make safe” actions to limit public’s exposure to sites with high levels of contamination – related bond item provides funding to assist small businesses with these actions.
  • Allows municipalities to take action to prepare underutilized properties for redevelopment without exposure to liability for cleanup.
  • Lightens regulatory burdens on developers of low-risk properties by providing  cleanup standards tailored to proposed future uses.
Waste Transformation
  • Opportunity to strengthen CT’s leadership in materials management.
  • SB1081 sets us on course to increase the recycling rate and lower per capita disposal costs by recapturing more of valuable materials in waste stream.
  • Fosters economic development and job creation, reduces municipal disposal costs and burdens, redefines roles of regional organizations including CRRA.
  • Lays groundwork for a “Green Bank” for waste by expanding the scope of CEFIA.
  • Strengthens opportunities to capture organic wastes – now 30% of waste stream.
  • CT leading the way on Producer Responsibility  –  mattress recycling added to CT’s e-waste and paint recycling programs.
Coastal Resiliency
  • Working with General Assembly’s Shoreline Task Force, we are supporting CT’s coastal communities and residents in preparing, adapting, and sustaining themselves in the face of more frequent and severe storms.
    • SB1010 takes a forward look at sea level rise to guide state investments.
    • SB 1012 requires development of best practices for permitting of coastal structures and refines coastal regulatory procedures for ease of use by the public.
    • SB1013 endorses establishment of a Coastal Climate and Resiliency Center to provide resources and technical support.
Dam Safety
  • Increased frequency of large storms and flooding events requires focus on dam maintenance.
  • Dams are integral part of CT infrastructure – more than 5,500 in state, almost three-quarters privately owned.
  • DEEP staff has been responsible for inspection of BOTH state-owned and privately-owned dams.
  • HB6441 provides for improved oversight by requiring dam owners to conduct periodic inspections and make necessary repairs – all by certified experts.
  • Requires all dams meeting certain criteria to be registered with state and streamlines approval process for minor repairs.
Streamlining Government
  • Improve customer experience for regulated community, municipalities, and public.
  • Transform agency processes to make them faster and more effective, efficient, responsive, predicable, and transparent.
  • SB1019 and HB6653 eliminate outdated requirements and simplify or modify other environmental rules and regulations. 
Energy
Major Steps Toward Cheaper, Cleaner and, More Reliable Energy
 
We’ve taken critical steps to implement Governor Malloy's Comprehensive Energy Strategy, restructure the Renewable Portfolio Standards, and move forward with CT’s 21st century energy agenda.
 
Energy efficiency
  • Doubles funding for residential, commercial, and industrial energy efficiency investments throughout the state (HB6360 , Sec. 16).
  • Commits an additional $25 million for energy efficiency upgrades in state buildings, on top of existing $43 million investment (SB 842).
  • Creates a robust “decoupling” mechanism to ensure that utilities are properly incentivized for investments in energy efficiency (HB6360 , Section 11).
  • Ensures availability of energy efficiency financing to lower income households (HB 6360 , Section 29).
  • Allows for submetering for all residences and businesses that use a Class I renewable or Combined Heat and Power (CHP) unit for generation, which will result in increased energy efficiency gains and lower energy demand (HB6360 , Sections 36-38).
  • Allows for residents to utilize on-bill financing to pay for heating systems and energy efficiency upgrades (HB6360 , Section 58).
  • Creates a new “Energize” program that drives energy efficiency upgrades through community aggregation (HB6360 , Section 52).
  • Promotes water conservation – and conservation of the energy used to treat and deliver it – through changes in water company rate structures (SB 807).
Cleaner electricity
  • Allows for large-scale procurement of regional renewable power, commencing immediately (SB1138 ) with policy tools (long-term contracts, reverse auctions, reduced reliance on older biomass projects, etc.) to ensure that projects get built at the lowest possible cost to ratepayers.
  • Tightens standards for biomass to qualify as Class I Renewable (SB1138 ), ensuring most effective use of limited clean energy incentive dollar.
  • Increases competitiveness in the clean electricity marketplace by introducing large-scale hydropower, which will result in lower electricity rates to consumers (SB1138 ).
  • Averts funding shortfall for Clean Energy Finance and Investment Authority (HB6706 ).
  • Creates a property tax exemption for Class I renewable power projects (SB 203, Section 1).
  • Expands virtual net metering for government entities to include critical facilities and enables agricultural virtual net metering (HB 6360, Section 35).
Natural Gas
  • Requires gas utilities to create an action agenda that will convert roughly 300,000 non-gas customers to cheaper and cleaner natural gas supply ( HB6360 , Section 51).
  • Creates a new “Energize” program that drives natural gas conversions through community aggregation (HB6360 , Section 52).
  • Revises the “hurdle rate” from 15 to 25 years to facilitate expansion of the natural gas infrastructure by better aligning financing terms with the life expectancy of gas mains (HB6360 , Section 51) and allowing gas companies to finance more gas main extensions.
Transportation
  • Enables the state to use non-taxpayers dollars to help deploy electric vehicle charging stations through the EVConnecticut initiative (HB6360 , Section 53).
  • Allows for adjustment of the rate structure for electric vehicle charging stations (HB6360 , Section 64).
Resilience
  • Commits an additional $30 million for the build-out of microgrids across the state (SB 842). 
  • Adjusts regulatory framework to allow for municipal ownership of microgrids that cross a public right of way (HB6360 , Section 39).
Environmental Conservation
Protecting Natural Resources and Wildlife for Future Generations
 
We’ve enhanced our ability to safeguard the great diversity of landscapes, water bodies, and animal species that we find in our state. 
 
Preserving and Protecting Valuable Lands
  • Bond package in SB 842 provides:
    • $20 million for state acquisition of open space lands under the Recreation and Natural Heritage Trust Program.
    • $20 million for grants to municipalities and land trust organizations to support local open space purchase under the Open Space and Watershed Land Acquisition Grant Program.
Hunting and Fishing
  • SB 1018 strengthened and modernized laws concerning recreation and commercial fishing to better protect our fisheries, and creates and exemption for veterinarians to care for certain sick and injured animals.
  • CT was authorized to participate in the Interstate Wildlife Violator Compact – a program ensuring reciprocity of fishing and hunting licenses among 39 member states - as a result of passage of SB 1020.
Arborists and Tree Wardens
  • As a result of several recent major storms, there is increased concern over the management of trees across our state
  • HB 6538 provides for improved registration and regulation of arborists new requirements to help ensure the effectiveness of municipal tree wardens.
 
Content last updated June 18, 2013