Lawmakers Tap Energy Funds to Balance Budget
Environmentalists are giving state legislators a mixed report card for the session that's just ended. They're happy with parts of the state's new energy policy. But a raid on clean energy funds is causing major concern.
In an effort to approve a budget on time last week, state legislators will tap about 25 million dollars, over the next two years, from a conservation fund known as the Green Bank or Clean Energy Finance and Investment Authority. The state hopes to move some revenues from another energy fund, the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative to help fill that hole. William Dornbos directs Environment Northeast. He says Connecticut could potentially lose out on local job creation, reduction in air pollution, and lower energy bills for consumers. "It puts Connecticut's clean energy and energy and energy efficiency progress, and there has been substantial progress over the last couple of years. It potentially puts that at risk because these funds were going to be used as investments," he said. Environmental supporters hope this is a one time move and that it doesn't set a precedent. Lawmakers also passed two energy bills during this legislative session. One bill introduces a comprehensive energy strategy: "We are pleased with that bill. It doubles the funding for electric energy measures in the state. It also does the same for natural gas efficiency measures," Dornbos said. Environment Northeast has expressed concern about investment in new natural gas lines across the state, which Dornbos says could create a reliance on natural gas well after its needed. The second bill changes energy renewal standards.