Public support for expanding access mounts amid attacks on solar in Statehouse
As state lawmakers consider two vastly different bills that would have conflicting impacts on Connecticut’s energy future, more than14,000 residents called on legislators to support Senate Bill 366 to establish a statewide community solar program. The measure would give customers who can’t put solar on their own property a way to take part in a shared solar installation located somewhere else in their community and earn savings on their energy bills for their portion of the clean power produced by that community solar system.
"For solar power to truly transform energy systems and local economies, it needs to be available to everyone. Community solar programs like the one proposed in Senate Bill 336 have to be part of the solution. CREDO members in Connecticut have called on their legislators to pass S.B. 336 because it's the only bill on the table that represents real progress towards a clean energy future," said Brandy Doyle, Campaign Manager at CREDO Action, which raises awareness and support for clean energy measures among its grassroots members.
Senators Winfield and Formica and Representative Reed are pushing to further expand local solar opportunity by establishing a new community solar program with SB 336. However, a bill crafted and pushed by Governor Malloy, SB 9, would do the opposite, severely limiting the ability of customers to choose solar.
Vote Solar analysis last year found that a modest community solar program would put more than 2,500 people to work in its first year and generate $81 million in tax revenue for Connecticut’s cash-strapped local governments. The state’s growing solar energy sector currently employs 2,168 according to The Solar Foundation’s National Solar Job Census.
“After years of delay, it’s time for Hartford lawmakers to finally answer constituents’ call for more access to clean energy. Solar has the overwhelming support of the public because it means more local solar investment, more local solar jobs and healthier, more resilient communities. We urge legislators to expand access to solar through community solar and reject attacks on net metering this session so that more Connecticut customers can benefit from our nation’s booming clean energy economy,” said Sean Garren, Northeast Senior Director at Vote Solar.
“Connecticut residents have exercised their voices, and they are calling for community solar power,” said Louis Burch, CT Program Director for Citizens Campaign for the Environment. “While we have remained overly dependent on polluting fuel sources and clean energy resources generated out of state, 15 other states have already begun to realize the benefits of clean, locally generated solar power by embracing community solar. Connecticut lawmakers should stand up for the interests of their constituents, help modernize our energy system and end our reliance on fossil fuels by expanding access to community solar for all.”
In addition to calling for a statewide community solar program, several thousand Connecticut residents working with the Citizens Campaign for the Environment also called on lawmakers to raise the state’s renewable portfolio standard to 50% by 2030 and to repeal the ratepayer pipeline tax, which charges customers to develop new fossil fuels.
While SB 366’s supporters - and three out of four Connecticut voters - want solar progress, there are some in Hartford who are slowing that progress by instead proposing policies that would restrict consumer access to solar power. SB 9 would roll back the state’s successful net metering program, which is the single most important state policy for empowering individuals and businesses to go solar.