On July 26, 2017, the Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (DEEP) released its draft 2017 Comprehensive Energy Strategy (CES or Strategy). DEEP is required to prepare this policy assessment pursuant to Connecticut General Statutes § 16a-3d and update it every three years. The statute requires that DEEP assess and plan for all energy needs in the state, including, but not limited to, electricity, heating, cooling, and transportation. DEEP must incorporate other Connecticut energy planning documents into the Strategy, including the Integrated Resources Plan and the Conservation and Load Management Plan. DEEP is further required to consider paths to achieve the least-cost mix of energy supply sources and measures that reduce demand for energy, giving due regard to such factors as consumer price impacts, security and diversity of fuel supplies, public health and safety, environmental goals, conservation of energy resources and the state’s economy.
DEEP was created in 2011, when Governor Malloy merged the Departments of Environmental Protection and Public Utility Control. Energy staff was split between an energy policy wing, and the independent quasi-judicial Public Utilities Regulatory Authority (PURA). The newly-minted DEEP Bureau of Energy and Technology Policy released the first CES for public comment in 2012. Finalized in 2013, the Strategy focused on five areas: energy efficiency, industrial energy needs, electricity supply, natural gas, and transportation. The 2017 CES narrows its focus to three sectors: Electric Power, Buildings and Transportation.
Electric Power Sector
The CES opens with a primer on the regional electric grid, focusing on issues that have led to overreliance on natural gas as New England’s primary generating fuel. DEEP advances electric sector recommendations while keeping an eye on the goals of Connecticut’s Global Warming Solutions Act, which requires the state to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 10% from 1990 levels by 2020 and 80% from 2001 levels by 2050 (Conn. Gen. Stat. § 22a-200a). In order to meet these ambitious goals, DEEP recommends that the state dramatically decarbonize its energy usage. Many of the Electric Power Sector recommendations focus on this goal, including expanding the state’s Renewable Portfolio Standard to 30% Class I renewables by 2030 and phasing down the percentage of sustainable biomass and landfill methane gas renewable energy certificates (RECs). The Strategy highlights the decreasing cost of renewable energy, both at grid-scale and behind-the-meter.
This chapter of the CES discusses the energy needs of the state’s building infrastructure, including residential, commercial and industrial segments. Connecticut’s energy efficiency programs are developed through the Conservation and Load Management plan and overseen by the Connecticut Energy Efficiency Board. DEEP’s Buildings Sector recommendations include:
The final chapter in the 2017 Strategy discusses transportation. Emissions from the transportation sector represent the largest portion of Connecticut’s State Energy Profile. As Connecticut’s transportation sector transitions toward decarbonization, Connecticut consumers will increase energy demand on the system.
Next StepsPURA must comment on the Strategy’s impact on electric and natural gas ratepayers. DEEP is seeking stakeholder input on the 2017 CES within the next 60 days. DEEP plans to hold a series of public and technical meetings and the agency is accepting written comments until September 25, 2017 at 4:00pm.
Locke Lord’s Energy Regulatory Team is available to answer any questions, or address any comments or concerns regarding the 2017 Comprehensive Energy Strategy.
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