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Photo: Jan Ellen Spiegel

AP News, April 29, 2022

Connecticut lawmakers voted Thursday to officially set a target of 2040 for having a carbon-free electricity supply, despite skepticism about whether the state can meet that goal and whether ratepayers can afford the cost.

The legislation, which codifies an executive order issued in 2019 by Democratic Gov. Ned Lamont, would make Connecticut the 11th state to set the ambitious objective.

“By codifying our zero-carbon electric grid target into state law, we are providing a critical direction for state and local agencies, utility companies, and other partners as we collectively plan and implement Connecticut’s energy policies over the coming years,” Lamont said in a written statement. ”This is an important action we are taking to help mitigate the impacts of the climate crisis that we are already starting to experience.”

The governor said he plans to sign the bill into law in the coming days.

But state Rep. Cindy Harrison, R-Southbury, said she worries the legislation, which does not include any mandates or penalties for failing to reach the goal, could ultimately lead to higher electric rates for consumers.

“While these goals may be admirable, I again have my concerns when we do this and we put it (onto) the ratepayers,” she said.

The bill cleared the House of Representatives by a vote of 113-35 on Thursday, days after the Senate unanimously passed the legislation.

Some House members questioned whether the goal of a carbon-free electric supply can be met, considering the state is not on track to meet greenhouse gas reduction targets previously set by the General Assembly.

But Department of Energy and Environmental Protection Commissioner Katie Dykes said in recent written testimony that the state has “already made substantial progress” toward reaching Lamont’s target of a 100% carbon-free electric grid.

Dykes noted that the state has zero-emissions renewable energy sources and electricity generated from nuclear energy under contract which are the equivalent to 74% of the power used by customers of the state’s two largest utilities.

That percentage, she said, is expected to climb to 95% by 2025 when contracted off-shore wind and solar projects are expected to begin commercial operation.