Power companies seek renewable energy

In the wake of a new Connecticut energy law, leading electrical companies have begun to investigate renewable energy options.

Because the new energy law, which took effect on July 1, promotes energy efficiency and renewable power, Connecticut’s two largest electrical companies — Connecticut Light and Power, and United Illuminating — are exploring sources of renewable energy. Representatives from both utilities said their companies are investigating environmentally friendly energy sources including solar and wind power.

The new law requires companies to raise over a billion dollars over the next six years in renewable energy, according to Michael West, director of corporate communications for United Illuminating Holdings, the parent company of United Illuminating.

The new energy bill is the “most forward leading clean energy law that’s been passed anywhere in America in the last five or 10 years,” Daniel Esty LAW ’86, a former Yale Law School professor and current commissioner of the Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection, told the News.

Connecticut Light and Power, a company that provides electricity to 149 communities in Connecticut, has yet to decide what action to take in response to the new law, according to Connecticut Light and Power spokesman Mitch Gross, who added that the company is taking a cautious approach towards the bill. Gross said all of his company’s renewable energy initiatives remain at the developmental stage. The company has an internal team looking at proposals, he said, but nothing has been decided upon.

“As of now there are no plans, no time frames and no deadlines,” Gross said. “We are kind of just putting our toe in the water right now with regard to possible renewables.”

Connecticut Light and Power is methodically approaching all of the proposals from potential developers because Connecticut Light and Power is focusing on its customers’ needs, Gross said.

West said United Illuminating — the electrical company that services New Haven — and Connecticut Light and Power have issued a joint request to obtain detailed information from companies that have been previously involved in renewable energy projects.

United Illuminating is accepting applications until Oct. 17 from developers who wish to build renewable energy plants. After that date, United Illuminating will make a decision about the most cost-effective way to proceed, West said.

E. Donald Elliot ’70, LAW ‘74, a professor at Yale Law School who specializes in environmental law, said solar power is generally more expensive than wind or conventional fuel. He added that both Connecticut Light and Power and United Illuminating will consider the cost of using a particular type of energy and the cost to run service lines for that power.

Connecticut Light and Power provides electricity to 1.2 million customers across Connecticut. United Illuminating provides electricity to 325,000 customers in the greater New Haven and Bridgeport areas.

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