Governor Lamont Outlines Proposed Climate Legislation
Calls for Zero-Carbon Electricity Supply by 2040, Reduced Emissions, Streamlined Adaptations, and Protection of Most Vulnerable
(HARTFORD, CT) – Underscoring the urgent threat posed to the state by the climate crisis, Governor Ned Lamont today outlined key legislative proposals he is introducing for the 2021 regular session of the Connecticut General Assembly to adapt to the very real and unavoidable impacts of climate change, mitigate the sources and impacts of climate change beyond 2050, and prioritize the most vulnerable communities. Many of the proposals implement recommendations of the Governor’s Council on Climate Change for near-term climate action, delivered to Governor Lamont in January 2021.
The time for continued consequential action to address the climate crisis is now, the governor said, as it has already altered Connecticut’s climate with impacts the state will see between now and 2050. These impacts include up to 20 inches of sea level rise, increased frequency of flooding with water levels like those experienced during Superstorm Sandy every 5 to 10 years, increased average temperatures of 5°F and heat waves, increased drought risk, increased frequency of extreme rainfall events, and greater amounts of precipitation and stronger winds during storm events.
Connecticut has been a leader in efforts to address the climate crisis, and the steps outlined in Governor Lamont’s bills are necessary for the state to remain in that position. The good news, as evidenced in the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (DEEP)’s draft Integrated Resources Plan, and in the recently completed Phase 1 process of the reconstituted Governor’s Council on Climate Change (GC3), is that many of the investments the state has already made have put us on a strong path to achieving our zero-carbon goal, and that stakeholders from all sectors are rolling up their sleeves to help solve this seemingly insurmountable challenge.
“These bills place Connecticut at the forefront of the nation and the region’s efforts to address climate change and continue the state’s long record of leadership on this critical issue,” Governor Lamont said. “The climate crisis is upon us, and its effects will only become more apparent in the years to come. We need to both adapt to this reality and continue to take bold action to fight it.”
“Meaningful actions to both mitigate and adapt to the realities of climate change are essential to preserving our way of life going forward,” DEEP Commissioner Katie Dykes said. “These proposals will drive jobs and economic opportunity, improve air quality and public health, strengthen safe, livable communities, and help homeowners and renters make more affordable choices.”
Governor Lamont’s legislative proposals address climate mitigation and adaptation in the following ways:
While Connecticut has already made significant progress in decarbonizing its grid, we must sustain this progress to ensure our efforts to electrify the rest of the economy are making as much progress on reducing emissions as possible. And investments in zero carbon electricity generation will support clean energy jobs across the state.
Connecticut consumers also need information. Energy bills are a significant burden on working families across the state, especially in our center cities, with households between zero to 30 percent of area median income spending 20 percent of their income on energy bills and households between 30 to 60 percent spending 9 percent. Those burdens have been increased during the COVID-19 pandemic and associated economic downturn, which have forced consumers into hundreds of millions of dollars of utility arrears.
This bill addresses each of these needs in the following ways:
- Codifies into statute the goal of a zero-carbon electric supply for Connecticut by 2040, as set out in Gov. Lamont’s Executive Order No. 3 and included as a recommendation in the Draft Integrated Resource Plan (IRP).
- Allows DEEP to procure up to 300,000 MWh of electricity (equivalent to approximately one percent of Connecticut’s load) from demand response and energy efficiency measures. These resources are proven to save customers money and provide stability and reliability to the electric grid in all hours of the day as we increase the deployment of intermittent resources such as wind and solar.
- Requires property owners listing homes for sale or lease to provide prospective buyers and tenants with either a Home Energy Label – a number generated during a home energy audit that summarizes the property’s energy efficiency – or the last twelve months of energy bills. Affordability and efficiency begin with transparency into costs and opportunities to reduce them.
In December, Governor Lamont joined Massachusetts, Rhode Island, and Washington D.C. in committing to the Transportation and Climate Initiative Program (TCI-P), a groundbreaking, multi-jurisdictional program that pursues systematic and substantial reductions in motor vehicle pollution – the largest source of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions – and re-invests in cleaner transit, modern infrastructure, and healthier communities.
Transportation is the largest source of GHG emissions in Connecticut (38 percent) and a substantial contributor to harmful air pollution. Poor air quality exacerbates acute and chronic respiratory problems such as asthma, Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease, and other lung diseases. Immediate action is needed to address these issues. The governor’s bill authorizes Connecticut to join the TCI-P program.
Some facts about the program:
- TCI-P will cap CO2 emissions from gasoline and on-road diesel fuel and require wholesale fuel suppliers to purchase “allowances” at auction to cover the emissions from those fuels.
- The proceeds of the auctions will be reinvested into transportation projects and programs, such as expanded bus service and electric vehicle chargers, that reduce greenhouse gas emissions. At least 35 percent of the proceeds will directly benefit communities that are overburdened by air pollution and underserved by public transportation, and the state will establish an Equity Advisory Board to advise DEEP and DOT on how to best use the proceeds to facilitate equitable outcomes within those communities.
- The cap-and-invest mechanism is projected to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 26 percent over a 10-year period (2023 to 2032).
- TCI-P is projected to increase retail gas prices in participating jurisdictions by 5 cents per gallon beginning in 2023, assuming fuel suppliers choose to pass down 100 percent of allowance costs to consumers. Multiple consumer protection safeguards, including a cost containment reserve, are designed to limit the impact of the program on prices at the pump and would kick in at nine cents per gallon.
- The budget dedicates $24.4 million of FY23 TCI-P auction proceeds to preserving current transit programs and reserves the rest for other projects and programs that will reduce emissions and benefit communities underserved by public transportation and overburdened by air pollution. By 2032 cumulative revenues from TCI-P are expected to be $1 billion, with more than one-third of that dedicated to underserved community projects.
This proposal addresses the rising seas, frequent flooding, heat waves, and drought we can expect to see in the state between now and 2050. It prioritizes the protection of our frontline vulnerable communities who will feel those effects first and worst. It provides Connecticut’s communities more options to move from adaptation and resilience planning to implementing their project pipeline, including the use of nature-based and green infrastructure solutions. It builds upon the Connecticut Green Bank’s success and leadership financing clean energy investments, and sets Connecticut up for the growing federal investment in resilience projects, which will require a local match.
This proposal does the following:
- Authorizes the creation of municipal stormwater authorities statewide, expanding the current pilot program for municipal stormwater authorities by giving all municipalities the ability to create such an authority. In turn, this body may address reductions in stormwater pollution and flooding, help municipalities afford green infrastructure and resiliency investments, and leverage additional state and federal funding sources.
- Authorizes municipalities to have the option to adopt a buyer’s real estate conveyance fee. This local-option, dedicated fee could be used by municipalities to fund municipal land conservation, stewardship, climate mitigation, resilience and adaptation strategies, and other community environmental projects. The legislation is structured to ensure that the program does not undermine the development of affordable housing in the participating municipalities.
- Authorizes municipal flood and erosion control boards to undertake a wider range of climate resilience activities, including utilizing nature-based solutions, restoring natural floodplains, and reserving open space for future migration of wetlands.
- Expands the scope of the Connecticut Green Bank beyond clean energy and efficiency, allowing it to support investments in water, waste and recycling, climate adaptation and resilience, agriculture, land conservation, parks and recreation, and environmental markets. The Green Bank would be allowed to utilize its bonding authority, as well as seek federal funding, to raise capital to invest in and stimulate more private investment in such projects in Connecticut.
The Department of Energy and Environmental Protection is also recommending legislation that would allow interested municipalities to establish a stretch building code requiring more energy efficient construction and that would minimize consumer’s energy costs from newly purchased household appliances.