A Hartford-based public advocacy group and three others have made a broad Freedom of Information Act request for documents concerning the state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection’s energy policy, particularly as it relates to proposed changes for the state’s renewable energy portfolio.
The request made by Connecticut Citizen Action Group, the state’s chapter of Common Cause, West Hartford-based independent energy consultant Joel Gordes and Colin Bennett, a volunteer coordinator with 350 Connecticut, a grass-roots climate organization. The FOI filing came Friday as DEEP officials were releasing their final report on recommendations for changes to the renewable energy portfolio.
“We’re try to get to the bottom of how decision are made about the state’s energy policy and whether the input of citizens and concerned groups is being taken seriously,” said John Murphy, organizing director for Connecticut Citizen Action. “We believe a lot of good input was cast aside and ignored.”
Dennis Schain, a DEEP spokesman, said agency officials are reviewing the FOI request and will begin assembling the requested material as soon as possible.
“When we do respond, it should come as a surprise to no one, that the records will show ongoing contacts and conversations with a wide range of people across the entire energy arena,” Schain said. “ This agency is charged with developing and implementing energy policies – and the only way to do that effectively is to be talking constantly with all stakeholders.”
Environmentalists have been battling with DEEP Commissioner Dan Esty over proposed changes to the renewable energy portfolio. They say his plan de-emphasizes wind and solar power in favor of allowing large scale hydropower to become part of the portfolio.
The final version of the report on the proposed changes to Connecticut’s renewable energy portfolio includes the large scale hydropower provision. Other key element of the report include:
‰Gradually phasing out incentives for biomass and landfill gas facilities to create opportunities for cleaner sources, such as wind and solar.
‰Expanding the eligibility requirements to include anaerobic digesters and biologically derived methane gas, which is produced from sources such as yard and plant matter, food waste, animal waste and sewage sludge.
‰Authorize the state to coordinate with other New England states in long-term contracts for low-cost renewable power and large-scale hydropower. The final report says large-scale hydropower purchases would only be used to fill out the state’s renewable portfolio only in the event of a verified shortage of existing renewable supplies.
DEEP was supposed to have issued its final report on the changes to the renewable energy portfolio at the beginning of this year. But even without the final report in hand, state lawmakers crafted S.B. 1138, energy legislation that includes the large scale hydropower provision.
Debate on S.B. 1138 was to have taken place earlier this week but was postponed after news that Esty had given a briefing on the state’s energy policy to UBS Securities, an investment bank that had upgraded the stock rating of Hartford-based Northeast Utilities on April 17th. Groups opposed to Esty’s plan have argued it was in appropriate for him to have given the briefing and said that his plan benefits NU.
The Senate debate is now scheduled for Wednesday.
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