In several states these days, there are ample programs and incentives for both consumers and businesses to “go solar.” This is a great trend for both the environment and the economy. But in Connecticut, there seems to be a different set of rules and attitudes. When it comes to the contractors, installers, and lawmakers who help municipalities update and modernize their infrastructure to take advantage of all the opportunities going solar offers, this is especially true.
In Connecticut, going solar is a tricky business. The regulatory and financial environment to do so is highly restrictive, which artificially injects a lot of risk. Many of the approved projects and financing are hidden behind a shroud of non-transparency. The apparent result is that only a small handful of solar providers are ever awarded municipal contracts, which can easily be described as a bit of an insider scheme.
There is a distinct opportunity to shine a light onto Connecticut’s municipal solar policies, exposing the practices that seem to create a less-than-free-market approach to awarding contracts. By bringing transparency to the procedures that dictate municipal solar funding and contracting, taxpayers will have better access to more efficient energy throughout the state and they’ll know where their tax dollars are actually heading.
The municipal solar market in Connecticut could get the adrenaline injection it deserves, with the help of three simple recommendations:
- Create conditions that bifurcate between municipal and private funding/contracts
- Open up more opportunities annually for permits and contracts to be secured across the state
- Require the same transparency that’s applied to where solar equipment is manufactured, to where solar funding is coming from
With these minor updates and upgrades to the state’s solar policies and procedures, everyone wins. The municipalities get access to more quality solar installers at competitive pricing, taxpayers have a better understanding of where their dollars are going, and solar contractors and installers get an opportunity to win business in a much more equitable environment.
In fact, back on January 27th, 64Solar sat down with the head of the legislative team at the Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (DEEP) regarding their new language surrounding the state’s renewable energy credits. Our intent is to make sure that the new language does not adversely impact the Connecticut businesses that may want to go solar in the future.
On March 15th, in an opinion piece for the CT Post, Arthur H. House, the former chair of the Connecticut Public Utilities Regulatory Authority, stated:
“Connecticut is unique in the country with this unusual structure. No other state requires its utility regulators to report to an agency that is a party before it for the obvious reason that regulators are to render fair and reasonable decisions based on facts and law and not be influenced by a party appearing before them.”
He continues on to detail other aspects of Connecticut’s regulatory policies that, in his opinion and ours, are eroding its integrity.
Here at 64Solar, we have a vested interest in our community to expose and illuminate the issues—and potential scheme—surrounding this sector of the energy business in Connecticut.