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Climate Change Bill Sails Through State Senate

Researchers collect data in a melted ice pack of the Arctic Ocean while studying Arctic melt and other aspects of climate change.
Researchers collect data in a melted ice pack of the Arctic Ocean while studying Arctic melt and other aspects of climate change. Photo Credit: Wikimedia Commons

The state Senate approved a climate change bill on Wednesday, May 9 that adopts new greenhouse gas reduction standards and places new restrictions on coastal development due to rising sea levels.

"Climate change is real, it’s man-made, and it’s here," said Gov. Dannel P. Malloy, a proponent of the legislation.

"We see the effects everywhere,” Malloy said. “Right here in Connecticut, sea levels are expected to rise by nearly two feet over the next 30 years, causing great harm to our coastal communities."

The bill, passed by a 34-2 vote, adopts the Governor’s Council on Climate Change interim Greenhouse gas emissions target of 45 percent below 2001 levels by 2030 and now heads to the House for consideration.

But, according to Malloy's critics, the legislation reduces state support for solar and alternative energy projects.

In a a joint statement from a coalition of 18 solar companies and environmental advocates, they complained about  “net-metering,” under which Connecticut solar owners have been paid the retail electric rate for the power they sell back to the power grid.

Connecticut’s shift in its policy will make it among the first in the country.

“It is regretful that the Senate voted to terminate one of the most successful solar energy policies in the nation, net-metering. States like Nevada that hastily ended net metering lost thousands of solar jobs and have since reinstated productive policy for distributed generation. Connecticut must not repeat their mistakes,” the coalition’s statement said. “Rather than building Connecticut’s local clean-energy economy, the current bill language puts the future of solar in Connecticut and thousands of jobs at risk.”

In fact both the environmental advocacy community and members of the solar industry were split on whether the legislation should be defeated because of the net-metering component.

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