Murtha Means More

2013 Summary of Connecticut Legislation

August 5, 2013

The Connecticut General Assembly concluded the 2013 legislative session on Wednesday, June 5th. Among the more than 325 public acts signed into law by the governor are various new acts affecting state energy and environmental laws and regulations.

Energy

An Act Concerning Implementation of Connecticut’s Comprehensive Energy Strategy and Various Revisions to the Energy Statutes (Public Act 13-298)
This act modifies the roles of the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (DEEP) and the Public Utilities Regulatory Authority (PURA), expands the autonomy of the PURA chairperson, establishes guidelines for all PURA decisions, and transfers certain regulation-making authority from DEEP to PURA. The act also renames PURA directors “utility commissioners.”

The act allows PURA, DEEP, and the Office of Consumer Counsel (OCC) to retain consultants in certain federal proceedings in order to supplement staff expertise. The cost of such consultants will be borne by the companies affected by the decisions of such proceedings, proportional to their revenues, with a preliminary cap at $2.5 million per calendar year. The act also provides that the DEEP commissioner shall automatically be a party to each proceeding before PURA and may participate in such proceeding at his discretion.

Power Procurement. The act transfers from DEEP to PURA the responsibilities attendant to the power procurement plan established by PURA’s procurement manager to reduce the average cost of standard service while maintaining standard service cost volatility within reasonable levels. The act also details the procedure for PURA to approve the state of Connecticut’s Integrated Resources Plan (IRP). Reasonable costs associated with the development of the procurement plan may be recovered through an assessment. The act also establishes that certain proceedings for the procurement of electricity are uncontested, which will eliminate the possibility of appealing decisions in these cases to court.

Utility Conservation and Other Plans. The act modifies how electric and gas companies develop their conservation plans, now requiring that these companies develop a combined plan every three years, beginning November 1, 2015. The act details what information must be contained in the plan, potentially increases funding for conservation plans, and makes changes to the organization and duties of the Energy Conservation Management Board (ECMB). The act also requires the ECMB and the Clean Energy Finance and Investment Authority (CEFIA) to establish a program to finance residential energy efficiency and renewable energy measures using private capital, with loans repaid on the electric or gas bills of participating customers, and modifies how the comprehensive energy strategy (CES) and IRP are developed and approved.

Gas System Expansion. The act requires gas companies to submit a joint natural gas infrastructure expansion plan to DEEP and PURA consistent with the CES. The act authorizes different cost recovery methods, including a 25-year payback period to determine recoverable expenditures.

On-Bill Financing. The act authorizes on-bill financing for residential energy efficiency and renewable energy measures using private capital. This provision would help finance the installation and upgrade of new technologies.

Pilot Programs. The act requires the CEFIA and ECMB to establish a pilot program to convert customers in at least four municipalities from oil to natural gas within the next year. The act also requires DEEP to establish a pilot program to promote large combined heat and power (cogeneration) systems by limiting the demand charge electric companies impose.

Other Provisions. Other provisions in the act: (1) restrict how PURA can decouple an electric or gas company’s rates from its sales; (2) modify eligibility for a Department of Economic and Community Development low interest energy efficiency loan, making loans more accessible; (3) eliminate the $99 cap on fees in the Home Energy Solutions audit program and the annual $500,000 cap on the subsidy for audits for customers who do not heat with electricity or gas; (4) (a) broaden eligibility for “virtual net metering,” which provides a billing credit for customers who generate electricity using certain renewable resources, (b) expand the maximum size of the generating unit that can take advantage of virtual net metering, and (c) potentially increase the value of the electric bill credit that participating customers receive; (5) broaden the circumstances where electric submeters can be installed; (6) authorize municipal, state, or federal governmental distribution of certain electricity across a public highway or street if it is connected to a municipal microgrid; (7) modify Connecticut’s C-PACE (commercial property assessed clean energy) program by authorizing the filing of a lien upon improvements made under its financing arrangements; (8) reduce the maximum sulfur content of heating oil; (9) require PURA to study the financial capacity and system viability of small community water companies; (10) expand the ability of electric and telecommunication companies to trim trees and other vegetation near their lines; and (11) specify conditions when telecommunications towers can be sited on water company lands. The act incorporates some provisions from Senate Bill 839, Senate Bill 1037, and House Bill 5591.

Affected Statutes: Conn. Gen. Stat. §§ 16-1, 16-2, 16-2c, 16-3, 16-6b, 16-7, 16-18a, 16-19e, 16-19tt, 16-35, 16-244c, 16-244m, 16-32f, 16-245m, 16-245ee, 16-245hh, 16a-3, 16a-3a, 16a-3b, 16a-3c, 16a-3d, 16a-3e, 16a-7b, 16a-23t, 16-37u, 16a-38l, 16a-40b, 16a-40l, 16a-46h, 16a-48, 2c-2h, 16-243y, 16-244u, 16-19ff, 16-41, 32-80a, 16a-40g, 16-50kk, 29-252, 16a-21a, 13-78, 16-19oo, 16-19kk, 16-245aa, 16-234, 16-50p, 25-32, 16-245p, 16-19f, 42-133bb, 16-243p, 16a-41i
Signed by Governor: July 8, 2013

An Act Concerning Connecticut’s Clean Energy Goals (Public Act 13-303)
This act modifies Connecticut’s Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS) by (1) expanding the types of resources that potentially qualify as favored Class I resources; and (2) reducing the value of Renewable Energy Credits associated with certain biomass facilities. For example, the act adds anaerobic digestion (from Senate Bill 6535), thermal electric direct energy conversion, and certain hydroelectric generation facilities to Class I status. On the other hand, the act excludes certain sources that were previously eligible for Class I status, such as construction and demolition waste and finished products from sawmills. The act also authorizes DEEP to solicit energy proposals for renewable projects to save ratepayers money.

The act allows certain Class I requirements to be satisfied by long-term contracts, primarily expected to be filled by larger Canadian hydroelectric projects that are not generally eligible for Class I status. The act allows up to five percent of the state’s Class I RPS to be satisfied by this large-scale hydropower by 2020, characterized by some as rolling back from Connecticut’s commitment to renewable energy.

Wholesale suppliers of electricity must pay electric distribution companies a surcharge if they fail to meet Connecticut’s renewable portfolio standards. By law, electric distribution companies turn over those payments to the Clean Energy Fund within CEFIA for the development of Class I renewable energy sources. The act refunds those payments to ratepayers in order to offset costs, effective June 5, 2013. In fiscal year 2013, the Clean Energy Fund received $215,000 in compliance payments for 2009 noncompliance of electric companies. The act may result in short term savings for ratepayers, including the state and municipalities.

Affected Statutes: Conn. Gen. Stat. §§ 16-1(a), 16-245, 16-245a, 16-244c
Effective Date: June 5, 2013

An Act Concerning the Commercial Property Assessed Clean Energy Program (Public Act 13-116)
This act amends Connecticut’s C-PACE program, which allows owners of qualifying commercial property in participating municipalities to finance energy improvements. Qualifying commercial real property owners may now finance “solar thermal or geothermal” and “district heating and cooling” systems with C-PACE program subsidies.

District heating and cooling systems promote clean energy goals by networking hot water, chilled water, or steam from central locations to multiple buildings, often eliminating the need for on-site boilers, furnaces, and air conditioners. Connecticut’s statewide association of towns and cities supported this act. The City of Bridgeport is currently the subject of a feasibility study, financed by the CEFIA, for a district heating loop that would qualify under this act. Public Act 13-298 also made changes to the C-PACE program, as discussed above.

Affected Statute: Conn. Gen. Stat. § 16a-40g
Signed by Governor: June 6, 2013
Effective Date: June 6, 2013

An Act Concerning Administrative Streamlining at the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (Public Act 13-205)
The substantive provisions of the act expand the scope of the law governing radiation and radioactive material, allowing the DEEP commissioner to: (1) issue, modify, or revoke orders to correct violations of these laws, specifying the notice, hearing and appeal requirements; and (2) issue cease and desist orders and suspend registrations. The act permits the commissioner to seek an injunction in the Superior Court of New Britain to enjoin the act of any person who has engaged in or is about to engage in an act that violates chapter 446a. The act also establishes steep fines and authorizes imprisonment for any person who violates chapter 446a with criminal negligence or who knowingly makes false statements, representations, or certifications in any documents filed for or maintained pursuant to chapter 446a.

Administrative changes to the act include: (1) allowing the DEEP commissioner to provide public notice concerning tentative determination on a permit on the DEEP website instead of by newspaper publication; (2) allowing, instead of requiring, the commissioner to establish stream channel encroachment lines; and (3) relaxing the commissioner’s reporting requirements with respect to emissions inspection programs, contaminated wells, and leaking underground storage tank inventory. The act repeals the Mid-Atlantic States Air Pollution Control Compact, which had never been implemented.

Affected Statutes: Conn. Gen. Stat. §§ 22a-342, 22a-6, 22a-155, 22a-157, 14-164h, 22a-134q, 51-344a, 22a-9, 22a-2d, 22a-344, 22a-156, 22a-166, 22a-167
Signed by Governor: June 21, 2013
Effective Date: October 1, 2013

An Act Concerning the Public Utilities Regulatory Authority, Whistleblower Protection, the Purchased Gas Adjustment Clause, Electric Supplier Disclosure Requirements, and Minor and Technical Changes to the Utility Statutes (Public Act 13-119)
The act contains various disclosure requirements for electric suppliers, aggregators, and their agents. Specifically, the act requires electric suppliers to notify residential customers of rate changes 30 to 60 days before their fixed rate term expires. The act also requires electric suppliers to conspicuously disclose, in at least ten-point font size, when an advertised price will expire, effective January 1, 2014. This provision addresses the many complaints received by the Connecticut Attorney General about misleading “teaser” rates offered by electric suppliers that expire within weeks and are replaced with higher, variable rates. This provision comes from House Bill 6470, drafted by the OCC as part of its legislative package.

Effective October 1, 2013, suppliers offering power generated from renewable energy sources now may only advertise those renewable energy credits purchased beyond Class III renewable portfolio standards. Electric suppliers that offer renewable energy services that achieve compliance other than by purchasing credits must disclose the renewable energy content of their products or services and substantiate the claims of the content on their websites.

The act also transfers certain regulatory powers from the DEEP to PURA, including the power to: (1) issue regulations on how to notify customers when an electric supplier defaults; (2) issue regulations on the standard billing format, direct customer billing, and collection services for electric suppliers; (3) determine what storms and scheduled outages are not included in electric company reliability reports; and (3) prepare an annual report on electric supplier licenses. The act extends: (1) the deadline for PURA to report on its study of supplier direct billing to October 1, 2013; and (2) the amount of time for PURA to make a preliminary finding on the veracity of a whistleblower’s complaint from 30 to 90 days.

Affected Statutes: Conn. Gen. Stat. §§ 16-8, 16-8a, 16-19, 16-19b, 16-49, 16-244c, 16-245d, 16-245o, 16-245y, 16-262j
Signed by Governor: June 18, 2013

An Act Concerning Property Tax Exemptions for Renewable Energy Sources (Public Act 13-61)
This act exempts from property tax certain renewable energy sources installed on or after January 1, 2014. The exempt property must: (1) be for energy generation or displacement for commercial or industrial purposes; (2) not produce more energy than the location will need; and (3) be a (a) Class I renewable energy source, (b) Class II renewable hydropower facility, or (c) solar thermal or geothermal renewable energy source.

The act automatically exempts these properties located in New Haven, beginning this taxable year, for installations that occurred on or after January 1, 2010. The act also allows other municipalities to abate the property taxes for renewable energy sources installed on or after January 1, 2010, but only upon approval by the municipality’s legislative body or board of selectmen. Applicants must follow existing procedures to claim the credits.

Affected Statute: Conn. Gen. Stat. § 12-81(57)
Signed by Governor: June 3, 2013
Effective Date: June 3, 2013

Water

An Act Concerning Water Infrastructure and Conservation, Municipal Reporting Requirements and Unpaid Utility Accounts at Multi-Family Dwellings (Public Act 13-78)
This act promotes water conservation by requiring PURA to consider, when setting rates for water companies, factors that promote water conservation in both the short- and long-term. Effective June 5, 2013, a water company filing a general rate case must include a report of the changes in water demands and measures the company has taken to promote water conservation. The act also eliminates duplicative and burdensome reporting requirements of the Office of Policy and Management and municipal utility companies.

The act closes a technical loophole regarding collection procedures applicable to a multi-family residential building where the building’s owner was responsible for the utility bill. Now, when a building owner defaults under these circumstances, in addition to requesting that the court appoint a receiver to collect the building’s rents to pay the ongoing utility bills, the utility may also pursue post-judgment remedies directly against the owner. Other portions of the act raise the allowed rates a water company may charge by increasing the maximum water infrastructure and conservation adjustment (WICA), expanding the list of WICA-eligible projects, and allowing a water company voluntarily acquiring an economically non-viable water company to add a rate surcharge in order to receive a reasonable acquisition premium. The act also authorizes a revenue adjustment mechanism that allows utilities to recapture lost revenues from declining use outside of a general rate filing.

Affected Statutes: Conn. Gen. Stat. §§ 7-239, 16-29, 16-262v, 16-262w, 16-262s, 16-262e, 16-262f, 16-262t, 22a-2d, 25-33p
Signed by Governor: June 5, 2013
Effective Date: June 5, 2013

Consumer Protection

An Act Prohibiting Price Gouging During Severe Weather Events (Public Act 13-175)
This act prohibits price gouging of consumer goods and services during severe weather events, including prices for lodging, snow removal, flood abatement, and post-storm cleanup or repair services. Notably, the act exempts energy resources such as gasoline, propane, natural gas, electricity, coal, and any other resource yielding energy under Connecticut General Statutes section 42-234(a)(1) from its provisions.
Upon the Governor’s declaring the existence of a severe weather event emergency, no seller of consumer goods or services may charge an “unconscionably excessive” price for such goods or services, based on an evaluation of enumerated factors. A seller may rebut a prima facie case of price gouging with evidence that additional costs not within the control of the seller were imposed on the seller for such goods and services.

A violation of this act constitutes a violation of the Connecticut Unfair Trade Practices Act (CUTPA), under which punitive damages and equitable relief may be awarded. Connecticut Attorney General Jepsen supported the act, calling it “an important tool to deter unscrupulous businesses from charging unconscionably high prices during such times.”

Signed by Governor: June 21, 2013
Effective Date: June 21, 2013

An Act Making Minor and Technical Changes to Department of Consumer Protection Statutes (Public Act 13-196)
This act makes various changes in the Department of Consumer Protection (DCP) statutes. The changes to DCP statutes: (1) allow posting regulations and rosters online to fulfill certain publishing and distribution requirements; (2) allow permit and license applicants with lapsed licenses to apply for reinstatement to the appropriate DCP board; (3) extend certain consumer protections to buying clubs that offer services; (4) impose home improvement contractor penalties on people who propose or offer to do work without a certificate; (5) make condominium associations eligible for Home Improvement Guaranty Fund payouts; (6) provide a longer cancellation period for social referral contracts and add contractor notification requirements; and (7) require drug wholesalers to obtain a separate certificate of registration or license for each location.

Affected Statutes: Conn. Gen. Stat. §§ 20-654, 20-329a through 20-329n, 12-575, 12-563, 20-512, 20-432, 20-432, 20-419, 20-419, 20-417b, 20-377p, 20-355, 20-349, 20-335, 20-334a, 20-332, 20-314, 42-321, 42-310, 21a-246, 21a-190b, 7-173, 25-129, 21a-70, 21-33b, 21a-4, 30-7, 43-3
Signed by Governor: June 21, 2013
Effective Date: June 21, 2013

Budget Bill Fund Transfers

An Act Concerning Expenditures and Revenue for the Biennium Ending June 30, 2015 (Public Act 13-184)
This act transfers: (1) $3.4 million from the public, educational and governmental programming and educational technology investment account (PEGPETIA) to the General Fund for fiscal year 2014; (2) another $3.5 million from PEGPETIA to the General Fund for fiscal year 2015; (3) $35 million from the Connecticut Resource Recovery Authority to the General Fund for fiscal year 2014; (4) $5 million from the Regional Greenhouse Gas account to the General Fund for fiscal year 2015; (5) $6.2 million from CEFIA to the General Fund for fiscal year 2014; and (6) $24.2 million from CEFIA to the General Fund for fiscal year 2015. The act ceases deposits into the municipal video competition trust account during the fiscal years of 2014 and 2015. The act also extends the electric generation tax imposed by section 12-268s into fiscal year 2014, which is expected to yield $17.5 million in revenue for the General Fund. The electric generation tax would have terminated at the end of fiscal year 2013.

The act transfers $1 million of the systems benefit charge collected under section 16-245l to DEEP for energy assistance for fiscal years 2014 and 2015, earmarking $100,000 to provide a grant to Operation Fuel, Incorporated for operating expenses incurred for administering the energy assistance for those fiscal years.

Signed by Governor: June 18, 2013
Effective Date: July 1, 2013

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