Comments By Melissa Everett, Ph.D. CT Energy and Sustainability Program Manager

DEEP Logo“We have to get methane under control immediately,” said Cornell scientist Dr. Robert Howarth and colleagues. Their publication generated over 1,500 news stories and commentaries, earning them a nomination to Time Magazine’s People of the Year list. That was in 2011.

Over the last four years, Connecticut’s greenhouse gas emissions have actually gone up, according to a recent report by the Acadia Center. While some fluctuation is consistent with an overall downward trend, this 4-year pattern is not a good sign. We seem to be caught in a painful disconnect -- between what we know is urgent as well as important, sharply reducing carbon emissions, and what we have fully figured out how to accomplish.

 Connecticut’s Department of Energy and Environmental Protection is preparing its triennial Comprehensive Energy Strategy, the document that guides state policy and programs. Three years ago, the last CES was published calling for primary reliance on nuclear power, imported hydroelectric power from Quebec, and natural gas – the latter as a short-term strategy to reduce the use of coal and oil to make electricity.

In June 2016, a public scoping session was held in which DEEP staff presented initial plans and a set of guiding values and principles for feedback. There was much to appreciate in their ideas. But in light of the clearer and clearer need to keep most fossil fuel in the ground and accelerate the scaling up of clean renewable energy, we suggest one more guiding principle for the Comprehensive Energy Strategy: adaptiveness.

A strategy is not a menu; it’s a source of guidance to advance toward your goals. How could Connecticut’s Comprehensive Energy Strategy become a driver for continuous improvement and invention of new approaches that keep it current through its three years?

Instead of assuming dependency on nuclear generation at the current scale, can we build aggressively toward replacement capacity by developing guidelines and incentives for off-shore wind?

Instead of assuming a fixed amount of imported hydro, can we create a mechanism whereby we can reduce that dependency with scaled up in-state solar?

And when it comes to solar in Connecticut, we have just made it through a legislative session which launched a 6 MW pilot rather than the more ambitious program that many of us hoped for. This was one of the painful examples of tension between aspiration and administrative caution. But now that we have the pilot, can an adaptive CES plan forward so that we capture data from it in real time and build toward shared understanding of stake-holders, so that we can begin to design the full-scale program without waiting two years?

Climate change is not the only complex, fast-paced phenomenon we’re dealing with. The energy economy is transforming itself at an unprecedented pace. Jeremy Leggett, author of The Winning of the Carbon War, notes that even Saudi Arabia has developed a renewable energy strategy. As we engage with state energy planning and the parallel work of the Governor’s Council on Climate Change, let’s consider that it may no longer be cautious to move slowly. The habit of accommodating the past – rather than pushing forward into a very different future -- may be our greatest source of risk



Community Updates


Woodstock is currently in the process of installing their 1MW solar array.  The array will be a brownfield installation covering, what once was, their former landfill.  Concrete ballasts will weigh down the panel's framework to prevent any breach of the landfill's membrane... See Press Release


In the recent approval of the 2016-18 Conservation and Load Management (CL&M) Plan by the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (DEEP), there is good news and not-so-good news... Read More



Calendar Highlights


HIGHLIGHTS OF CT’s FALL GATHERING of clean energy task forces can be found here in our Knowledge Center’s Program Archives pages. Diane Duva (the Director of Energy Demand at DEEP’s Bureau of Energy and Technology Policy is pictured here) facilitating the shaping of our state’s energy future.

Click to view

Clean Energy Communities Listening Session Letter of Thanks and Follow-up

Click to view