Chinese restaurant menu of options for a 21st century world without gasoine powered transport...emergency power source!

Mini E concept | LA Auto Show
Coming Soon, Mini’s Electric Kool Aid Test
November 20, 2008

Introduced on Wednesday: Mini E concept.

Is it real? Is Mini, the iconic minicar maker, ready to take the plunge into electric vehicles? Only time, and 500 models set to be released for long-term test drives, will tell.

What they said: “The know-how gained from this project will help us perfect the Mini E’s innovative drive system and speed production of a mega city car,” said Natalie Bauters, a Mini spokeswoman.

What they didn’t say: While General Motors has been plodding along and burning through the dollars developing its Chevrolet Volt “extended-range” electric vehicle (now due in late 2010), Mini, with help from its parent, BMW, took a mere 10 months to develop the Mini E.

What makes it tick? A 150-kilowatt electric motor that produces 204 horsepower, a high-performance lithium-ion battery pack (good for 150 miles on a full charge) and a single-stage helical gearbox that sends the power out to the front wheels. From a standing start, it will hit 60 m.p.h. in about 8.5 seconds; maximum speed is limited to 95 m.p.h. Unfortunately, the battery pack’s size wipes out the two rear seats, making the Mini E a somewhat impractical two-seater.

How much, how soon? Not available in any store. But the Mini E will start appearing on a street near you (if you live in the Los Angeles or New York City metro areas) early next year. You can sign up on a special Web site (http://www.minispace.com/en_us/projects/electric-mini-e/) for a place in line, to be considered to lease one of the 500 test vehicles for a year. Warning: some 9,500 people have already signed up, the company says. But don’t despair, the field could be winnowed down considerably by the monthly lease fee of $850.

How’s it look? Like good green fun, in a convenient to-go size container.

Prius: It’s Not Just a Car, It’s an Emergency Generator
By Kate Galbraith

December 23, 2008, 9:58 am

The Prius has a new use, and it does not involve driving. The Harvard Press — which serves the Massachusetts town of Harvard as opposed to the university — reported that the car’s battery helped keep the lights on for some locals during the recent ice storms.

The newspaper reports that John Sweeney, a resident who lost power, “ran his refrigerator, freezer, TV, woodstove fan, and several lights through his Prius, for three days, on roughly five gallons of gas.”

Said Mr. Sweeney, in an e-mail message to The Press: “When it looked like we were going to be without power for awhile, I dug out an inverter (which takes 12v DC and creates 120v AC from it) and wired it into our Prius.”

According to the newspaper, “the device allowed the engine to run every half hour, automatically charging the car battery and indirectly supplying the required power.”

In fact, this development, which comes at a tough time for Toyota, which makes the Prius, may not be not as strange as it sounds. Mr. Sweeney’s tinkering is along the lines of the “smart grid” technology that many utility executives and other experts say lies in our future. The idea is that the battery of an electric car — a plug-in, in most smart-grid scenarios — can feed power to the electricity grid when the grid needs it.

Even President-elect Barack Obama has endorsed this idea, as seen toward the end of this YouTube clip in which he said: “We’re going to have to have a smart grid if we want to use plug-in hybrids — then we want to be able to have ordinary consumers sell back the electricity that’s generated.”

Mr. Sweeney, out of necessity, got there first.

Electric car can work if you are able to recharge the batteries.

Renault to Develop Electric Cars For Israel
Published: January 21, 2008
Filed at 1:00 p.m. ET

JERUSALEM (Reuters) - The Renault-Nissan <RENA.PA> <7201.T> alliance on Monday signed a deal to begin mass producing electric cars as part of an Israeli-led project to develop alternative energy sources and slash oil dependency.

Renault-Nissan Chief Executive Carlos Ghosn said the cars, with a range of about 100 km in city driving and up to 160 km on the highway, will accelerate from zero to 100 kph in 13 seconds and have a top speed of 110 kph -- similar to many gasoline-powered cars.

Ghosn said a key reason why the company chose Israel to launch the project is because 90 percent of Israelis drive less than 70 km a day and all major urban centers are within 150 km of each other. For Israel the cars would mean less dependency on oil imports, mostly coming from Russia.

The cars, to be made in Europe, will run on a battery developed by Nissan and Japan's NEC <6701.T> and will be available in 2011. A prototype is already on the road in Israel and various models will be sold by Renault and Nissan.

"It will be the most environmentally friendly mass-produced car on the market," Ghosn said at a Fuel Free Transportation ceremony at the office of Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, adding the main appeal of the cars is that they were as "normal as possible" while operating quietly.

He said the car would cost the same or less than comparable gasoline engine autos and would have a lifetime warranty.

Ghosn said Renault-Nissan will also market the cars in yet to be determined European countries and Asia and later to the United States.

"We expect this car to be successful," Ghosn told reporters. "We want to make sure we mass market 10,000 to 20,000 cars a year in Israel ... We are determined to make it a success."


Israel's government will offer tax incentives on the cars and Project Better Place, a venture-backed company, will set up a recharging grid using electricity from renewable sources.

"The state of Israel has set itself the goal of making our lives here better and cleaner, with less dependence on gasoline and petroleum," Olmert said. "By the end of the next decade, we will be completely free of petroleum and its by-products as the fuel which powers transportation in Israel."

Project Better Place is headed by former SAP <SAPG.DE> executive Shai Agassi, who said Israel's grid would be powered by 200 megawatts generated by wind and solar power sources.

"For the first time in history, all the conditions necessary for electric vehicles to be successfully mass-marketed will be brought together in a partnership between the Renault-Nissan Alliance and Project Better Place in Israel," the two sides said in a statement.

Consumers will buy their car and subscribe to an energy supply, including the use of the battery, on the basis of kilometers driven, similar to the way mobile phones are sold.

Israeli President Shimon Peres said he wanted Israel to push forward with the electric car plan because oil has become the "greatest polluter of our age and the greatest financier of terrorism."

California-based Project Better Place said it will set up a network of 500,000 charging points in Israel. The car's computer will indicate when recharging is needed and the nearest charging point.

The initial $200 million investment in Project Better Place is led by holding company Israel Corp <ILCO.TA> and includes investment bank Morgan Stanley <MS.N>, venture capital firm Vantage Point and a group of private investors.

Israel Corp, which will invest $100 million, said it had signed agreements with the other investors. The Ofer family, which controls Israel Corp, will invest $30 million through a private firm while the other investors will put in $70 million.


Lawsuit over electric bill fee could challenge state budget
By SUSAN HAIGH Associated Press
Article published Mar 28, 2011

Hartford - A state senator's legal challenge of a little-known fee on many Connecticut electric bills could create yet another massive hole in the state's already deficit-plagued budget, should the tea party-backed lawmaker win in court.

Sen. Joe Markley, a Republican from Southington, said he believes the General Assembly and former Gov. M. Jodi Rell deceived taxpayers when they decided to borrow up to $1.3 billion last year to help balance the budget. To pay off the bonds, officials extended a fee that customers of Connecticut Light & Power and United Illuminating have been paying to reimburse the utilities for their expenses following electric deregulation in 1998.

Once those expenses are paid off, the fee would remain on customers' bills but the money would go to the state.

"This thing was hastily done and was an attempt to do it kind of in a way that nobody would notice it," said Markley.

He estimates the fee amounts to about $100 a year for the average family, but it's in the thousands of dollars for businesses and municipalities.

His case has reached the state Supreme Court, which is expected to decide if it can move forward. The state, meanwhile, has sought an expedited ruling because State Treasurer Denise Nappier has yet to issue the bonds to cover the deficit in the current fiscal year, waiting for Markley's lawsuit to be decided. Such pending litigation would have to be disclosed in an official statement, a snapshot of Connecticut's financial health, to potential investors.

The treasurer needs to market and close on the bonds before June 30, the end of the current fiscal year.

Gov. Dannel P. Malloy said he realizes that if Markley wins, or if the case is sent to state superior court for a potentially lengthy review and appeals, it adds to the fiscal problems he's been elected to fix. It's estimated to create a $647 million hole - possibly less - in this year's $19.2 billion budget, given the cost-savings efforts and improved revenue collections.

"For a guy who has got a $3.3 billion (deficit) in next year's (budget), $647 (million) in this year's would be a concern, I can assure you," Malloy said Friday. "I am well aware of it."

Malloy said he has not been personally involved in coming up with a contingency plan for covering the $647 million. However, he said if the courts rule in Markley's favor, determining the fee is illegal, Malloy said his administration would have to go to the General Assembly and ask lawmakers to "repackage that approach." He did not provide further details, but acknowledged it would likely involve some other form of borrowing.

Malloy has been a vocal opponent of borrowing money to cover operating expenses.

"I think the fee was fair. I think it was misguided. It's not a public policy I would have otherwise promoted or supported," he said. "If you're asking do I believe it to be legal? The answer is yes."

In a court document, Sarah Sanders, the assistant treasurer for the debt management division, said if the financing is not completed and the legislature does not take any action to cover the deficit, the state might have to use economic recovery notes to make up the shortfall. ERNs are repaid from the state's general fund and "would create additional credit and budgetary issues and may result in higher financing costs due to the lower credit rating on these types of notes."

Markley said he isn't bothered by the possibility he could be making the state's current budget challenges more difficult. In the long run, he argues, his actions will help Connecticut.

"I feel about it like I would watching a friend, who had been drinking all evening, go back to the ATM one more time to take more money out of the bank," he said. "Yes, you might think this is a good idea right now, but when you wake up in the morning, you're going to wish you hadn't taken out any more money."

Report: Ind. Electricity Rates May Rise 12 Percent

January 5, 2010 Filed at 11:41 a.m. ET

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. (AP) -- A state-funded research group is predicting that Indiana's electricity rates could rise 12 percent over the next four years.

The Purdue University-based State Utility Forecasting Group released a report last week that looked at the state's energy needs between now and 2027.

Its findings include the prediction that Indiana's overall electricity rates could rise 12 percent by 2013 due to more stringent environmental guidelines.

However, the report does not take into account the impact of federal controls on carbon dioxide emissions that Congress is considering.

Such controls could drive electricity rates even higher in Indiana because the state gets about 95 percent of its power from coal-fired power plants that release large amounts of carbon dioxide.

Facing Economic Turmoil, Fairfield County Seeks Resilience
Westport NEWS
By Gary Jeanfaivre
Article Launched: 09/14/2007 10:17:56 AM EDT

STAMFORD -- Traffic poses a problem to Fairfield County, both for the economy and general quality of life issues including the environment and personal time spent with family or otherwise. The ill effects can throw a whole day off.

As an example, The Fairfield County Economic Conference, held last Friday at the University of Connecticut's Stamford campus, was forced to start nearly a half-hour late because a number of people were stuck in traffic on the infamous stretch of Interstate 95.

Traffic has become so bad that, along with a reputation for beautiful coastal communities and pristine wooded areas divided by stonewalls and rivers, as well as a bubbly melting pot of social and cultural offerings, Fairfield County is equally known as traffic alley.

"Congestion adds to the cost of doing business," said Joan McDonald, commissioner of the Connecticut Department of Economic and Community Development (DECD). "It's something we have to grapple with."

Yet traffic is only one of many challenges facing the county, and in turn, the state economy.

According to the Connecticut Business and Industry Association's Blum Shapiro survey, released a day before the conference, Connecticut's companies see the overall cost of conducting business in the state as the greatest challenge before them. And for the fourth straight year, the rising cost of healthcare benefits was ranked the top cost concern among respondents to the survey.

Other significant cost concerns include payroll (26 percent), energy (11 percent) and workers' compensation (9 percent).

It is no surprise, too, seeing as Connecticut is among the most taxed states in the nation, that taxes are also a major concern for businesses, with executives surveyed stating that they don't see enough value in the money paid to the government.

The cover illustration of the Fall 2007 issue of The Connecticut Economy, a University of Connecticut quarterly review, features a stack of three hardback books floating on an all-white background with bindings reading: Housing, Traffic, Immigration. Stated below the books: "Hot Titles for Fall: Traffic Nightmares, Housing Pangs, Immigration Angst."

National and international impacts -- from the U.S. Labor Department's report of a loss of 4,000 jobs in the month of August to an all-time high number of foreclosures, on to unrest in countries controlling key markets and massive toy and food recalls -- are also felt in the county.

Delos R. Smith, a principal of Delos Smith & Associates, focused on foreclosures and oil prices during his remarks, drawing laughter from the 75 to 100 business people in attendance when he said the only qualification mortgage lenders had when approving home loans was "their ability to breathe."

Of particular importance, the panel of economists said, is that there is still a massive amount of unannounced debt, accumulated by hedge funds and other financial market risk-takers that bought the bundled debt of foreclosures from mortgage companies as an investment. The losses are likely to be felt in the county.

"We can have issues here even if the nation doesn't," said Rae Rosen, senior economist and assistant vice president of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York.

While there may be no shortage of challenges ahead, spirits are still high and state and county businesses are poised for future prosperity.  Most Connecticut companies were profitable in 2006 and are optimistic about their prospects for 2007, the Blum Shapiro survey found.

Aerospace, chemical and metal manufacturing sectors are "bright spots" in the state and county economies, experts said, citing the importance of fostering entrepreneurship to supply two of the state's key companies, Pfizer and Sikorsky.

Companies are also reinvesting profits, hiring new employees and actively seeking savings, with 75 percent of respondents to the Blum Shapiro survey undertaking steps to reduce energy use -- through the replacement of older light bulbs and HVAC systems with new, energy-efficient ones -- up from 50 percent two years ago.

"It's possible to be pro-environment and pro-business," McDonald said.

On hand to discuss the critical role that energy plays in today's high tech world was Raymond P. Necci, president and chief operating officer of Connecticut Light & Power Co.

"Electricity powers this state's economy," Necci said. "Unreliable is unacceptable."

And so the utility giant is investing heavily in upgrading the distribution system in the county, funded in large part by rate increases to customers, who can expect an additional $5 to $7 tacked on to monthly bills. Necci cited the power upgrade from Bethel to Norwalk as one example of a critical improvement.

And he said that surveys have shown that reliability is more important to businesses than price, and that investment in distribution should remove some federal congestion charges from customers' electricity bills.

Necci said it's easy for folks to oppose a rate increase, yet he feels the case for investment and rate increases is compelling. "There's really no other alternative," he added.

A graph showing the energy investment's correlation to jobs and economic growth revealed a somewhat negative impact initially followed by long-term prosperity.

Charting the path forward, many economists view collaboration between business and state universities and colleges as a key component to creating a qualified workforce to replace the retiring baby boomer generation. It was no coincidence, then, that the conference was held below "edgelab," a unique graduate program where students work with General Electric professionals and professors on real business projects.

Highlighting the successes of edgelab were Christopher Kalish, GE director and chief technology officer of edgelab, and James R. Marsden, head of the Department of Operations and Information Management at UConn and the director of edgelab.

Traffic, Housing and Immigration

"Traffic is a consequence of economic growth," said Steven P. Lanza, executive editor of The Connecticut Economy.

Posing a question of whether the effects of traffic are such that it places a "chokehold" on the economy, Lanza answered, "The evidence doesn't seem to suggest that."

Nonetheless, one way to deal with traffic is to work from home, and more and more businesses are offering employees the opportunity to do so, thanks to technology and a potential cost savings that is beginning to be documented.

The phenomenon is called telecommuting, and approximately 9 percent of employees in the state are participating. In the last five years alone, there has been an 86 percent increase in telecommuters in the state, which is the equivalent of taking 60,000 cars off the road, according to telecommutect.com.

Yet people can't work from home in Fairfield County if they can't afford one. Despite a fairly cold national real estate market, housing prices remain high in the county. In terms of median housing costs, Connecticut is ranked the eighth highest in the nation. That ranking drops to 14, though, when related to income.

Rosen, gesturing to charts displayed on a large screen, said there has been a net out-flow of approximately 51,000 domestic households within the state. "It's that many of our children can't afford to live here," she said.

While many municipalities offer density bonuses to developers that build affordable housing units, creating the much-needed stock is not always easy. Houses may sell for less if property taxes were higher, while property values would likely increase if property taxes are reduced. "It's sort of a tricky business," Lanza said.

Immigration is also a complex business, with a great deal of uncertainty floating about as reform is debated on the national level. The number of illegal immigrants in the U.S. is estimated at 11 million, and given Connecticut's close proximity to New York City, the state certainly has its share.

There has been a recent surge in immigrants to Connecticut, both legally and otherwise. "We're seeing it at historic levels in Connecticut and throughout the nation," Lanza said.

Instead of posing a problem, though, the state's immigrants could be part of the solution to businesses' demand for employees. Lanza said immigrants in Connecticut tend to be better educated than in other parts of the country. "They're coming here to work," Rosen said.

Income inequality was another topic of discussion last Friday. Connecticut currently stands in the middle ground when it comes to income inequality, with a ranking of .48. Zero is perfect equality and 1 is perfect inequality.

Lanza said the inequality was not because the poor people are doing worse, it's because "the rich are doing extremely well."

Looking to the future, Lanza said his best guess is that the economy will slow down through next year, and then begin to pick back up again thereafter.

"All's fair in love, war and economic development," McDonald said of the highly competitive market. "We're never standing still. We can't. If we stand still, we lose."

State Seeking To Expand Electric Supply;  Generator capacity falls behind demand
By Patricia Daddona
Published on 8/29/2006
Connecticut's utilities regulator has drafted a plan to attract homegrown generators of affordable and reliable electricity, but contracts would not be awarded until next fall, months after a shortfall in supplies is expected.

The state Department of Public Utility Control issued its draft decision Friday saying it wants to see a “broad array” of new generators of electricity that make use of a “diverse fuel mix” over the next 15 years, according to agency spokesman David Goldberg. The more long-term “capacity” — that is, routinely reliable energy sources —the state has, the better it can cope with demand, he said.

The state and ISO New England, which manages the wholesale supply of electricity for the region, project the state will be short between 600 and 700 megawatts next year. Yet even if the state's plan to request proposals is approved by Sept. 15, winning bidders would not be announced until March and new contracts would be in limbo until late September 2007.

Goldberg said the plan was developed to bring in new generation as soon as possible, which, given the time it takes to site and build such facilities, is expected to be two or three years from now.

“In 2007, we're going to be short,” he said. “We don't anticipate this RFP (Request for Proposals) will solve the shortfall in '07, but it will start addressing it in '08 and '09. So it's not an immediate fix, but it's a fix that will decrease our federally mandated congestion charges and that's the intent here.”

Federally mandated congestion charges approved earlier this summer by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) are penalties all ratepayers pay for demand that exceeds supply coming from within the state.

Lawmakers called for the bid plan as part of the Energy Independence Act. The draft report says it meets the goals of the state law by seeking the best combination of projects to generate more electricity, without limiting the possibilities.

This bid request, says state Rep. Steve Fontana, D-North Haven, “is a wake-up call,” because Connecticut has already been importing electricity the state should be producing to meet its own growing energy needs. Fontana is co-chairman of the legislature's Energy & Technology Committee.

“The bottom line is that this formalizes and raises the awareness of the challenge we face and that we need to be about the business of coming up with a solution,” said Fontana. “We want Connecticut ratepayers to understand that we didn't get into this problem overnight and we won't get out of it overnight — and that the days of cheap energy are over.”

Successful bidders would provide contracts that increase reliability, charge the “lowest reasonable costs” to the consumer, and minimize the effect of the new FERC charges, according to the draft report. Environmentally friendly technology, energy efficiency and conservation would all give bidders a leg up in winning contracts, Goldberg said.

Conservation measures and so-called “demand response” would also have an “immediate” positive effect on the coming increase in demand, Goldberg said. Demand response is the practice by major users of reducing the amount of electricity they consumer during times of peak demand. ISO New England compensates them for such steps.

Other simple steps that could help conserve energy are for major users to install and fall back on backup generators as needed, Goldberg said.

Where it all began...
Conn. House OKs restricting electricity choice    
Posted on Apr 29, 1:59 PM EDT

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) -- The Connecticut House has passed legislation requiring future residential and small business customers to sign up with one of the state's two major power suppliers.

The amendment passed on a mostly party-line, 103-39 vote, with Democrats in the majority. It now moves to the Senate, where there is strong opposition.

Supporters say the move to restrict electricity choice would reduce rates, but opponents say it's bad public policy and would stifle innovation.

More than 90 percent of residential and business customers now buy power from Northeast Utilities or United Illuminating. Supporters say those customers pay a "risk premium" for allowing a small group to choose small, alternative power companies. They predict rates could drop by five percent.

Electricity Options Fizzle In State
January 18, 2003
By JOHN M. MORAN, And BARBARA NAGY Courant Staff Writers
One of only two alternative suppliers of retail electricity in Connecticut pulled out of the market Friday, and the lone survivor is no longer accepting new customers.  As a result, Connecticut Light & Power and United Illuminating - the two former monopolies - have no competition three years after the state opened its market to new suppliers.

Green Mountain Energy, a Texas corporation supplying "green" power from non-polluting sources, said Friday it was withdrawing from the Connecticut market effective March 31.  Meanwhile, Norwalk-based Levco Tech, the only other competing supplier of electric power in the state,
said it stopped accepting new customers on Jan. 1.  The company is continuing to serve its 21,000 existing customers.

Both companies said Connecticut's standard electric rate - capped by state law - was below current wholesale prices and made it difficult to compete with the former monopoly suppliers.  Less than 1 percent of the state's 1.5 million electric customers have switched to competing suppliers.

State officials called Friday's developments a setback for competition. Just five months ago, another independent supplier, the Connecticut Energy Cooperative, collapsed under a heavy debt load.  The state's rate cap expires at the end of this year, and electric supply is one of the toughest issues facing the legislature this year.

A. Clifton Payne, Green Mountain's eastern region president, said artificially low prices offered by other suppliers, costly new regulations and the lack of a robust market for alternative power sources forced his company to withdraw from the state.  The company's 1,300 customers will be shifted back to Connecticut Light & Power or United Illuminating, depending on where they live.

"It was a very, very difficult decision," Payne said. "Our resources are limited. At least in the short term, we decided our efforts were better directed to states that have a more competitive market."

Green Mountain, one of the nation's largest providers of green power, said it would focus its resources in the Northeast on building its customer bases in New Jersey, New York and Pennsylvania.

Ed Levene, Levco's vice president, said his company stopped accepting customers earlier this month because wholesale rates for power had moved well beyond the prices available to consumers with the state's dominant power utilities, CL&P and UI.  Until competitors can acquire power at prices comparable to what consumers can get with their existing providers, competition is unlikely to develop, Levene said.  Both CL&P and UI locked into lower wholesale prices with long-term contracts.

The withdrawal of Green Mountain and Levco from market competition follows last August's failure of the Connecticut Energy Cooperative, a Hartford-based not-for-profit organization that at the time of its demise was providing electricity to 11,000 customers.

Beryl Lyons, spokeswoman for the state Department of Public Utility Control, said the loss of Green Mountain as an electrical provider highlights the importance of the legislative session, where the status of energy competition is expected to be a hot topic.

"It is absolutely a setback in a market that is not developing at the speed at which we would have liked," Lyons said. "It is an issue that the department will be following as the legislature takes it up in this session."

State Sen. Andrew McDonald, D-Stamford, vice chairman of the legislature's energy and technology committee, said the state needs to re-examine its energy policy in light of market changes that have occurred since the original deregulation bill was passed in 1998.

"Clearly, the energy landscape has changed dramatically over the last year or so," McDonald said. "What would appear to make eminent sense a couple of years ago perhaps has already become antiquated and outdated."

A key point in that debate is likely to be the appropriate level of the so-called standard offer, which is the baseline rate offered to most electric consumers.  Joel Gordes, an energy consultant and former state legislator, said the standard offer is now so low that there is "no incentive for anybody to move to a competitive provider."  Gordes advocates assigning customers to different companies as a way of "jump-starting"  deregulation, evening out the market, and forcing people to make choices.

He doesn't see competition as dead, but rather dormant - depending on what the legislature does this year. An extension of the standard offer could delay competition further, he said.  But if the legislature corrects the standard offer and a few minor problems, competition will resume, Gordes predicted.

According to the U.S. Department of Energy, 24 states and the District of Columbia have taken steps to allow competition. One, California, has suspended competition. Five - Arkansas, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico and Oklahoma - have delayed its launch.

In most states, less than 5 percent of customers have switched to competing suppliers, according to federal data. The rest continue to be served by their former utilities under standard offers similar to Connecticut's, according to the state's Office of Legislative Research.  State Consumer Counsel Mary J. Healey said she regards the development of a competitive energy marketplace in Connecticut as a long-term project.

"It's going to take more than two, three or four years for the electric market to become competitive," Healey said. "We're going to be in transition for some time. ... I would say that we're just getting going."

Proponents of environmentally friendly power sources said they were saddened by the withdrawal of Green Mountain, but that the move strengthened their resolve to continue the push for non-polluting energy sources.

"It's not entirely a big surprise that Green Mountain is leaving," said Brian Keane, executive director of SmartPower Connecticut, a not-for-profit marketing organization aimed at promoting renewable energy. "Clearly, there is more work to be done in regulatory affairs."

Michael Stoddard, director of Environment Northeast's project to boost renewable energy use among corporate and institutional customers, said finding a good opportunity for consumers is a priority.  "I hope it's a wake-up call to policy makers to look at what we can do in this state to make it easier for people to buy green power," he said.

Spokesmen for both Northeast Utilities and United Illuminating said they were sorry to see a competitor leave the state, but were prepared to take on the affected customers to ensure that power supplies continued. 

OLR Research Report 2002-R-0541
By: Kevin E. McCarthy, Principal Analyst
June 10, 2002

You asked for a timeline of electric industry deregulation in Connecticut.


Connecticut adopted legislation in May1998 (PA 98-28) that allowed consumers to choose their electric suppliers. The act required the state's two electric companies and the Department of Public Utility Control (DPUC) to take steps to establish a competitive market. Among other things, the act required the companies to unbundle (separate) their generation components from the rest of their businesses by October 1, 1999. It required them to auction their power plants and other generation assets.

The act required DPUC to begin licensing suppliers by April 1, 1999. It required DPUC to determine the companies' stranded costs, i. e. , costs that it had previously approved for recovery through rates that might not be receoverable after the start of competition. DPUC made its initial determinations in the summer of 1999. The act established, as of January 1, 2000, four charges that are paid by all consumers. It established charges to fund energy conservation and renewable energy initiatives and required DPUC to set charges to ensure recovery of approved stranded costs and to pay for various public policies.

The act allowed consumers in distressed municipalities to choose their electric supplier as of January 1, 2000 and opened most of the rest of the state to competition as of July 1, 2000. It required the companies to provide standard offer service to consumers who do not chose a supplier. It required that the rate for this service be at least 10% below the rates the companies charged on December 31, 1996.

Most of the act's provisions have already been implemented. Under current law, standard offer service ends on December 31, 2003. After that date, utilities must provide default service to consumers who have not chosen a supplier. The law does not specify a rate for this service. A bill considered, but not adopted, this session would have established a pricing method for this service, with separate rules for low-income consumers, other small consumers, and large commercial and industrial consumers.

Under the act, a supplier must obtain part of its power from renewable sources, and the proportion will increase over the next ten years. The charge on electric bills that is used to promote renewable energy will increase on July 1, 2002 and July 1, 2004. The act also includes several sunset provisions.


Unbundling and Divestiture
PA 98-28 opened the state's retail electric industry to competition. (The federal government had previously deregulated the electric wholesale market. ) The act required the companies to unbundle their generation functions from their other functions by October 1, 1999. It required them to auction their power plants and other generation assets. In the case of non-nuclear assets, the auction had to take place by January 1, 2000. Both companies successfully competed their auctions by the deadline. In the case of Connecticut Light & Power (CL&P), an affiliated company, Select Energy, submitted the winning bid for part of the company's assets. In contrast, United Illuminating decided to leave the generation business. All of these plants were sold for more than their book value, and the excess was used to reduce the companies' stranded costs.
The act required the companies to auction off their nuclear generation by January 1, 2004. In fact, the companies submitted their plan to auction the Millstone plants on September 15, 1999, and DPUC approved the plan with modifications on April 19, 2000. On August 7, 2000, DPUC announced that Dominion Resources had submitted the winning of approximately $ 1. 3 billion. The two companies subsequently auctioned their interests in the Seabrook plant in New Hampshire.

Determination of Stranded Costs
The act allowed the companies to seek recovery of their generation-related stranded costs, notably the above-market costs of their plants and purchased power contracts with non-utility generators. CL&P submitted its application on March 15, 1999 and DPUC made its initial determination of $ 3. 6 billion on July 7, 1999. UI submitted its application on March 24, 1999, and DPUC made its initial determination of $ 801 million on August 4, 1999. In both cases, DPUC modified its stranded costs determinations following the auction of the nuclear power plants.

Licensing Suppliers
The act required DPUC to begin licensing suppliers by April 1, 1999, and it issued its first licenses in December 1999. It has currently licensed 12 suppliers, although most are not currently seeking customers. It has also licensed 12 entities as aggregators, which gather customers together to make them more attractive to suppliers. Several entities are licensed under both categories. DPUC has a Webpage, http: //www. dpuc. state. ct. us/Electric. nsf/ByElectricApplicants?OpenView&Start=1&Count=30&Expand=2#2, which provides additional information about licensees.

Opening the Market to Competition
Consumers in distressed municipalities were allowed to choose their electric supplier as of January 1, 2000. Consumers in most other parts of the state were allowed to choose as of July 1, 2000. Municipal utility customers are not allowed to choose a supplier unless their municipal utility seeks to serve customers outside of its service territory; to date none has.

Provision of Standard Offer Service
The act capped retail electric rates at their 1998 levels until December 31, 1999. It required the companies to provide standard offer service, from January 1, 2000 until December 31, 2003, for consumers who did not choose a competitive supplier. It required that DPUC set the rates for this service at levels at least 10% below the level the companies charged on December 31, 1996. Currently, approximately 99% of consumers are on standard offer service.

The act also required all consumers (whether they choose a supplier or remained on standard offer service) to pay four charges as of January 1, 2000. The largest of these is the competitive transition assessment (CTA), which is used to recover the companies' stranded costs. The act allows for the issuance of securitization bonds, backed by the CTA, in connection with certain stranded costs. (OLR Report 97-R-1006 describes how securitization works. ) The systems benefits charge covers the costs of public policies associated with the restructuring of the electric industry, including provisions for dislocated utility workers and municipalities that lost property tax revenue from power plants. The act required DPUC to set these charges; the act itself established charges to provide funding for energy conservation and renewable energy promotion.


Most of the act's provisions have already gone into effect. The one major future change will occur on December 31, 2003, when standard offer service expires. Thereafter, the companies will be required to provide default service to customers who do not choose a supplier (to date, fewer than 1% of customers have selected a supplier). Unlike standard offer, the law does not specify the rate to be charged for this service. A bill considered this session (sHB 5428) would have specified (1) the method by which the companies would have been required to obtain power for default service and (2) how this service would be priced. The bill would have made many other changes in the deregulation law, including its provisions requiring suppliers to obtain part of their power from renewable sources (the renewable portfolio standard). The legislature took no action on this bill, which had passed the Energy and Technology and several other committees.

Under current law, the renewable portfolio standard will increase each July 1st for the next ten years. The renewable energy charge will increase from its current level of 0. 05 cent per kilowatt-hour (khw) to 0. 075 cent per kwh on July 1, 2002 and 0. 1 cent per kwh on July 1, 2004

As noted above, the systems benefits charge covers public policy costs associated with deregulation. These include costs associated with dislocated utility workers and municipal property losses attributable to deregulation. By law, the property tax losses must occur before the 2005 assessment year to be recoverable. PA 02-64 broadened the dislocated worker provision to cover workers affected by tighter emission standards for older fossil fuel plants. It also delayed, from 2006 to 2008, the last date these costs could be incurred and still be recoverable by the systems benefits charge.

As noted above, the law permits the issuance of securitization bonds backed by the CTA. Such bonds were issued on behalf of CL&P; United Illuminating determined that this option did not provide economic benefits for the company. Under the act, the bonds must mature by December 31, 2011.

Legislators Bring DPUC Commissioner to Town...
In Town Hall Monday, October 23, 2000, sponsored by Senator Freedman, Representatives Tymniak and Stripp...the first inkling locally of power issue.  The law that started the deregulation ball rolling for utilities was PA98-28 .Guest speaker at this meeting brought news!  Very few Westonites attended what turns out to have been a very important information session...

A small group of interested citizens listened to Commissioner John W. Betkoski, III of the Department of Public Utilitiy Control (DPUC) try to explain who, what, when, where and why--and how--electric power has been "deregulated."

Assuring those present that it would not be a repeat of the telephone "slamming" and general confusion of recent times, the Commissioner and staff member William J. Palomba (Consumer Education Outreach Coordinator--or "CEO coordinator") noted that much more had to be done technically as well as on the public education front before this 1998 act of the Legislature to deregulate part of the electric power business in our State goes much further.