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Amendment Seeks to Overturn CT Pipeline Tax

Massachusetts, New Hampshire and Rhode Island have blocked or overturned pipeline charges similar to those being debated in the Connecticut General Assembly. (NPCA Online/Flickr)
Massachusetts, New Hampshire and Rhode Island have blocked or overturned pipeline charges similar to those being debated in the Connecticut General Assembly. (NPCA Online/Flickr)
June 7, 2017

HARTFORD, Conn. - Environmental and consumer groups are urging passage of an amendment in the state Senate that would protect Connecticut electric customers from being forced to pay for new gas pipelines.

The proposed amendment to Senate Bill 861 would overturn a pipeline tax passed in 2015 to fund interstate gas pipelines. According to Louis Burch, Connecticut program director for the group Citizens Campaign for the Environment, the states of Massachusetts, New Hampshire and Rhode Island already have blocked or overturned similar charges.

"Should these pipeline proposals move forward, Connecticut ratepayers would be in a unique situation," he said. "They would be the only one at the ratepayer level who'd be subsidizing these projects."

A recent study estimated that the proposed Access Northeast Pipeline would cost $6.6 billion.

Burch said Connecticut already is heavily reliant on natural gas and nuclear power, but is having trouble meeting its commitment to build up renewable energy.

"We have a state policy that by the year 2023, we should derive 20 percent of our energy mix from renewables," he said, "and currently, Connecticut's generating somewhere between 2 percent and 4 percent of our electric from renewable sources."

The state is in the process of developing a comprehensive energy strategy, but an initial draft has been delayed. Burch said he is concerned that the Department of Environmental Protection will prioritize natural gas as a "bridge to a clean-energy future."

"We need to be prioritizing distributed-generation tools, community solar, virtual net metering, all of these things that the Legislature has really failed to do in a meaningful way," he said.

Burch said building new gas infrastructure would commit the state to continued reliance on fossil fuels for years to come.

The text of Senate Bill 861 is online at cga.ct.gov.

Andrea Sears, Public News Service - CT