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Final energy strategy focuses on natural gas, grid reliability

The final version of Connecticut’s first-ever Comprehensive Energy Strategy calls for expanding the availability of low-cost natural gas to consumers, implementing initiatives to reduce consumption and strengthening grid reliability through an investment in microgrids.

The plan, unveiled Feb. 19 by Gov. Dannel P. Malloy, “sets Connecticut apart by bringing down energy costs for both residents and businesses,” the governor said.

“Focusing on innovative approaches to energy efficiency—cost effective renewable power, smarter building management and expanded use of low-cost natural gas, we are reducing consumer costs, making the state more competitive and creating good jobs with good benefits.”

The Comprehensive Energy Strategy (CES) calls on the state’s gas utilities to detail how to make low-cost natural gas an option for hundreds of thousands of residents and three-quarters of the state’s businesses over the next seven years, and proposes a $500 tax credit for consumers who make the switch to natural gas.

Other elements proposed as part of the CES include upgrades to power lines and an investment in microgrids, or small-scale generation networks that could distribute electricity to facilities like hospitals, water treatment facilities and town centers in the event of prolonged power failures.

Malloy’s plan would also provide a platform for the expanded use of alternative fuels and vehicles, and would strengthen energy efficiency programs for consumers and businesses.

Information on the state’s energy efficiency programs is now centralized on EnergizeCT.com, while the state Office of Energy Efficient Businesses is available to help small businesses identify and implement steps they can take to reduce their energy bills.

The creation of a statewide energy plan was called for as part of a June 2011 statute. The law calls for the state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (DEEP) and the Connecticut Energy Advisory Board to prepare a revised Comprehensive Energy Strategy for Connecticut every three years.

A draft energy plan was published last fall by DEEP, with public hearings on the plan held throughout November and public comments accepted through the end of December.

[Editor’s note: This article has been updated to reflect new information included in Gov. Dannel P. Malloy’s Feb. 19 unveiling of the state’s Comprehensive Energy Strategy.]

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