July 14, 2009 | last updated May 26, 2012 8:01 am

Attorney Fred Klein, President, Connecticut Power & Energy Society | Fuel for CT's energy potential

Editor's Note: Klein heads the energy practice for law firm Pullman & Comley in Hartford. Kelly Kennedy, the society's executive director, also participated in the Q&A.

The society, an association of energy professionals, is dedicated to generating information, sharing ideas and educating Connecticut on energy issues. Are these traditional energy issues or nontraditional energy issues like solar, wind and nuclear power?

Yes, and yes. The CT Power and Energy Society is a trade association composed of professionals whose energy focuses run the gamut, from traditional petroleum and gas, to nuclear power, to cutting edge conservation and renewable energy technologies. Connecticut is more progressive on energy than most people probably think. For example, recent legislative efforts, like Connecticut's Energy Independence Act and Project 150, are encouraging the development of home-grown state-of-the-art generation and conservation efforts. In fact, there's a recent state energy efficiency scorecard that ranked Connecticut third, behind California and Oregon, on its energy efficiency policies and practices. Moreover, under Connecticut's Climate Change Initiative, the state's goal is to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to 1990 levels by the year 2010 and an additional 10 percent below that by the year 2020. CPES members are involved in virtually every phase of these laudable efforts.

What is Connecticut's potential for developing solar and wind power in the near future?

According to the Integrated Resource Plan for Connecticut, prepared by the Brattle Group, "Connecticut has limited amounts of attractive renewable resource options; it has little economic potential for wind and solar power, and even less for other renewables like wave, tidal, geothermal, etc. Other parts of New England have more promising renewable resource potential (e.g., wind in northern New England)." Nonetheless, private developers are currently working to bring commercial scale wind power to the state and the Connecticut Clean Energy Fund has done a tremendous job of encouraging on-site solar development.

What are some of the other goals, both long-term and short-term, of the society?

The lines between short-term and long-term goals can get a little blurry these days, since what used to be considered "short-term" is now more likely to be considered "long term," but our most significant goal is to develop a committee framework that engages more of our membership on a routine basis. This fall we'd like to enhance opportunities for people with common industry interests to update one another on what's going on in their respective fields, so that our monthly meetings are effectively mini-seminars on what's going on within specific segments of the energy industry. This is part of CPES's vision, and we're all enthusiastic about making it happen.

We're also focusing on making it easier for people to do business with us, updating our website with more fresh content, and encouraging young people to study and work in energy-related fields. Another important goal is to get our regulatory and legislative update off the ground. Periodic updates are distributed as electronic newsletters.

And certainly, pulling off a top-rate fall conference is a primary focus right now. Our recent Energy Conference in Mystic was a tremendous success, with 380 attendees and a regional, and even international, array of speakers. Our upcoming 10th annual "What's The Deal?" conference will be held Oct. 14 at the Cromwell Crowne Plaza, and we're excited to have as a keynote speaker Gina McCarthy, former DEP commissioner and now assistant administrator for the office of air and radiation at the US EPA.

Your group recently sponsored two energy job boot camps. What are some of the jobs that are available in energy?

CPES didn't sponsor energy boot camps, but some of our members may have. One "new energy jobs boot camp" that's coming up next week is a joint effort of the Emily Hall Tremaine Foundation and the Annie E. Casey Foundation, for municipalities, town energy committees, small businesses, utilities, state agencies, and clean energy advocates to help maximize the use of federal stimulus funds for energy efficiency. Other groups like CBIA, and Gateway Community College are parts of broader coalitions working on training a green workforce for Connecticut.

The Kleen Energy plant being developed in Middletown under the 2005 Energy Independence Act is employing over 600 highly skilled tradespeople and is employing even more in support functions. It is also keeping local businesses busy supplying components such as concrete and steel. This is one example of how energy fuels our local economy.

If Connecticut is going to be part of a new energy economy, we'll need trained people to design, install and maintain all the systems that will be part of a new energy framework. That means we'll need skilled tradespeople to install things like state-of-the-art generation systems, fuel cells, solar systems, geothermal systems and environmentally sound hydropower. We'll need construction workers and architects to do energy-efficient building and remodeling and know which materials to use and where to get them. We'll need engineers to constantly design better energy materials and equipment and to improve the ways that energy gets delivered. There are some good workforce development reports on the CT Clean Energy Fund site worth looking at for more information on jobs for the new energy economy.

At the 16th annual New England Energy Conference, Claude Bechard, minister of natural resources and wildlife in Quebec, said 97 percent of the energy produced in Quebec comes from renewable resources. Where is Connecticut in comparison? Does that factor in energy purchased from Quebec?

We heard something to that effect too, and we were astounded at that percentage. As far as electricity goes, the Québec government's site says "Québec's electricity generation facilities are made up by and large of hydroelectric power plants, which account for 94 percent of available power. The remaining power is generated by thermal plants, which burn petroleum products, and Gentilly 2, a nuclear power plant."

Connecticut is different. We don't have the vast wilderness with abundant water resources like Canada, but we do have innovative people and responsive legislators and regulators who see the challenges of our dependence on imported energy resources and climate change. Responding to these challenges, Connecticut has set aggressive goals for energy independence and greenhouse gas reductions. For example, replacing our aging fleet of generators with newer more efficient plants will reduce fossil fuel use and help clean our air. In addition, Connecticut's renewable resource portfolio standard requires that 12 percent of this year's power supply comes from clean energy sources and this increases to 27 percent by 2020. We expect that CPES' members will play a significant part in meeting those goals.

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