The attitude toward Connecticut electricity has shifted.
For the past several years, all the discussion focused on lower prices and renewable energy. The two widespread power outages in 2011 changed those talks to utility performance standards, infrastructure hardening and emergency preparation and response.
Following Tropical Storm Irene in August and an October snowstorm that each led to nearly 1 million ratepayers losing power - some in excess of a week - an irate public and government officials pointed the finger at the state's utilities, particularly Northeast Utilities subsidiary Connecticut Light & Power.
Following several studies into the preparation and response to the storm, Malloy made several recommendations to prevent great loss of power in the future.
The top issue will be legislation allowing the Public Utilities Regulatory Authority to develop performance standards for utilities for major events, and using penalties to enforce those standards.
Malloy is also calling for improvements to the utilities' mutual aid system, increase tree trimming by both the state and utilities, and developing a pilot program for mini-power plants to keep electric generation near population centers.
Hartford-based Northeast Utilities refused to comment for this story.
New Haven electric utility United Illuminating wants to wait and see what legislation comes out of Malloy's recommendations and the other storm response reports, spokesman Michael West said.
Because of the shorter legislative session - Feb. 8 to May 9 - there's only so much that can be accomplished, West noted.
Sen. John Fonfara (D-Hartford), co-chair of the legislature's Energy & Technology Committee, said after years of pushing utilities to provide lower prices, it is unfair and irresponsible to put all the blame on the utilities.
Malloy's recommendations also call for advanced training and preparation for storms, as well as better communication between utilities and state and local officials.
The key is finding the proper balance between price and the cost of preparation, Fonfara said. Connecticut currently has the third highest electricity rates in the nation, behind Hawaii and Alaska.
"I want to find out if any state is prepared to the level being recommended here," Fonfara said. "Let's see what the appetite of the governor, the legislature and the public is to get to this level of preparation."
The legislature also will tackle other issues coming out of last year's major energy policy reform bill that created the Department of Energy & Environmental Protection and pushed to make Connecticut a leader in clean technology.
The Energy & Technology Committee will address supporting more zero-emissions power plant projects, creating a program where clean technology improvements can be paid for like a mortgage and developing a conservation fund to weatherize homes heated by fuel oil.
The fuel oil efficiency fund is a major issue for Connecticut Fund for the Environment, said staff attorney Charles Rothenberger.
Homes using electricity or natural gas for heat are eligible for weatherization programs under the Connecticut Energy Efficiency Fund. As 52 percent of Connecticut homes use heating oil, a conservation fund will drastically reduce fossil fuel consumption in the state, Rothenberger said.
"It is important to tackling our goals for reducing climate change," Rothenberger said.
Check out other key legislative issues for 2012: