The state House on Tuesday opened the door for electricity generated from cascading water to play a greater role in the state's renewable energy mix.
In a 112-33 vote, the House approved legislation changing the the state's definition of renewable power, adding hydro to solar, wind, and fuel cells.
Tuesday's bill included some changes to the proposal approved by the Senate 26-6 on May 6, so the Senate must sign off on those before sending the measure for Gov. Dannel P. Malloy's signature.
Immediately after the House passed the measure, industry and environmental groups attacked the hydro provision, calling it a rollback of the state's renewable standards and a windfall for Canadian power provider Hydro-Quebec, which would provide the large-scale hydro.
"This legislation is based on the faulty premise that provincially-owned, Canadian large-scale hydro is cheaper, cleaner and more reliable than generators based in Connecticut and throughout New England," said Dan Dolan, president of the trade group New England Power Generators Association.
The measure – Senate Bill 1138 – still calls for 20 percent of the state's electricity to come from Class I renewable resources by 2020. In order to use hydro to meet renewable goals, electricity providers must prove there aren't enough resources to meet the state's goals with other Class I resources, particularly solar, wind, and fuel cells.
Malloy and the state Department of Energy & Environmental Protection developed the measure to keep electricity costs low while focusing on sources of power that emit few greenhouse gases. The bill also deals with problems with the current standards where 89 percent of Connecticut's renewable power is purchased from out of state and 87 percent comes from biomass plants and landfill gas.