August 20, 2018
Energy & Utilities

Efficiency contractor: CT funding raid taking its toll

Photo | HBJ File
Photo | HBJ File
Leticia Colon de Mejias helping on a home energy assessment.

The legislature's decision late last year to raid $165 million in energy-efficiency funds to help solve the state's budget deficit is playing out about as badly as expected for efficiency contractors.

So says Leticia Colon de Mejias, CEO of Windsor-based Energy Efficiencies Solutions (EES) and a co-plaintiff in an ongoing lawsuit against the state that argues the raid is unconstitutional.

The majority of that $165 million diversion — $117 million — comes from the state's energy-efficiency fund, which is replenished annually by charges on utility customers' bills. That fund pays for incentives for residential and commercial energy-efficiency upgrades, from insulation to windows, and has helped grow an industry of contractors like Energy Efficiencies Solutions.

Colon de Mejias said she has been forced to lay off eight of her 30 employees since January. She says others have it worse.

"I know three companies that have closed already," she said. "Everybody is in crisis."

Programs have been reduced across the board, as have marketing budgets, taking a deep bite out of contractor revenues.

"I've never been booked out less than 30 days, now I'm booked out five days," said Colon de Mejias, whose company provides home energy assessments, energy usage reports, air sealing, and insulation, among other services. "We don't know if we have work next week."

She said fellow contractors are taking out loans to cover expenses in the hopes that the raid is overturned, or that particularly cold weather starts in September, which could prompt more eligible homeowners to seek services. She said others are exploring a move to Massachusetts, which is viewed as having a healthier energy-efficiency market than Connecticut.

The state continues to fight the lawsuit in federal court, noting that it's swept energy funds before.

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