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March 2, 2015 Reporter's Notebook

Electric suppliers pay $39M for missing renewable goals

The Connecticut Public Utilities Regulatory Authority has ordered 34 electricity suppliers to submit a total of $38.9 million in alternative compliance payments for failing to meet the state's renewable energy goals.

Connecticut's renewable portfolio standard calls for 27 percent of the state's electricity to come from Class I, II, and III sources like solar, wind, biomass, and landfill gas by 2020. Each year, companies that supply electricity to residents and businesses are required to have an increasing amount of their supply come from these renewable sources.

In 2012, the RPS called for suppliers to use 16 percent renewable power, but PURA recently ruled that 34 of the state's 42 suppliers failed to meet that goal and had to make alternative compliance payments (ACP), which are then rebated to ratepayers. Payments are due March 13.

The biggest ACP will be made by New Milford-based supplier Public Power & Utility, which owes $6.5 million. Other notable suppliers that made ACPs were TransCanada ($6.2 million), Direct Energy ($3.2 million), Hess ($5.6 million), Viridian Energy ($305,525), Discount Power ($2.8 million), and Dominion ($191,675).

The suppliers compete with utilities United Illuminating and Eversource Energy to provide ratepayers with electricity. UI and Eversource also must meet the standard. In 2012, Eversource met the standard while UI didn't and had to pay $88,942.

To make procuring renewable energy more affordable, Gov. Dannel P. Malloy last week proposed a joint venture with Rhode Island and Massachusetts to use their collective buying power to pay for significant renewable energy projects.

The three states will seek bids this spring from wind, solar, small hydro, biomass, and fuel cell projects of at least 20 megawatts.

The states also have other goals such as diversifying the fuel mix of New England's power plants and addressing issues with winter heating and electricity reliability.

– Brad Kane

CORRECTION: A previous version of this article incorrectly stated that alternative compliance payments are used to fund renewable energy programs. That was changed in 2013 to instead use ACP to give ratepayers a rebate.

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