Energy

The Country’s Most Unpopular Governor Increases Renewable Energy Mandate

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Jason Hopkins Immigration and politics reporter

The governor of Connecticut signed legislation aimed at addressing climate change, likely increasing costs for residents in a state that already suffer from the highest energy bills in the country.

Outgoing Connecticut Gov. Dan Malloy, a Democrat, signed two bills into law on Wednesday, one addressing greenhouse gas emissions and the other regulating energy production. Public Act 18-82 calls for reducing the state’s carbon emissions 45 percent by 2030, compared to 2001 levels. Public Act 18-50, also signed by Malloy, mandates that 40 percent of Connecticut’s electricity originate from renewable energy. This new law doubles the states’ renewable energy portfolio, which previously stood at 20 percent.

“While President Trump, EPA Administrator Pruitt, and their Republican allies in Washington roll back critical environmental protections, Connecticut is stepping up,” Malloy said in a statement Wednesday. “These two new laws demonstrate, once again, Connecticut’s determination and leadership in combating climate change to keep our planet and residents safe, all while still being economically advantageous.”

The bills, however, have become law at a time when Connecticut already produces low rates of carbon emissions, and residents suffer from exorbitant energy costs.

No coal plants exist in Connecticut, nor does the state produce petroleum or natural gas, according to the Energy Information Administration. The vast majority of the electricity consumed is produced by nuclear power, renewables or is transported from out of state. This setup has allowed Connecticut to be ranked as the seventh most green state in the country.

Such a low-emissions energy market doesn’t come without its consequences. Connecticut earned the distinction in 2017 of being the most expensive state in the country for energy costs — beating out its New England neighbors that are also high on the list. Connecticut residents, the analysis found, paid on average $380 per month in energy costs — a whopping $48 more per month than residents in the second most expensive state.

Many green groups still expressed displeasure with the legislation signed by Malloy. Namely, environmental advocates and the solar lobby complained of a provision in one bill that reforms the state’s net metering program, which establishes a new flat rate for solar power. (RELATED: Hundreds Of Workers Impacted As Michigan Coal Plant Braces For Closure) 

“Everyone deserves the choice to lower their electric bills, especially low-income and middle-class homeowners, who are most likely to lose solar access,” read a statement from a coalition group that included Environment Connecticut and the Connecticut Citizen Action Group. “[The law] is a major step backward for solar energy in Connecticut [and] jeopardizes hundreds of solar jobs and the ability of residents and businesses to generate and use their own clean power.”

Connecticut also boasts another distinction: their governor is the most unpopular governor in the country. Morning Consult released a survey in April of the most and least popular governors in the country. Making the bottom of the list was Malloy, who touted a disapproval rating of 72 percent.

The ardently anti-Trump governor announced in April that he would not be running for re-election.

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