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Editorial: New engery bill would be a big step for renewable energy in Connecticut

On April 16, 2014

A bill currently under consideration in the state legislature would be a major step forward for renewable energy in Connecticut if passed. The bill would set up two pilot solar energy programs that would allow people who aren't able to put solar panels on their own homes enjoy the benefits of solar energy.
The plan, called "shared solar" aims to take advantage of optimal locations for solar fields. Panels would be set up where there was room and good conditions, and homeowners who were interested could pay a subscription fee for the solar energy. The energy generated by the panels would go directly into the grid, but those who paid for it would receive a credit on their electric bill.
The plan would allow residents who can't put solar panels on their own homes to support green energy. An estimated 80 percent of Connecticut residences can't support solar panels for a number of reasons. Shady areas, roofs with skylights or other obstructions and rented residences like apartments or condos where residents don't own the roof can't be used for solar energy. Through shared solar, residents would be able to combine their resources for the benefits of cost savings and greener energy.
One of the proponents of the bill, Rep. Jonathan Steinberg, D-Westport, said "the idea of shared solar - where a number of entities can pool their interests and create larger solar fields and everybody benefits - is inevitable in my view." He is one of the shared solar advocates who thinks the bill should provide for more than just two pilot projects. Shared solar has been tried in 10 different states, with 15 projects currently underway in Massachusetts.
Some lawmakers say the bill would be an unnecessary burden on those who aren't interested in solar energy and that many of the details about how solar sharing works with the grid have yet to be worked out. The Department of Energy and Environmental Protection, Connecticut Light and Power and United Illuminating all opposed the bill in hearings over concerns that the solar fields would become unregulated utilities.
While these concerns are all worth addressing, they shouldn't stop Connecticut from pursuing shared solar energy. It's a practical approach the renewable energy that should help bring the state into the future.

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