Connecticut bill would modify state's renewable portfolio standard to include some Canadian hydro

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A bill that would modify Connecticut's current set of renewable portfolio standards is drawing fire as opponents say it would negatively impact jobs, consumer choice and electricity prices.

The legislation, called An Act Concerning Connecticut's Clean Energy Goals (or officially State Bill 1138) would expand the state's definition of "Class I" hydropower resources to include hydroelectric projects with capacities up to 30 MW.

Connecticut's current renewable portfolio standards (RPS) limit hydropower eligibility to plants with capacities of up to 5 MW, meaning some existing larger hydroelectric plants could then contribute toward the state's goal of producing 20% of its power from Class I green sources by 2020, assuming the project began operation on or after Jan. 1, 2003.

While opponents in some states considering similar RPS revisions argue that the addition of existing hydroelectric resources might stymie renewable development in other sectors, Connecticut's bill also adds a caveat that energy purchased from Canadian hydropower projects can also qualify for inclusion by the state.

Called a "Class I contracted tier renewable energy source" by SB 1138, the legislation sets a cap on the percentage of energy that could be included. That number would start at 2% in 2014, then grow incrementally before maxing out at 7.5% in 2025 and all years thereafter.

The bill recently passed the state's Energy and Technology Committee with a 16-8 vote in favor. It will now go before Connecticut's General Assembly before the session ends in June.

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