Connecticut House approves new renewable portfolio standards

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Legislation approved earlier this week in the Connecticut House of Representatives will allow large-scale hydroelectric projects to count towards the state's renewable energy portfolio -- but not without a caveat.

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

The state'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.

Connecticut's House passed these measures with a 112-33 vote in favor, but an amendment means the legislation must now be given back to the state's Senate for reconsideration. HydroWorld.com reported that the Senate approved the original legislation in April.

As per the amendment, hydropower projects would need to be approved by the state's attorney general and office of consumer counsel before being allowed to count toward Connecticut's renewable standard.

The new measure is intended to further increase development opportunities for other renewables like wind, biomass and solar, though critics say that another of S.B. 1138's provisions -- that hydro power imported from Canadian sources can qualify toward the state's RPS -- negates it.

HydroWorld.com reported earlier this week that similar efforts to include hydro in state renewable portfolio standards are also getting under way in Oregon.

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