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SolarConn Update 190205 CGA bill update

  1. Tracking 22 solar-related state bill proposals

  2. State Legislature's Energy Committee process explained

  3. How SolarConn members participate in the legislative process

  4. Solar coverage in today's ctmirror.org

Members and friends. Give me 20 minutes please.


The push is now on to reverse the negative impacts of last years Senate Bill No. 9 and continue the orderly development of solar in CT. SolarConn and several of our members have been in meetings with key lawmakers and the Lt. Governor in recent weeks. The new state Department of Energy (DEEP) commissioner has reached out to our attorney Brad Mondschein for a meeting following our sharp criticism of DEEP's views on solar. We're setting meetings with Governor Lamont's energy staff, ET committee members, and legislative staff. Some SolarConn members have interviewed with the media. We're also actively engaged with state regulators at PURA on several matters of great importance to solar businesses operating in Connecticut. Are you involved in any of this?

Of course, your involvement will help determine how successful we are. I'm sending this email to paid members and others benefiting from residential and commercial programs who are not part of SolarConn. To those non-members, after reading this email I hope understand the importance of sharing the load of how SolarConn represents the solar industry at the state Legislature, at PURA, at DEEP, in the media, and to the general public.

See below for the first 2019 SolarConn Connecticut General Assembly (CGA) Bill Tracking document. Currently, we're tracking 22 solar-related bills proposed by 14 different Connecticut state lawmakers. Several of these bills have been proposed at the request of SolarConn. If signed into law, any of these bills will have a significant impact on solar in Connecticut. Bill specifics will be filled in later this month.

All but one of these bills was filed in the Legislature's Energy & Technology (ET) Committee. This Committee is where the early discussion of solar legislation is had each February-March. There are several steps to the CGA's ET committee process. First, most all of the bills proposed to the ET Committee will make the first cut when the Committee meets today to approve proposed bills for future consideration: https://www.cga.ct.gov/2019/etdata/ca/pdf/2019CA-00205-R001230ET-CA.pdf.

Second, some, not all, of the bills that advance this step in Committee today will advance further. Some will get a public hearing later this month or in early March. Bills not deemed by Committee leaders as public hearing-worthy are stuck (die) in the Committee.

Third, some, not all, of the bills that do get a public hearing will ultimately be voted out of committee and sent to the state House or state Senate for votes there. All the rest of bills in possession of the ET Committee will advance no further (supporters of some of those dead committee bills will try to resurrect them later in the session as amendments to live bills). Positive public (you) testimony, phone calls, face 2 face meetings, email on bills give lawmakers reason to vote the bills out of Committee. Negative testimony, or little support will have the reverse impact. The ET committee has a March 21 deadline to wrap up its work. We have until then to win support for our bill agenda from the 25-member ET Committee (see attached).

Over the next six weeks, all 2,000+ direct and indirect solar workers in Connecticut, business owners and employees, must be asked to influence lawmakers on the ET Committee to support the bills that we support. Solar stakeholders (you, your ownership, co-workers, subs, suppliers) will be needed to either appear in person in Hartford to testify on pro-solar legislation, file written comments, make phone calls, or in person support/against bills that get a public hearing. A handful of members went to Hartford and spoke directly to lawmakers last year. Their efforts blocked the worst parts of the original SB9 from passing. But some damage was done in the 2018 Legislative session. Too few solar stakeholders got involved. More business owners need to send their workers to Hartford this year or otherwise find a way to get their pro-solar message to their two state lawmakers.

Please understand that legislative Committees in Hartford are obligated to give only 48 hours notice of meetings/hearings. That's just how the building works this time of year. For our presence to be felt in Hartford, you're going to have to be committed and prepared in advance to deploy your workforce. Those groups that are fully engage in the process more often than not get most of what they want. 

Now, some mild scolding. I continue to be alarmed, shocked really, that some SolarConn business owners and/or their senior staff, still do not know who their state Representative or state Senator are. People, I understand you're running your businesses. But many of you are not engaged ... at all. The residential and commercial programs expire in a matter of months. What else could me more important? A positive outcome should not be left to a handful of motivated solar businesses operating in Connecticut. Only a percentage of solar companies are carrying the bulk of the workload.

We've won when our members go to Hartford and engage (killed effort to retire commercial property tax last year, blocked DEEP from forcing buy all/sell all as the only option replace NEM, etc.). So long as the solar industry relies heavily in the short-term on new state policies to survive, state policy makers should be one of your most important audiences. By now, all of you should have invited your state lawmakers to a job site or your offices where lawmakers can know you exist, what you do and how you do it. I repeat this request each year. If you have not done it, do it now. And please, begin educating your workforce on who their lawmakers are. Lawmakers must understand there are solar workers (voters) that work or live in their legislative districts. Constituents, voters, are hugely important to lawmakers at this time of year.

Here is a breakdown of Energy Committee members and the towns the represent in either the state House or state Senate. Anyone in the Connecticut solar business living or working in the 56 towns represented by ET Committee leaders is an important person in the current debate. You state lawmakers sits on the ET Committee. What a waste it would be if ET Committee members do not hear from solar industry workers living or working in towns those lawmakers represent. By now, every solar business owner should have the two lawmakers that represent their business address ("My business is in your district Mr. Lawmaker), and their home address (I work in the solar industry and live in your district Mr. Lawmaker"), on speed dial. I'm not joking. Please, help your workforce match up with their state lawmakers too. I want to create list that cross references all our member's employees with their lawmakers so when we need to straighten out a lawmaker at any particular time we have that lawmakers' solar industry-dependent constituents ready and willing to call, write or visit them. Send me your progress. I'm happy to come to your business and explain how this works to your workers.

Over the past week, some of us spoke with ctmirror.org energy reporter Jan Spiegal about the expected battle over net metering at the state Legislature this year. Over the years we've worked hard to build a good relationship with Jan, one of the leading energy reporters in Connecticut. Jan's story ran today. It's good. Includes quote from SolarConn Government Affairs Committee co-chair Noel Lafayette (SHR) ... https://ctmirror.org/2019/02/05/solar-policy-fight-is-picking-up-where-it-left-off/#

Future updates on legislative and other matters as well as details on our upcoming member meetings will be posted to the new SolarConn website (launches Monday) members-only page. Despite the uncertainty in Hartford, it's still a great day to be involved in solar in Connecticut. If you like what you've read, call me to talk about getting involved.


Last, I hope to attend the Solar Power Northeast Show in Boston tomorrow to speak with product makers who sell into Connecticut. They too should be supporting our efforts to grow the industry here. If you buy product from any business that's displaying or simply attending tomorrow I'd like to meet up with them tomorrow. I'd like your help arranging a meeting.

Michael Trahan Executive Director SolarConnecticut "Connecticut's Solar Industry Group Since 2007" P.O. Box 515 Higganum, CT 06441 860-256-1698 mtrahan@solarconnecticut.org





2019 SolarConn Connecticut General Assembly (CGA) Bill Tracking




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