I was invited to attend a seminar on Friday, Sept. 7, titled "New Strategies for Changing Communities." This event was co-hosted by the city of Bridgeport, Bridgeport churches and church councils and UI.
The purpose was to let community leaders, small business owners and residents know about energy conservation programs.
Connecticut has laws on the books and funds in the bank to:
- Provide financial incentives for consumers to replace high-energy use appliances
- Subsidize renewable energy installations
The same law also provides for what are termed Energy Improvement Districts (EIDs). These districts allow for property owners or businesses to band together and negotiate directly with UI on rates.
Since 2007, three municipalities in Connecticut have taken advantage of the EIDs: Stamford, Vernon and Bridgeport.
Since we live in Fairfield County and Fairfield County uses the most electricity in the state, let’s take a look at what Stamford and Bridgeport did.
Stamford used its Energy Improvement District to take its city hall buildings totally off the electric grid. Fuel cells, manufactured here in Connecticut, provide the power regardless of storms or any grid emergency.
Bridgeport took the step of declaring the entire city an Energy Improvement District. The benefits of the EID are available to every resident and every business in Bridgeport.
Bridgeport is going a step further than Stamford and is planning the largest fuel cell installation in North America. Again, these fuel cells are made here in Connecticut.
Bridgeport EID also negotiated with electricity providers on rates, getting the lowest rate in Connecticut. That low rate -- providing an average savings of 20 percent off the generation rate -- is available to every business and resident in Bridgeport.
My UI bill was $142 last month and $152 the month before. I know I can always use extra dollars in my pocket. What could our Stratford small businesses do with a regular reduction on their electric bills?
When I asked Mayor Finch how Bridgeport managed to do everything required for the EID, he told me that it was the support from its state legislative delegation that made the difference.
We all know that Terry Backer has fought long and hard on environmental issues for Stratford. But, Terry Backer can't do it alone.
When I'm elected to the state assembly, I'm going to work with Terry Backer and our town leaders to make sure Stratford takes advantage of these great programs.