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Updated Energy Strategy Hampered By New England's Congested Grid

Ed Suominen
Creative Commons

Connecticut’s Department of Energy and Environmental Protection is going public with updates to a plan it hopes will reduce carbon emissions and increase supplies of renewable energy.

Among its other goals, The Comprehensive Energy Strategy calls for an expansion of the state’s flagship clean energy portfolio -- which includes renewables like wind and grid-scale solar -- to 30 percent by 2030.

Rob Klee, commissioner of DEEP, said figuring out how to move all that renewable energy around New England’s already congested grid could be tricky.

“There’s considerable amounts of wind potential up in the northern reaches of New England, up in Maine,” Klee said. “Those are transmission challenged. If you’re talking about offshore wind, that’s another place where you’d also need transmission. So trying to understand the role that transmission plays, the challenges of getting that grid infrastructure built out -- how to incorporate those costs into your deployment -- is going to be an essential part of this challenge to hit that 30 percent by 2030.”

Any updates to Connecticut’s renewable portfolio standards would require legislative approval.

Klee said DEEP has “learned a lot” since the first iteration of Comprehensive Energy Strategy in 2013, which emphasized natural gas and pipeline expansion.

Falling oil prices have blunted demand for natural gas conversions -- especially in homes. And the document acknowledges pipeline expansions in the region have not materialized at the rate projected.

Going forward, Klee said sustainability is one of the guiding stars for this energy strategy.

“We need to make sure we’re delivering cheaper, cleaner, more reliable, but more sustainable energy choices,” Klee said.

The document is now open for public comment -- and Klee said his agency will host a number of public meetings on the policy in the coming weeks.

Patrick Skahill is a reporter and digital editor at Connecticut Public. Prior to becoming a reporter, he was the founding producer of Connecticut Public Radio's The Colin McEnroe Show, which began in 2009. Patrick's reporting has appeared on NPR's Morning Edition, Here & Now, and All Things Considered. He has also reported for the Marketplace Morning Report. He can be reached by phone at 860-275-7297 or by email: pskahill@ctpublic.org.

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