Sunburned: The Unintended Effect of Senate Bill 9

While Connecticut Senate Bill 9 is a step forward for renewable energy, it includes a knife in the back for homeowners and small businesses.

Written .
Originally published in the issue of The Quinnehtukqut.
Updated .

While voters were asleep , Senate Bill 9 passed our House. It effectively undoes our state’s popular and successful net metering program. The text of the bill, if signed into law, would require Connecticut’s energy usage to step up to being 40% from renewables by , as opposed to the current mandate of 28% by . I’ll commend it that much. I’m sure this is where our elected officials stopped reading.

The remainder of S.B. 9 eliminates net metering, the promise where a customer with solar panels will pay for electricity by the kilowatt-hour like any other customer; however, when their home is generating more power than it’s consuming, the provider would buy the excess power at the same price. PV system owners have seen their electricity bills greened by the sun, making the investment pay for itself in a matter of years.

Under S.B. 9, utility companies such as Eversource can set lower buyback rates during periods of “excessive generation.” Its passage would all but gut our rooftop solar industry, laying waste to yet another of Connecticut’s fast-growing economies and threatening to send all 2,000 of our tax-paying solar jobs to greener pastures. Case in point: when a similar bill passed in Nevada, and that sunny state lost thousands of jobs to their solar-friendly neighbors, it wasn’t long before their legislature backtracked and re-instated net metering.

The advocacy group Vote Solar said through their regional director, Sean Garren: This bill is sadly misguided. Connecticut pays some of the highest electricity costs in the nation, and rooftop solar investment provides a much needed opportunity for families and businesses to manage those bills while lowering the overall cost of the utility system for everyone - and helping us fight climate change as well.

Last year, residents of the towns of New Milford and Sherman stood against the Siting Council under the banner of Rescue Candlewood Mountain and staunchly opposed the solar sprawl of razing part of scenic Candlewood Mountain to build a large solar plant. However, there is little if any opposition to homeowners buying a PV system. The removal of net metering, ironically, would undercut the higher renewable goals promised by S.B. 9.

At least two out of three lawmakers voted on the side of your electric company, but this is a classic case of our elected representatives betraying the popular vote that sent them to Hartford in the first place. A recent poll by Public Policy Polling shows that 77% of Connecticut electors surveyed are in favor of expanding the role of solar energy in our state. Moreover, splitting the numbers by party affiliation is an exercise in futility, with 71% of Republicans, 78% of Democrats, and 81% of Independents in favor of expanding access to solar energy.

While S.B. 9 now sits on Governor Malloy’s desk, it originated from his office, so a veto seems unlikely. All we can do is remind our readers of the significance of .

UPDATE: Indeed, this bill was signed into law .


"The Quinnehtukqut" - June 2018
Connecticut General Assembly - Substitute Senate Bill No. 9: "An Act Concerning Connecticut's Energy Future"
Connecticut General Assembly - "Vote for SB-9 Roll Call Number 274"
Vote Solar - "Press Statement: Connecticut Passes Anti-Solar Bill"
Vote Solar - "Connecticut Voters Support Solar Growth and Climate Leadership"
Public Policy Polling - Connecticut Survey Results
Rescue Candlewood Mountain