US Energy Secretary Granholm tours Connecticut green energy projects
Temperatures soaring into the 90s this weekend are a reminder that summers are getting hotter – thanks to climate change. On Friday, U.S. Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm visited Connecticut to highlight the state's investment in clean wind power.
"I was asked to come here by the White House because y'all have been doing amazing things in Connecticut," she said.
Gov. Ned Lamont just signed a law committing the state to a carbon-free power grid by 2040 and making it easier for customers to use "shared solar" systems.
The state is also moving aggressively toward wind power. Granholm toured the State Pier in New London, which will be a staging area for Revolution Wind. Connecticut will also purchase electricity from Park City Wind, based in Bridgeport.
"The future -- this energy transition? It's happening right now," said David Ortiz, head of Ørsted New England, which is jointly developing Revolution Wind with Eversource. United Illuminating's parent company, Avangrid, is helping develop Park City Wind.
But challenges lay ahead.
Connecticut's renewable goals depend on the Millstone Nuclear Plant in Waterford. It supplies about 40% of the state's power, but Dominion Energy has only committed to keep it open through 2029. In a bid to keep Millstone operating, state lawmakers recently passed a bill making it easier for Millstone to expand. Lamont has not yet signed it.
If Millstone shuts down, Republicans say Connecticut may have to buy green energy credits to meet its targets.
"I think we're doing it in a fake way because we're purchasing -- we're purchasing energy elsewhere in order to bring those numbers down," said state Rep. Jay Case (R-Winchester).
State Rep. Holly Cheeseman (R-East Lyme) added: "And that may not be doable at a price that our residents can afford."
But Friday, Lamont sounded confident.
"In the next three or four years, as [Department of Energy and Environmental Protection Commissioner] Katie Dykes reminds me at least four times a day, 92% of our electric grid is going to be carbon-free."
The state's last coal-powered plant shut down three years ago in Bridgeport, but PSEG replaced it with a natural gas facility. Environmental groups criticized the move, but Lamont has called natural gas a "bridge" to cleaner power sources.
Connecticut has also struggled to meet its own greenhouse gas goals. A 2021 report showed emissions actually went up, largely due to cars and trucks. This year, lawmakers approved a sweeping bill expanding electric vehicle rebates and imposing stricter emission limits on heavier trucks. The legislation awaits Lamont's signature.
Despite the challenges, one thing is certain. When it comes to energy, the future is blowing in the wind.