From: Maria Garriga, New Haven Register
Published November 18, 2004 12:00 AM

Connecticut Program Promotes Use of Renewable Energy

ROCKY HILL, Conn. - The Connecticut Clean Energy Fund will offer free solar energy systems to towns and cities that commit to buying 20 percent of their electricity from environmentally friendly sources by 2010, the agency said Tuesday.


The $500,000 program, "Connecticut's Clean Energy Communities," will encourage municipalities to urge consumers to use renewable energy.


"Solar energy is here in Connecticut. It's real, it's here, and it's working," said Charlie Moret, marketing director for the Clean Energy Fund.


Moret said the program gives towns and cities three options: They can have at least 100 people to sign up for the program, they can encourage businesses to buy at 1-gigawatt of renewable energy, or they can qualify if 10 percent of residents sign up.


The solar panels can be attached to municipal buildings or schools to produce electricity and reduce electric costs.


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Two years ago, New Haven was the first city in the state to commit to buying 20 percent of its energy from renewable sources.


"It's a no-brainer for New Haven," said Robert M. Smuts, deputy chief of staff for the city. New Haven has been trying to lead the state in renewable energy, he said.


Clean Energy Fund officials believe once residents see renewable energy in use, they will begin to use it themselves.


Residents and businesses in participating communities may sign up directly for clean energy options made available by The United Illuminating Co. of New Haven and Connecticut Light & Power Co.


The state Department of Public Utility Control has required the utilities to allow consumers to sign up for renewable energy. The utilities will buy the renewable energy and charge consumers accordingly.


The Connecticut General Assembly created the Connecticut Clean Energy Fund in 1998 as a quasi-public agency that invests in clean energy technologies such as biomass, landfill gas, fuel cells, solar, wave and wind power.


The agency receives its funding through a surcharge on ratepayers' electric bills.


Source: Knight Ridder/Tribune Business News


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