Green Energy Program Dropped in Connecticut

Green Mountain Energy Company, a national retail provider of cleaner electricity, says it will discontinue serving all of its 1,312 customers in Connecticut as of March 31, 2003.

Wayne, Pennsylvania – January 20, 2003 [SolarAccess.com] The company cited regulations that make it cost prohibitive to bring pollution-free energy into Connecticut, as well as the overall lack of a competitive electric market in the state, for its decision to cease operations. The company says it will focus its efforts in the eastern U.S. on expanding its customer base in New Jersey, New York and Pennsylvania In recent months Green Mountain Energy Company had been the only energy supplier actively signing up residential customers in Connecticut. The company began marketing its brand of pollution-free electricity to Connecticut electric customers in January 2001. “Green Mountain Energy Company is all about changing the way power is made by offering cleaner electricity from less-polluting energy sources. Unfortunately, regulatory hurdles in Connecticut have made it impossible to continue offering our customers pollution-free electricity service in an affordable manner,” said A. Clifton Payne, Jr. eastern region president for Green Mountain Energy Company. “This decision didn’t come easily or quickly. We’ve spent countless days over the last year meeting with state legislators and regulators to make the case for electric competition in Connecticut.” Specifically, three factors led to the company’s decision to discontinue its service in Connecticut: the artificially low, fixed Standard Offer rate does not reflect the true cost of electricity; New rules adopted in the last year by the regional power grid serving the New England states place limitations and excessive costs on Green Mountain Energy Company’s ability to secure pollution-free wind electricity for Connecticut customers. With no wind power generation available in Connecticut, Green Mountain Energy Company imported Renewable Energy from upstate New York; in a recent report to the state legislature, the Connecticut Department of Public Utility Control (DPUC) and the Office of Consumer Counsel (OCC) concluded that “The competitive retail market has not developed.” “Without true customer choice, Renewable Energy offerings and rate savings on the retail market are not viable at this time in Connecticut, as demonstrated by the fact that other energy suppliers have stopped serving customers in the state,” Payne said. SmartPower Connecticut and its collaborating partners, Environment Northeast, Clean Water Fund and the Interreligious Eco-Justice Network responded to the news expressing strong confidence in the future of Renewable Energy in Connecticut. “Connecticut has been, and will continue to be a leader in recognizing the importance of clean, Renewable Energy,” said Brian F. Keane, Executive Director of SmartPower Connecticut. “The news from Green Mountain Energy today is a foreseeable ‘growing pain’ as we continue to shift from an economy based on polluting fossil fuels to one based on non-polluting Renewable Energy.” Many have argued that Green Mountain Energy’s announcement poses a temporary setback for those who choose to purchase their power from green sources, such as wind, water and solar energy generators. SmartPower Connecticut and its collaborators said the action has strengthened their resolve to start a discussion about market policies, seek new green energy suppliers and encourage technologies that advance electricity generation through non-polluting sources. The collaborators’ goals include: Promoting changes to Connecticut’s Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS), the standard for the amount of Renewable Energy the state’s suppliers must include in their electricity offerings; fixing market rules that deter new energy suppliers from entering Connecticut’s deregulated energy market; and encouraging new green energy marketers to enter the state.
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