Photo: Autumn Driscoll / Autumn Driscoll
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The movement of light is the fixed definition for speed.
The movement of Connecticut is pretty much the opposite.
In recent years, about the only way Connecticut lands before New York and Massachusetts is alphabetically.
There may be no better evidence of this than how these neighbors have pursued the concept of shared solar energy.
Shared solar feeds power into the electric grid that comes from a facility supported by subscribers who lack the option of panels where they reside. Itâ€™s the solar version of community gardens, which benefit those without soil.
Massachusetts is at the head of the pack, operating a reported 317 megawatts of shared solar with another 554 megawatts being readied.
Connecticut, meanwhile, has been quibbling over a pilot program for five years. Though lawmakers approved a shared program last year, it is capped at 25 megawatts of solar per year for six years, and does not permit rollover of unused power into the next year. Itâ€™s a fraction of what is permitted in other states, many of which do not use caps.
Some of the players in the game never wanted a pilot program, but Connecticut lawmakers want to first study the program in miniature. Of course, they could get a pretty good idea by looking to more aggressive states.
Who would be opposed to sharing solar energy?
Those pesky lobbyists from traditional energy platforms for one. Homeowners have consistently expressed interest, but a lot of dwellings are not suitable for solar.
A lot, in this case, is defined as about 80 percent.
This can be due to trees providing shade, or because the roof faces in the wrong direction. Or simply because the interested party rents.
Itâ€™s understandable that utilities would resist embracing a community solar future. They get less money from these customers, while still needing to maintain poles and wires.
To Connecticutâ€™s credit, some lawmakers have pressed to ensure greater access for low- and moderate-income subscribers. Developers are not exactly known for creating opportunities to assist low-income residents. If they did, more would exceed mandated minimums when they build housing. Shared solar projects do not yield big money.
The Connecticut Mirrorâ€™s Jan Ellen Spiegel, who has closely covered the issue, pointed out that as shared solar inches toward regulatory approval, pushback has been unabated from all quarters.
The Department of Energy and Environmental Protectionâ€™s final plans presented to the Public Utilities Regulatory Authority drew criticism for being too restrictive.
PURA has until Jan. 1 deadline to approve the program. Donâ€™t expect them to speed up the process by hitting the deadline early.
To draw competitive bidders, Connecticut is going to have to start thinking bigger. It also needs to prove it is serious about addressing climate change. One of the pilots is being used by the Bloomfield Board of Education, which could become an appropriate model.
Make no mistake, shared solar will reach us, even if itâ€™s hardly at the speed of light.