Money To Burn: CL & P, UI Have Millions In Energy-Efficiency Funds To Offer

Posted by in Environment

DDR 2178 - Energy Conservation
Image by 80sAustin via Flickr

By LYNN DOAN, The Hartford Courant

Late last year, Connecticut Light & Power Co. was desperate for energy conservation money.

Several programs it runs for the state, which pay for power-saving improvements from lightbulbs in homes to tinted windows in office parks, were oversubscribed. The company had promised $10 million it didn’t have to companies seeking energy subsidies, and was forced to borrow from this year’s budget.

Suddenly, everything turned upside down.

The federal government awarded Connecticut $39 million in stimulus money for energy-efficiency programs. Millions of dollars in proceeds from the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative began flowing into the energy-efficiency programs administered by CL&P and United Illuminating Co.

And the state’s energy-conservation fund, which state legislators raided years ago to plug other budget gaps, is being replenished.

CL&P now has $20 million in energy-efficiency money to hand out by the end of the year. Its southwestern Connecticut counterpart, UI, has about $25 million to burn.

The only problem now: They aren’t getting a lot of takers.

“It’s the state of the economy. People are just watching their pennies right now,” said Ron Araujo, who directs energy conservation funding for CL&P. “And it’s too bad, because we’ve got a lot of room.”

Most of the company’s programs require recipients to invest some of their own money. Home Energy Solutions, which sends an energy auditor into your home to check for inefficiencies like air leaks and power-wasting lightbulbs, costs most homeowners $75. The Small Business Energy Advantage program will subsidize things like programmable thermostats, but requires the company to pick up a percentage of the costs.

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