Independent gubernatorial candidate Tom Marsh, Chester’s first selectman, leans up against his 1992 Jaguar (“I only put about 3,000 miles a year on it”) convertible, which he bought used and talks energy policy with a couple of reporters. Here’s some of the tape:
“What differentiates me from what I’ve seen, particularly when it comes to energy policy is that I think I have a longer-term view than what I’ve heard and, I think, some more realistic and practical applications to energy policy. One of the candidates (Democrat Dan Malloy) has talked about conservation, saving 15 percent on our usage and that’s laudable and I would support that. But it’s not really practical in the short-term sense on how we’re going to change around our dependence or change the cost of energy delivery in Connecticut….
“We’re not focused on how we want to deliver energy so I think the first thing we have to do is get organized and say how do we want to bring the policies that we want to talk about out to the residential and business community of Connecticut? I think once we get organized, then we have to focus on our outcomes and our outcomes shouldn’t be specific to ‘oh we need green technology’ or ‘we need better transportation initiatives.’ It’s got to be all encompassing because energy touches our economic development, it touches our transportation, touches our quality of life and you develop those outcomes and start building your organization based on those outcomes. One of the things that I think is particularly longer term, is a policy that makes Connecticut more self-sufficient on its energy and by that I mean we spend about $4 billion a year on fuel, fossil fuels, in this state and if we could take that $4 billion, which right now almost all of it leaves the state and start keeping more of that money in the state for other uses by doing some conservation to bring our use down; from cogeneration, which does exist in Connecticut. We do have some cogeneration plants. UConn has a very-efficient cogeneration plant. But right here in Hartford back in the ‘50s, they used cogeneration in an energy district, basically a big steam loop to take some of the waste heat and heat the buildings. That’s a process used all over Europe and really not here in Connecticut. What if we were to take the trash-to-steam plant here or the plant down in Bridgeport?…If the state could assist a city to build that steam loop, to build an energy district and then attract business not by throwing a bunch of money at it and creating a false economy to be here, but to say ‘look, this infrastructure exists. You occupy this building or you build a new facility here and you’re going to get free heating and cooling for the next 50 or 60 years…’ If we can wean ourselves away from some of the fossil fuels and the expenses we’re sending out of state and provide economic assistance to make Connecticut a more-effective place to do business, that’s a long-term solution, not a short-term solution like the tax incentives that we often see are….
“Green design is going to be something that’s going to be here for decades. And Connecticut is already is on the leading edge of that but America as a whole is on the trailing edge behind Europe. But if we can foster greater development in the professional abilities in training and staffing the assets we have in Connecticut, we can build upon that as the whole industry grows. We already have a great education infrastructure, we have some expertise here in the state already and we need to let the world know that if you have an interest in that you need to be here in Connecticut because just as New York is a financial center we can say Connecticut is the center for innovative design and engineering technologies on green buildings.”
Marsh said the town of Chester has just signed on with an electricity provider that will bring down its kilowatt-hour rate by about 15 percent and that there will soon be a link on the town’s website offering taxpayers a chance to join in at the same rate. “In essence the town vetted the company and now we’re saying any homeowner can do it…It should be easily accessible for a Chester resident to click on a link and say ‘I filled this out and now I get 15-percent lower rates.’ So I think we can do that. I’m also chairman of a 17-town consortium. We’re doing the Chester project as a test case. If we can get through three, four months of its working well, we’ll see if we can get even lower rates by spreading it to a 17-town price. As a statewide administration I think we could work more on bringing that down…What really isn’t reported is the add-ons that Connecticut puts on our electric bills are more than what the electric rates are in places like Wyoming and Kentucky. So it’s not the deregulation that’s caused it, it’s a lot of what we’ve done here. And part of it was the promises that were made to the companies that are now building power plants. Ten years ago we had a very serious problem with the availability of power. That problem has decreased quite a bit because there has been a lot of power plant construction. And the construction is here because of the rates we pay. So in essence we provided an incentive for capital investment in the state and now we’ve said thank you for building it, but by the way we’re taking all this away and you’re never going to see a return on your investment. Connecticut can’t have a reputation for doing things like that. I think we are where we are with what we have…As we continue to move forward we can use examples that are here in Connecticut and around the state where there are energy co-ops and again, some of the lowest cost-of-energy states in the country have these co-ops where they’re like quasi-public-owned generation plants. We have one right here in Connecticut: CEEMC out in Norwich and they provide the lowest energy cost in Connecticut for their customers…”