The Clean Water Blog

Protecting the Connecticut Green Bank

After countless false starts and impasses, Connecticut’s bipartisan budget still contains a catastrophic flaw: it raids $10 million per year from the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI) and $13 million from the CT Green Bank, both big enough money grabs to disable these critical institutions. 

Hear voices from Connecticut explain the critical importance of these funds in two videos made by Clean Water Action national board member Andy Bauer:

Green Funds I

Green Funds II

At a press conference of statewide organizations convened by Citizens Campaign for the Environment and hosted by Rep. Mike Demmico, I was asked to make closing remarks.  Allies had already made the strategic arguments, so I went for a personal story.

Six years ago I moved into my elderly mother’s house in Enfield, a little Cape built in 1961 that initially sold for $11,000. In those days, houses were built with the second floors unfinished for the occupants to work on as they could afford it. Twenty percent of Enfield residents have made use of the Clean Energy funds for home assessments to improve their homes and stabilize their finances.

Soon after I arrived, I made sure Mom got one of those energy audits. For almost free, we got lighting upgrades, air sealing, rebates on new appliances, and detailed recommendations that have guided our investments in a more efficient home.

Today, we’ve gone farther to have solar panels, air source heat pumps, and soon an electric car.  Mom is proud. The neighbors think it’s cool. Our budget is stabilized. The state’s energy efficiency funds have supported these choices for us and many others.  

These funds are unique. Rather than direct aid that has to be given over and over, they are designed to help people need less. They are an economic stabilizer for residents, businesses and government itself.

These days, Mom has a caregiver – Elvira from Puerto Rico. As the hurricane pounded the island last week, Elvira drew us into her Facetime with family, relieved that they were OK. But every day she shows me the street scenes and shares stories about people whose water is running out.  And I understand that the action we take to slow climate change is not just for the convenience and economics of our more comfortable communities. It’s even more important than that.

One by one, environmental advocates at the press conference made insightful economic arguments about the Clean Energy Funds. They only mentioned the environmental imperative – which is also a moral imperative. There are public goods worth investing in, and tackling climate change is one of them. To come up with a strategy for closing Connecticut’s budget deficit over time, we need a discussion that is less about positions and more about values – like the frugality and self-reliance of my neighbors that – sometimes – smart state investment supports.