The Connecticut General Assembly reconvened last week for a special session held over two days. They addressed a number of issues, wrapping up their final efforts before voters head to the polls on Election Day, Nov. 3, 2020.
Among the bills approved were two pieces of legislation that are expected to be signed into law by Governor Ned Lamont. Here's what you need to know:
HB 7006: Dubbed the "Take Back Our Grid Act," the bill was overwhelmingly passed in the House by a 136-4 vote and in the Senate by a 35-0 vote (with one abstention). The bill is the direct result of the power outages and restoration issues experienced by customers of Eversource Energy following Tropical Storm Isaias. The legislation states that not only Eversource but any power distribution company will be required to credit customers $25 a day and reimburse them $250 for spoiled food and medicine if they are without power for four days (96 hours). The bill also requires more reliable staffing levels for responding to storms.
In addition, the bill directs state regulators to put in place a performance-based system for determining distribution rates for electricty, and requires any additional costs related to meeting the requirements of the bill be paid for by shareholders and not ratepayers.
Eversource has said the legislation was not necessary because a regulatory process to review its storm response is still ongoing, and that the result of the legislation would be increased rates.
HB 7001: This bill finally revises the state's burdensome Transfer Act, making it easier to develop commercial & industrial properties that are significantly less contaminated than brownfields. The bill, in fact, sunsets the Transfer Act and sets up a release-based system that will simplify the way liability for contamination of properties is assessed as they are sold.
As Senator Joan Hartley, D-Waterbury, told ctnewsjunkie.com: “When a property was sold, if there had been certain activities involving hazardous waste materials and so forth, then (the Transfer Act) would be triggered just by virtue of the sale, whether or not there was a significant environmental hazard that existed....”
Ctnewsjunkie.com added that "Hartley said the process was so 'expensive and time consuming' that properties couldn’t get developed, which meant they sat vacant and municipalities were unable to collect property taxes. She said many developers would ask if a site fell under the Transfer Act, and if the answer was in the affirmative, 'many times they would walk away.'"
In facct, Rep. Caroline Simmons, D-Stamford, co-chair of the Commerce Committee, told CTMirror.org that 4,200 properties are in limbo due to the Transfer Act. The website reported that Simmons called the new bill pro-environmental protection and pro-economic growth, because it frees some properties for sale and focuses more attention on “high-risk properties.”
Revising and/or eliminating the Transfer Act was an important part of the Chamber's 2020 Legislative & Regional Agenda, so we are excited that this burdensome regulation is finally being addressed in a positive way.