GOLDRICK: Fiorello is no friend to the Environment

Sean Goldrick served two terms on the BET and lives in Riverside

Kimberly Fiorello is not just the anti-environment and anti-clean energy candidate, she also invents “facts” to back up her anti-environment views.

In her recent oped, “Bureaucracy in way of improving CT power woes,”  the Republican candidate for state representative in the 149th district (back country Greenwich, western and northern Stamford) claims, “We need to look in the mirror,” and ask why “we have been voting these folks into office year after year… who have been busy…forcing Connecticut residents and businesses to pay some of the highest electricity rates in the country.”

Fiorello lists six bills she blames for the high cost of electricity in Connecticut.  

But there’s a problem: not only was every bill she blames for raising electricity rates strongly supported by General Assembly Republicans, but every Greenwich-based Republican legislator voted for all six bills (Livvy Floren missed two votes) as well.  Indeed, the bill topping her list, 2018’s “Act Concerning Connecticut’s Energy Future,” was co-sponsored by Greenwich’s then-Republican state senator Scott Frantz and Republican state representative Livvy Floren, whom Fiorello is campaigning to succeed. 

While it increased the goal for renewable energy to 40% from 20%, that GOP-backed bill also included major curbs on the growth of residential solar that benefited Eversource, forcing homeowners to sell all of their solar power output to Eversource at wholesale rates, while purchasing electricity at retail rates.  

The 2017 bill she criticizes, “An Act Concerning Zero Carbon Solicitation and Procurement,” provided major subsidies to Millstone for its high-cost nuclear power, and was forced through by General Assembly Republicans over Democratic opposition.   The bill raised electric rates by handing Millstone $300 million in annual ratepayer subsidies, borne entirely by Connecticut ratepayers.

Fiorello claims that 2011’s “Act Concerning the Establishment of the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection,” DEEP, “took a lean five-person energy planning department under the Office of Policy and Management (OPM) in 2010 and supersized it into a booming new bureaucracy at DEEP with current headcount of more than 700 state employees.”  In fact, OPM’s spokesman could find no records of such a department, and a spokesman for DEEP responded: “DEEP’s Bureau of Energy and Technology Policy, composed of 30 staff members, manages local, state and regional energy policy issues with the goal of establishing a clean, economical and reliable energy future for all Connecticut residents.”  Not only is Fiorello’s entire claim unfounded, GOP legislators overwhelmingly supported the bill.  Indeed, far from creating a “booming new bureaucracy,” that bill was part of Democratic Governor Dannel Malloy’s dramatic streamlining of state government, which reduced the number of state agencies and departments from 81 to 57, and cut state government staffing back to the level of the mid-1970’s.  

Fiorello asserts that, “Connecticut no longer participates in the wholesale market for power in the same way it once did as part of the six-state regional grid under ISO-New England. Our state is going it alone more, contracting directly with government-favored green energy producers, leading to higher prices paid by ratepayers.”  In fact, DEEP’s spokesman confirms that Connecticut has not pulled out of ISO-New England, the regional power cooperative, though it is considering doing so.  Attorney General William Tong charged that ISO-NE has evaded the competitive bidding process, claiming, “restoring competition to this broken system could save ratepayers millions of dollars while also opening doors to improved energy efficiency and use of renewable technologies.”  So it is ISO-NE that is raising electric rates to Connecticut ratepayers by blocking green energy, not Fiorello’s fictional withdrawal.  

Asking “what happened to all the money we already send to Hartford?”, Fiorello claims that “a governmental green bank investing in green ideas” is to blame for “driving up electric bills.”  

Once again, Fiorello gets her facts wrong.  Indeed, Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government awarded Connecticut Green Bank its “Innovations in American Government Award” in 2017, crediting it for “sparking the green bank movement.” Harvard praised Connecticut Green Bank for “demonstrating how public resources can be better directed in ways that mobilize private investment in local green economies. From greater deployment of green energy by local contractors to lowering consumers’ energy burden, the Green Bank is committed to realizing a vision of inclusive prosperity through its charge to protect the environment.”  

So, far from “driving up electric bills,” Connecticut Green Bank has proven the model that states across the country are emulating  to attract more private investment in their growing green economies.

Let’s recall Fiorello’s anti-environment votes as a member of Greenwich’s legislative body, the RTM: against banning single-use plastic bags, and against a ban on the transport of toxic fracking waste across Greenwich.  

It’s clear that candidate Fiorello is not only anti-environment and and anti-clean energy, but makes up “facts” to support her anti-environment views. Connecticut needs legislators who will protect the environment and promote renewable green energy.  Fiorello’s not one of them.

Editor’s note: Letters to the Editor in support of local candidates in the Nov 3, 2020 election may be submitted to [email protected] for consideration beginning July 15 and with a hard deadline of Oct 26, 2020 at noon.