Crime & Public Safety, Environment

CT Government Weekly Rundown—September 3

  • Sep 03, 2013
  • Alexandra Forrester

DEEP Proposes Higher Energy Rates to Fund Efficiency Investments

Energy prices are on track to significantly rise for the next three years, pending Public Utilities Regulatory Authority approval of a new Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (DEEP) program aimed at increasing energy efficiency. The DEEP proposal would increase Conservation Adjustment Management fees on energy bills, doubling the electricity fee to $4.50 per month and tripling the gas fee to $7 per month. The higher rates would be used to fund residential and commercial energy efficiency investments, such as rebates for the purchase of energy efficient home products and retrofitting buildings to make them more energy efficient.  Environmental organizations predict significant future returns from those investments, estimating that consumers and businesses currently lose $400 million annually in energy waste that would be mitigated by the program.

What it means for you: CT’s energy prices declined in the first few months of this year, but a recent report has shown that they are rising once again. The DEEP proposal will likely save consumers money in the long-term by reducing energy consumption, but these savings will come at a short-term cost with higher rates.  Connecticut already has some of the highest electricity rates in the northeast and the country.

Medical Marijuana Implementation Begins

This past Tuesday, August 27th, a Connecticut Review Committee approved regulations for the production, sale, and use, of medical marijuana within the state. These regulations specify implementation guidelines for the bill passed in May that legalized medical marijuana in Connecticut. Within the next two weeks Connecticut’s consumer protection agency will begin reviewing applications for producers and dispensaries, and licenses will be awarded by the beginning of next year. The new regulations limit Connecticut medical marijuana to licensed in-state producers and dispensaries and limit the number of licensed producers to between 3 and 10 and the number of dispensaries to between 3 and 5.  They also require application and licensing fees amounting to $3 million for producers, and $6,000 for dispensaries.Federal law still prohibits marijuana consumption for both recreational and medical uses, but the U.S. Department of Justice released a memo on Thursday announcing that it would not interfere with states that have legalized strictly regulated marijuana use.  The federal enforcement decision would not be binding on future administrations should they decide to more strictly enforce federal marijuana laws.

What it means for you: Connecticut residents with a valid prescription should be able to start purchasing medical marijuana sometime next year.  The limited number of producers and dispensaries combined with high licensing fees means medical marijuana in Connecticut is likely to be quite expensive.  The future of the industry beyond 2016 is also uncertain if federal enforcement policies change.

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