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By, Mark Pazniokas ctmirror.com

HARTFORD: A joint venture of TransitAmerica Services and Alternate Concepts was chosen over Amtrak and three other bidders Monday as operator of the Hartford Line, a commuter rail service to New Haven and Springfield that will open next year with a deep federal operating subsidy.

Eighty percent of what the governor’s office says will be a $20 million operating budget will be covered for three years by the federal Congestion Mitigation and Air Quality Improvement Program, which also has subsidized the CTfastrak bus rapid-transit service since it opened in 2015.

170327 Press Rel 08 VejaMateWindfarm Reaches Halfway Installation MilestoneOrange: Avangrid Renewables of Portland , Oregon a subsidiary of Avangrid [NYSE AGR] of New Haven, the parent of United Illuminating has purchased a 50% stake in Vineyard Wind.

Formerly OffShore Wind MW, Vineyard Wind has leased an area of about 160,000 acres, approximately 14 miles from Martha’s Vineyard, where it hopes to develop as much as 1,600 megawatts of wind energy.

Denmark based Copenhagen Infrastructure Partners is the co-owner and has been the lead developer.

Recently, Avangrid Renewables secured an offshore wind lease auction off the coast of North Carolina.  Avangrid which trades on the NYSE is a subsidiary of the international energy giant, Iberdola of Bilbao, Spain.

Avangrid is itself a diversified energy and utility company, with more than $31 billion in assets and operations in 27 states with regulated utilities and electricity generation through two primary lines of business. Avangrid Networks is comprised of eight electric and natural gas utilities, serving approximately 3.2 million customers in New York and New England.

Avangrid Renewables operates 6.5 gigawatts of electricity capacity, primarily through wind power, in 22 states across the United States. AVANGRID employs approximately 6,800 people. 

In late April the CEO of Avangrid Renewables Frank Burkhartsmeyer resigned as president to become chief financial officer at Northwest Natural Gas Company, Laura Beane, previoulsy vice president of operations and maintenance services, was elevated to CEO.

Avangrid’s CEO James Torgerson, was CEO of UIL, before it was acquired by Avangrid, he said the ownership stake in Vineyard Wind — combined with the company’s victory in the first offshore wind lease auction in the United States off the coast of North Carolina — shows that it is “well positioned to grow this sector.”

CIP, which manages approximately $4 billion in assets, acquired Vineyard Wind rights  in August.

Vineyard Wind hopes to begin construction on the project in early 2020. The proposed development timetable demonstrates a shift in wind in Massachusetts for off shore wind development.

Last August, the Baystate’s Republican Governor, Charlie Baker, rejected his party’s long standing opposition to off-shore wind energy power off the Cape when he signed a bill requiring Massachusetts to purchase 1,600 megawatts of offshore wind power.

An earlier development Cape Wind Associates, battled Cape Cod business groups, Republican lawmakers, and even former Senator Ted Kennedy for more than a decade over the project.

In spite of receiving all necessary state and federal approvals, the project stalled over financing issues and now appears dead. Electricity rates procured from Cape Wind were expected to be nearly twice the cost of other electricity generation in the market. The financing problem produced the opportunity for Massachusetts utilities’ National Grid [NYSE: NGG], based in Warwick, UK and Eversource, [NYSE: ES] of Boston to disavow the power purchase agreements, essentially killing the project.

Avantrgrid and Vineyard Wind will be vying for purchase agreements and regulatory approvals with a project proposed by 50-50 partners Dong Energy of Fredericia, Denmark, and Eversource. Dong Energy’s largest private investor is Goldman Sachs owning more than 19% of the company.

The Bay State Wind, proposal is also 15 to 20 miles south of Martha’s Vineyard and it is initially estimated to include 100 wind turbines and cost at least $1 billion. Eversource has committed $10 million to get the project rolling.

Denmark has two important energy distinctions; it has the highest concentration of wind power generation in the world [40% of the country’s consumption] and the highest electricity rates in the world of any advanced country, more than 40 cents per kilowatt.

Wind power advocates say costs for new projects in Europe can now compete more directly with other generation.

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Millstone Nuclear Power Plant

By Jan Ellen Spiegel  ctmirror.com

Hartford: Connecticut’s master plan for energy use and policy is months behind its three-year update, and now the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection says it will not be ready in time for legislators to consider this session.

The lack a Comprehensive Energy Strategy (CES) leaves lawmakers, in their final few weeks of the legislative session, without policy guidance on a number of energy issues — most critically and controversially, whether to give competitive help to the Millstone Nuclear Power Station.

With TV ads and ferocious lobbying on both sides of the issue after tight committee votes — especially in the Appropriations Committee, where a plan to help Millstone barely survived 23-21 — it’s unclear whether any Millstone legislation will survive; and, if it does, whether it will do more than authorize a study. Lack of an energy strategy putting Millstone in the context of broader long-term energy policies isn’t helping matters.

Dealers Are Charging Up to Challenge Tesla  - with Cars Too
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The DMV report says Tesla's Greenwich showroom violated Connecticut's auto sales law.
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BMW is expected to make a near total committmen to electric vehicles in the next ten years.
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The All-electric Chevy Bolt is expected to sell more than 20,000 units in 2017.

By Mitchell Young

Hartford: The battle between The Connecticut Automotive Retailers Association and Tesla is being waged on a new front.

Tesla with the support of legislators from both the Republican and Democratic parties is seeking the right to sell cars direct to the public.

Tesla currently operates showrooms in Greenwich and Milford and has “supercharging” stations in West Hartford and Darien.

Currently in Connecticut and several other states, auto manufacturers must utilize dealers to sell their cars. The dealers argue this has created significant competition and service advantages for consumers and that if sales were allowed directly by the manufacturer, competition, prices and services would suffer.

Tesla has argued the unique nature of their electric automobiles, technology and company make selling through dealers untenable and a “conflict of interest” for the dealers that will mostly sell internal combustion engine vehicles.. Under current Connecticut law, Tesla customers can visit showrooms but can’t process the sale at the location.

Tesla has gathered support from environmental groups that see the laws protecting local franchises as harming the environment. Daniel Gatti is a blogger for the Union of Concerned Scientists that “specializes in transportation policy in the Northeast,” he  claims in a recent article that auto dealers in the Northeast aren’t doing a good job selling their “electric” vehicles.

Gatting writes that “between January and June of 2016, dealers in the Bridgeport to New York City metro area had 90 percent fewer EVs listed for sale than Oakland, when adjusted for relative car ownership.”

He added, a recent report by the Sierra Club found that Tesla stores provide EV customers with far superior service, as Tesla was more likely to have EVs available to test drive, more likely to be knowledgeable about state and local incentives, and more likely to be able to correctly answer technical questions about charging EVs, than traditional car dealerships.”

By Mark Pazniokas Ctmirror.org

Gina McCarthy official portraitHartford: Gov. Dannel P. Malloy engaged in some high-level recycling Monday, bringing back Gina McCarthy to serve on the Board of Directors of the Connecticut Green Bank.

McCarthy was the commissioner of environmental protection in Connecticut under Malloy’s predecessor, Gov. M. Jodi Rell, before going to Washington to serve as the administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency under President Obama. She also was an environmental official in Massachusetts under Gov. Mitt Romney.

mob 1 cr smMilford: Northeast Fisheries Science Center's Milford Laboratory has developed a “Man Overboard” rescue Device. The device is the invention of Robert Alix, captain of the Lab’s 49-foot research vessel Victor Loosanoff, and Werner Schreiner, a former deck hand on the boat, developed the Man Overboard Recovery device, or MOB, and a U.S. patent is pending. The rights belong to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), the parent organization of NOAA Fisheries.

“We thought it would be useful and could save lives, especially on small boats that usually have a small crew,” said Alix, who came up with the idea with Werner about five years ago during safety training in local waters.  “It is hard enough to get a person who is conscious and cooperative into a boat with high freeboard, but much harder if the person is unconscious and cannot help in their own rescue.”

SLAM Belimo 300x200Danbury:  BELIMO headquartered in Hinwil Switzerland has more than 1400 employees world wide and it emphasizes sustainability and energy efficiency for actuators, control valves and sensors. The company’s BELIMO Americas it’s North American headquarters has just received LEED Gold Certification for its new 195,000 square foot facility  “perched on a 34-acre site.”

Designed by The S/L/A/M Collaborative (SLAM) of Glastonbury, the facility comprises 129,000 square feet of logistics and manufacturing space, 15,000 square feet for test labs, and 51,000 square feet of office space across three stories.

Gregory Stroud 1 336x362Greg Stroud is a quiet, thoughtful academic with limited experience in civic engagement, but he transformed into a relentless community organizer and grass-roots lobbyist after learning of a proposal from Washington, D.C., aimed at boosting the speed and capacities of trains in the Northeast Corridor.

That proposal from the Federal Railroad Administration included construction of a bypass from Old Saybrook to Rhode Island that would have resulted in running high-speed trains through his town of Old Lyme — a plan he says would ruin the artist colony’s historical nature and unique culture.