Commissioner Dan Esy said the state is planning better on energy.
It is also looking to ensure the state has enough capacity to generate power.
Shaving the peak loads can save money, Esty said, because it costs a lot to have “dirty, old plants” that can kick in on high use days.
“This state has underinvested in replacing wires, replacing poles,” Esty said. Nearly half the wires in the state are not coated, he said, and some poles undersized.
The new deal with Northeast Utilities will help, he said, to create “a more resilient system.”
The goal is to make sure the next big storm doesn’t have the same impact. One way of fending off the problem is to create microgrids so that at least key institutions and downtowns have power, he said.
Microgrids would be “an island within the greater sea” of the entire grid, he said.
Bristol could be one of the pilot areas, he said, “to isolate and protect those critical infrastructure elements,” he said.
He said the state also has to invest more in energy efficiency. Containing demand is part of the equation, Esty said.
Investing in energy conservation in state buildings is part of the answer, he said.
A lot of older housing stock would really benefit from efficiency efforts, he said, especially among lower income and senior housing where a lot of savings is possible. It’s not just lighting, he said, it’s also air conditioning, heating, windows and more. It can save up to 40 percent of the use.
Esty said a wider power supply would also help protect against cost spikes and changing economics.
“We need to be more diverse in the state of Connecticut,” he said, that includes renewable power. He said the goal is to create a platform “for the entrepreneurial spirit to play out.”
Esty said the state is taking many steps to bring clean, renewable power.
“Fuel cells need to compete with everybody else,” Esty said. Unless they become cheaper, they’ll have a tough time, he said.
“I’d like to facilitate a race” among different sources to bring down costs and deliver scale, he said.
Innovation and bringing down costs is crucial.
Fossil fuels are in the mix, he said, “but they have to become cleaner.”
Nuclear power, too, “could be the winner” if it can solve safety and disposal problems.
Corn-based ethanol “is a joke of a policy,” Esty said. There is almost no benefit, he said, and pushes up the price of food.
He called ethanol “a disaster” that occurs only because of the Iowa caucuses every four years, Esty said.