Governor Ned Lamont signed the third executive order of his administration Tuesday, setting an ambitious environmental goal, a zero carbon energy grid by 2040.
Lamont’s order directs the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection to evaluate ways to transition to a totally clean electric grid over the next two decades.
“By moving to wind, and solar, and renewables, that means it’s now locally based. Locally controlled. We’re no longer at a disadvantage compared to our peers,” Lamont said during a forum at DEEP’s Hartford headquarters on Tuesday.
“This is not only about a carbon-free future, it’s also about our economic sustainability,” Lamont said. “Right now, we’re at the end of all the lines when it comes to natural gas and oil. It costs us a fortune.”
For the past decade, Connecticut’s residential electric customers have paid bills that are among the highest in the continental United States.
Last month, DEEP began soliciting proposals for up to 2,000 megawatts of offshore wind, which is the state’s first wind-only RFP.
Lamont’s order also expands the Governor’s Council on Climate Change, which was set up by former Governor Dannel Malloy in 2015. It adds new members focused on issues like health, equity, and environmental justice.
The order will also require the Council to file annual reports, detailing its progress toward a-nearer-term greenhouse gas reduction goal of 45 percent below 2001 levels by 2030.
In a flurry of emailed statements Tuesday afternoon, the order was praised by environmentalists.
“This order recognizes that combating climate change requires ongoing planning and innovation,” said Charles Rothenberger, climate and energy attorney for Connecticut Fund for the Environment/Save the Sound.
“We were thrilled to hear that Connecticut is moving closer to a zero-carbon future and that the Lamont administration is taking the issue of climate change seriously,” said Lori Brown, executive director of the Connecticut League of Conservation Voters. “Under Governor Malloy, the [Council on Climate Change] made carbon reduction a priority, but many important stakeholders and community leaders were left without a seat at the table. We are thrilled to see this revamped committee will include experts in environmental justice and equity as well as more community inclusion.”