Change Solar Regulations To Achieve Climate Goals

A key goal of Connecticut’s climate change mitigation plan is to “decarbonize the electricity sector” by 2040. This will require, among other measures, rapid expansion of solar power, which now accounts for 2.5% of the electricity produced in our state. The challenge is daunting. So far, we are not on track to meet it.

But a key opportunity lies in the vast square footage of commercial rooftops and parking lots. So let’s do it, right?

Unfortunately, state regulations currently place a 50 MW cap on new commercial solar projects and the Shared Clean Energy Facilities (SCEF) program is capped at 25 MW. SCEF allows low- and moderate-income ratepayers to own part of a solar system and enjoy the economic benefits. These two caps, together, permit only 78,000 megawatt hours of solar electricity to be added each year. That is less than .2% (two-tenths of one percent) of the electricity generated in Connecticut — hardly a path to decarbonize the grid.

Read the entire article in the CT Mirror

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Newfield Corridor Trail Options Being Explored

A study to determine the best route for the Newfield Corridor Trail is underway. Design and construction of the trail was funded by the 2015 Parks Bond, and assigned a budget of $4 million. This multi-use bikeway will be an extension of the Mattabesset Bike Trail southward from Tuttle Road to Veterans Park. (To access a Google Map of the Newfield Corridor Trail options that you can zoom in on to see details, click here.)

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Middletown Open Space Purchases 2019 – 2021

By Elisabeth Holder – Chair of the Acquisition Committee of the Middletown Commission on Conservation & Agriculture

Since the $5-million-dollar Open Space Bond was passed by voters in 2019, about three quarters of the money has been spent to acquire properties. Middletown’s Commission on Conservation and Agriculture has been inspecting properties for sale using a 14-point criteria evaluation while balancing costs and benefits to Middletown residents.  Each property was assessed using the same criteria, such as the presence of aquifers and water bodies, distance to high-density census tracts, and suitability for different kinds of recreation. Once a total score has been tallied, the properties with the highest scores were appraised, and discussions were pursued with the owners regarding possible purchase by the city. Whenever possible, grants and additional funding sources were used to offset the purchase cost.

In the last two years about 275 acres have been added to the 1,100 acres of open space in Middletown that had been preserved in previous years. This represents a 26% increase in conservation lands. Continue reading

Butternut Street & Park Accessibility Improvements

Governor Lamont has announced that improvements to Middletown’s Butternut Street and Park will be funded in the amount of $580,000 through the CT DOT Community Connectivity grants program. Phases 1 and 2 of the project include a sidewalk from West Street to the park and completion of a paved walking trail around Butternut Pond for park users. Phase 3 of the plan (which may not be fully funded by this grant) calls for a realignment of Thomas Street to allow for a larger parking lot, needed because the recently improved park attracts many users.

Middletown’s Complete Streets Committee and the Jonah Center began advocating for this project several years ago, since Butternut Street has no sidewalk even though the park is heavily used. Butternut Street links the Wesleyan campus and West Street. This is a priority area in the city’s Complete Streets Master Plan. The Governor’s Press Release on this and other projects can be found here.