A good bill to get more clean energy into Connecticut has been held up in the House. That's too bad. The House should pass the bill, which has already passed the Senate. It would likely lower Connecticut's sky-high electric rates while decreasing the state's reliance on fossil fuels.
Under current law, 20 percent of the state's energy must come from renewable sources, such as wind and solar, by 2020. Under the pending bill, if power companies can't find enough renewables to buy, then the state could fill a portion of the requirement with large-scale hydroelectric power.
Letting hydropower step in, if the quota from wind, solar and other clean-energy sources can't be met, is sensible. After all, water is a renewable resource.
Some environmentalists are calling foul, out of fear that the bill would discourage investment in wind and solar projects.
But this compromise simply lets hydropower help the state reach its clean-energy goals. Global warming is making the development of alternatives to fossil fuels urgent.
With this legislation, wind, solar and other renewable power companies would get the state commitment they need to expand. Their costs would come down, making them more competitive with traditional energy sources, such as natural gas.
One reason the bill may have been held up is political. Dan Esty, the commissioner of the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection, reportedly irritated some lawmakers by briefing investors in a conference call about the bill before he briefed them. Lawmakers should forgive the faux pas and pass the bill.
A leading environmentalist has called the bill a sweetheart deal for Northeast Utilities, which wants to build a transmission line for Hydro-Quebec through New Hampshire. The governor of New Hampshire is concerned about the line running through pristine parts of her state.
But Mr. Esty made clear, in the call with investors, that "we expect to run an effective bidding process that would allow not only Hydro-Quebec but the Maritime Provinces and perhaps others to compete for long-term contracts." There would be open competition for the contract.
One more thought: This state gets almost half of its electric power from nuclear plants. The online financial news operation 24/7 Wall Street has ranked Connecticut sixth among states most reliant on nuclear power. The Millstone station won't last forever, however, and new nuclear plants are highly unlikely here.
It's wise to get other dependable sources of power up and running as soon as possible. Renewables can't come online fast enough.