NOTE: Year 3 of the competitive solicitation for the program ended on February 2015, next round is anticipated to be opened on April, 2015.
In July 2011, Connecticut enacted legislation amending the state's Renewables Portfolio Standard and creating two new classes of renewable energy credits (RECs): Zero Emission Renewable Energy Credits (ZRECs) and Low Emission Renewable Energy Credits (LRECs).
The state's two investor-owned electric utilities, United Illuminating (UI) and Connecticut Light & Power (CL&P) must enter into 15-year contracts for RECs from zero-emission "Class I" renewable energy facilities (on the customer side of the meter) larger than 100 kilowatts (kW) but not larger than one megawatt (MW). Zero-emission Class I facilities include solar, wind and hydro generators. Resulting zero emission RECs (ZRECs) may be used for RPS compliance during the year of generation or the subsequent year. Utilities are required to spend $8 million on ZREC contracts annually.* The price cap of one ZREC in 2012 was $350 and $325.50 in 2013. The Connecticut Public Utilities Regulatory Authority (PURA) may reduce the ZREC price cap annually by 3% to 7%.
The two utilities also must enter into 15-year contracts for RECs from low-emission Class I renewable energy facilities (on the customer side of the meter) up to 2 MW. The law establishes “low-emission facility” status for facilities that produce no more than 0.07 pounds per MWh of nitrogen oxides, 0.10 pounds per MWh of carbon monoxide, 0.02 pounds per MWh of volatile organic compounds, and one grain per 100 standard cubic feet. This category could include facilities that generate electricity using fuel cells, biomass or landfill gas. Resulting low-emission RECs (LRECs) may be used for RPS compliance during the year of generation or the subsequent year. Utilities are required to spend up to $4 million on LREC contracts annually.*
The utilities jointly submitted their six-year solicitation plan in December 2011 and issued their first request for proposals (RFP) in May 2012. Winning bids are evaluated based on project quality, proposed ZREC or LREC price, and compliance with the RFP process. Bids are submitted online. Projects must be located in CL&P's or UI's service territory.
* PURA is authorized to review this budget and make adjustments after Year 3 for LRECs and Year 4 for ZRECs. It may terminate the program entirely if technology costs do not continue to fall. Because the utilities must spend $8 million per year on new 15-year ZREC contracts and $4 million per year on new 15-year LREC contracts, the total value of the annual solicitation is $120 million for ZRECs and $60 million for LRECs.