HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) — A federal appeals court ruled Tuesday that Connecticut electricity ratepayers have no right to challenge the state when it redirects fees they pay for increased energy efficiency to state coffers to help balance the state budget.
A three-judge panel of the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in New York said that although a 1998 Connecticut law created the fees to fund programs to help low- and moderate-income families save money on energy bills through energy audits and energy efficiency improvements, the state is not contractually required to spend the fee revenues on the programs.
The ruling came in a 2018 lawsuit filed by a coalition of environmental groups and other plaintiffs. They said then-Gov. Dannel Malloy and legislators illegally used $145 million from the energy efficiency fees to help reduce state budget deficits in the 2018 and 2019 fiscal years. The fees also fund green energy projects.
The decision upheld a 2018 ruling by U.S. District Judge Janet Hall in New Haven. Hall said there was nothing to indicate the state entered into a contract with the plaintiffs on how the energy funds would be used.
The Connecticut Fund for the Environment, now known as Save the Sound, and other groups argued the state unlawfully seized the energy funds, violating a contract between utilities and their customers on using the fees for energy efficiency and green energy.