HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) — Gov. Dannel P. Malloy on Friday unveiled an energy policy that promotes increased use of natural gas and improved energy efficiency.
Malloy, who rolled out the new policy in a speech in Cromwell to the state's largest business group, tied together the environment, energy and the economy. Policy makers can make the state more competitive for business by cutting the cost of electricity for homes and businesses, he said.
"The most dramatic element of this strategy is the opportunity presented to us by the increased supply of low-cost domestic natural gas," the Democratic governor said at the Connecticut Business & Industry Association.
A key Republican, Rep. Laura Hoydick, said Malloy's administration briefed lawmakers a few weeks ago about its plan as it seeks bipartisan backing for the proposal. The legislature will have to approve elements of the plan when its 2013 session begins in January.
"Expansion of natural gas is very pragmatic," said Hoydick, the minority party's ranking member of the legislature's Energy and Technology Committee. "It's definitely a way for Connecticut residents and businesses to save some dollars."
But a petroleum trade group criticized the plan, advising Malloy to keep state functions separate from the energy industry.
"State government should stay out of the business of picking winners and losers in the energy markets because ... it has a poor track record of success and ... consumers in a free market make decisions about what they want to buy and from whom, and it is not government's role to take the place of consumers," the Independent Connecticut Petroleum Association said in an emailed statement.
The group represents 600 heating oil and propane retailers with 13,000 employees.
Connecticut AFL-CIO President John Olsen called the plan "good news for working people."
"The Governor's strategy can help drive down electricity and heating bills, which take a real bite out of everyone's wallets every month. It also offers the potential for thousands of good paying new jobs — which we need more than ever," Olsen said in a statement.