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Bill SB 999 was signed by Governor Ned Lamont on June 14, 2021. The Bill is a collection of reforms expected to increase wages and heighten employment opportunities among the state’s renewable energy sector. The laws are inline with similar workforce initiatives like The Wage Theft Bill In New York on the horizon aimed at creating fair working conditions and pay across both union and open shop companies.
Bill SB 999 requires renewable energy project developers to pay all employees including maintenance workers and security, “at least the prevailing wage”.
Solar companies took offense to the language utilized in the legislation, questioning why prevailing wage rules would now be included in the private renewable energy division. Groups such as Solar Connecticut remain in opposition to the bill and have since pressured the governor to veto the act.
Mike Trahan, Solar Connecticut Executive Director, has made the claim that the reform is in violation of the 14th Amendment which protects private contracts. Trahan states that SB 999 merely accelerates the cost of commercial solar and such intrusion by the state government between a private company and a private client is unforgivable.
The law also obligates renewable energy companies that receive state assistance to partake in a “community benefits agreement”. This would include the company demonstrating how a proposed project would aid the community and provide opportunities for local workers and businesses.
Workforce development and training programs have also been included in the legislation with the goal of enlisting individuals from areas of high rates of poverty and unemployment, individuals with disabilities, those who have been incarcerated, and minority groups.
Democrats and labor groups believe SB 999 will positively benefit underprivileged communities with Connecticut being in the midst of a green energy revolution. Solar energy firms rebuke these beliefs stating that such regulations will cause projects to be more expensive. As reported by news outlets, Lee Hoffman, an attorney at Pullman & Comley claims that Connecticut will suffer tremendously in comparison to other states.
Bill 999 defines a “Covered project” as a renewable energy project that is situated on land in CT, commences construction on or after July 1, 2021, and has a total nameplate capacity of two megawatts or more. Connecticut already has a very controlled effort over solar projects. More information can be found here: https://bylt.news/connecticut-solar-and-wind-power-2021-outlook/
Co-sponsors of SB-999
Rep. David Michel, 146th Dist.Rep. Michael A. Winkler, 56th Dist.Rep. Anne M. Hughes, 135th Dist.Sen. Marilyn V. Moore, 22nd Dist.Rep. Antonio Felipe, 130th Dist.Sen. Julie Kushner, 24th Dist.Rep. Mary M. Mushinsky, 85th Dist.Rep. Anthony L. Nolan, 39th Dist.Rep. Bobby G. Gibson, 15th Dist.Rep. Frank Smith, 118th Dist.Sen. Matthew L. Lesser, 9th Dist.Rep. Jane M. Garibay, 60th Dist.Sen. Jorge Cabrera, 17th Dist.Rep. Juan R. Candelaria, 95th Dist.Rep. Robyn A. Porter, 94th Dist.Rep. Josh Elliott, 88th Dist.Rep. Jillian Gilchrest, 18th Dist.Sen. Rick Lopes, 6th Dist.Sen. Saud Anwar, 3rd Dist.Rep. Kate Farrar, 20th Dist.Rep. Quentin W. Phipps, 100th Dist.Rep. Philip L. Young, 120th Dist.Rep. John “Jack” F. Hennessy, 127th Dist.Rep. Tom Delnicki, 14th Dist.Rep. Andre F. Baker, 124th Dist.Rep. Larry B. Butler, 72nd Dist.Rep. John-Michael Parker, 101st Dist.