Connecticut has acquired a dubious reputation as a tough place to do business. We've pursued a range of initiatives to reverse that perception, but few are as important as reducing the cost of doing business by addressing high energy costs.

The governor has recently announced sweeping changes as part of the new Comprehensive Energy Strategy. One of the pillars of that strategy is broadscale energy conservation. The state has already achieved significant savings in state buildings and has offered incentives for homeowners to reduce energy consumption via sensible conservation measures.

Now the initiative has expanded to encompass commercial properties as well. Last year, the legislature created a robust C-PACE (Commercial Property Assessed Clean Energy) program for business owners, which makes investing in energy saving and clean energy improvements affordable through low-cost financing, and spread the costs of doing so over a period of years.

The new law requires each municipality to embrace the program by agreeing to partner with the state's program authority, the Clean Energy Finance and Investment Authority, in the simple administration of program requirements. First Selectman Gordon Joseloff supports bringing the program to Westport and will ask the Representative Town Meeting to approve the agreement early next year.

The town's role is to facilitate repayment of the financing of the investment via the business's property tax bill, over a period as long as twenty years. A lien is placed on the business's property to secure the financing. The lien remains on the property until the loan is repaid, even if the land is sold. CEFIA compensates the municipality for its expenses and handles all other administrative aspects, including the financing.

What's in it for Westport? We support our local businesses by helping them reduce energy costs and make the town more attractive to other businesses, potentially expanding our grand list. Furthermore, we help Connecticut reduce its energy consumption overall, which leads to lower energy costs and reduces harmful emissions.

As a member of the legislature's Energy and Technology Committee, I'm proud to represent a community in the forefront of responsible energy and environmental innovation. With the state's new C-PACE program, we can help Westport's businesses follow the same path.

For more information on the C-PACE program, go to .

State Rep. Jonathan Steinberg