New Green Jobs in Bridgeport
Earlier this month, I was pleased to tour the facilities of SolarChange, a new solar panel manufacturing company in Bridgeport that will soon be adding 31 fulltime jobs.
SolarChange manufactures multiple solar energy products at its Bridgeport facility, including prefabricated hybrid-solar roof panels that use the sun’s rays to heat the building, produce hot water, and generate electricity.
These panels can cover all or part of a residential roof, and will soon be available at a cost comparable to a regular, non-powered roof—a huge breakthrough in pricing for the renewable energy industry.
SolarChange is the latest company to benefit from the Small Business Express Program which was established in the bipartisan Jobs Bill I supported last year. The company will receive a $100,000 matching grant and a loan of $250,000 from the state Department of Economic & Community Development.
This assistance will help SolarChange to expand its operations, move into a larger building, and hire 31 new employees. Since the company works closely with other companies for installation and service of their products, their success should create jobs at other firms as well.
It is very encouraging to see a new manufacturing company take root here locally, especially in such an important and innovative industry as renewable energy.
State Unemployment Rate is
Lowest in Three Years
The state Labor Department has just reported that Connecticut’s unemployment rate is continuing to decline, falling to 7.7 percent in March, the lowest level in three years. That compares favorably to the national unemployment rate of 8.2 percent.
A year ago in March of 2011, the state’s unemployment rate stood at 9.1 percent. The latest figures suggest that since the beginning of this year, Connecticut has added 10,500 nonfarm jobs.
The private sector in Connecticut has reclaimed 46,600—or 42.3 percent—of the private sector jobs lost over the 23 months that technically defined the national recession.
This is some good news, but it’s just a snapshot in time. I am committed to doing even more this year to grow jobs and further improve Connecticut’s economy.
Bringing Relief at the Pump
As gas prices continue to climb, we must do all we can help consumers find relief at the pump. Last month, I joined my colleagues in the Senate in passing a comprehensive plan that caps the gross receipts tax by applying it to only the first $3 a gallon when gas is sold on the wholesale market.
More importantly, our plan strengthens protections against price gouging, cracks down on oil profiteering, and requires that savings from the cap on the gross receipts tax get passed along to consumers.
The bill, which passed unanimously, will provide some modest relief to consumers. I now urge our federal delegation to take action to crack down on oil speculation and market manipulation on Wall Street to bring down gas prices even further.
- Puts a permanent circuit breaker on the gross receipts tax on motor fuels at $3.00 per gallon wholesale.
- Prohibits oil wholesalers and distributors (those who pay the gross receipts tax) from passing on anything purporting to be based on the tax for the portion of any sales price over $3.00 per gallon.
- Legislatively declares a 30-day period of petroleum market scrutiny by the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection and the Department of Consumer Protection in anticipation of further wholesale price spikes.
- Amends the petroleum profiteering statute to provide for investigations of price gouging whenever the wholesale price rises by 15 percent or more within 90 days.
- Grants the commissioner of the Department of Consumer Protection authority to impose Unfair Trade Practice fines on large gasoline wholesalers and distributors who are in violation of profiteering laws.
- Institutes similar profiteering protections in regards to home heating oil.