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Connecticut households who use fuel oil for home heating may face an “energy conservation” fee, according to a new energy strategy plan released on July 26 by the state’s Department of Energy and Environmental Protection.
The updated strategy calls for Connecticut to reduce carbon emissions by 30 percent by 2030 with a focus on growing large-scale, renewable energy procurements that tend to produce electricity much more cheaply than small-scale renewables, such as residential solar.
However, the new recommendation is bound to be controversial to many homeowners. Around 44 percent of the state’s households rely on fuel oil to get through the winter. (The fee would also cover the use of propane.) While the amount of the fee is yet to be determined, the money is earmarked for a special fund to pay for energy conservation and efficiency programs.
Connecticut already charges a similar fee on electricity and natural gas to help pay for the programs.
“The small additional cost for heating oil and propane resulting from such a fee would be more than offset by savings that customers could achieve on heating costs through equitably participating in efficiency programs,” Mary Sotos, the state’s deputy commissioner, told the Hartford Courant.
The fee, which will be subject to public hearings and require legislative approval, is bound to face opposition from the oil heat industry. Adding to the contention is the state’s current budget shortfall. The proposed state budget plan currently calls for a “sweep” of the conservation funds to eliminate the state’s $5 billion deficit that’s projected over the next two years.
The new plan is an update to the original energy strategy plan. That 2013 plan pushed the state to take advantage of low natural gas prices to meet a goal of cleaner, cheaper and more reliable power in a state with the most expensive electricity in the continental United States.
For more details on what state officials have to say about oil heat customers, click here.