The Oilheat Manufacturers Association, in the person of OMA Technical Director John E. Batey, came to the support of fuel oil dealers in Connecticut. Batey submitted extensive comments on what is called the “Comprehensive Energy Strategy” developed by the state’s Department of Energy and Environmental Protection. Batey lays out a case for biodiesel blended with ultra-low sulfur heating oil, and high-efficiency equipment. The combination of the blended fuel and the latest equipment beats both natural gas and electric heat pumps, Batey says on behalf of OMA and the Connecticut Energy Marketers Association. Since the argument can be deployed out-of-state, so to speak, we published Batey’s (and OMA’s) case, with his blessing, in almost its entirety in the February print and digital issues of Fuel Oil News (see the cover story, “OMA Critiques Connecticut Energy Plan,” pg. 13.) Oil dealers in other states might take it as a prompt on how to address similar challenges they face.
OMA, Parsippany, N.J., represents manufacturers of oil-fired heating equipment. In his technical and engineering review of the Comprehensive Energy Strategy (CES), Batey notes that an estimated 40% of homeowners in the state use oil heat. He writes:
“I believe that many underlying assumptions on the cost, cleanliness and reliability of energy sources need to be revisited and adjusted. They appear to be based on a lack of understanding of the performance of the current state of oil heating equipment and advanced fuels. The CES’s stated plan to move from oil heat to natural gas and electric heat pumps, despite past and recent equipment efficiency and emissions advances, are not in the best interest of the 40 percent of Connecticut homeowners who currently use oil. Upgrading oil heat equipment is lower in cost than fuel switching, provides air emissions reductions comparable to natural gas, and can lower greenhouse gas emissions below natural gas with the use of ultra-low sulfur (ULS) heating oil mandated in Connecticut in 2018, and the expanding use of renewable biodiesel.”
With this boost from OMA, the Connecticut Energy Marketers Association aims to push the state’s energy policy makers to recognize the merits of biodiesel blended with ultra-low sulfur fuel, says Chris Herb, president of the Connecticut dealers’ group. “Our regulators conveniently do not want to deal with the fact that [electricity] is generated not only by natural gas, but it’s also generated by coal and other fuels that are not zer0-emissions,” Herb says. “Electricity is not emissions-free. Our regulators, that are supposed to be in charge of protecting the environment, are conveniently just looking at burner-tech emissions instead of the life-cycle analysis of fuel.”
Herb described the association’s plan to instill a comprehensive view in policy makers:
“Step one was for us to overwhelm them with our story and with the facts,” Herb says, “and I think that phase can be considered a success because DEEP has already publicly stated that they’re reevaluating the replacement of oil heat and propane systems with electric heat pumps. They did publicly acknowledge that they did not know a lot about how to look at the life-cycle analysis of fuel that’s produced from the well-head to the burner tip—that the burner tip is what they’ve been focused on. So, their public acknowledgment of that…sets us up very well to have a conversation with policy makers.”