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CEMA Takes on Connecticut Regulators

In 2018, 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 CEMA.

Energy policy has been an ongoing challenge to the state’s fuel marketers since the Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (DEEP) proposed a Comprehensive Energy Strategy (CES) that called for expanded implementation of natural gas. CEMA opposed that plan. Now it is battling a subsequent draft CES, issued by DEEP in August, that would promote expansion of the electric grid over the use of heating oil.

The draft of the latest CES calls for a “shift from natural gas conversion for heating purposes to electrification,” Herb says. “They are looking to go from oil and propane heating systems to electric heat pumps. The problem is, as one of our board members says very often, a faulty premise equals a faulty conclusion.” The faulty premise is that electricity is emissions-free, Herb says. That flawed starting point is also what is behind a proposal to put two million electric vehicles on the road, Herb says.

“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 zero-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.”

What’s the 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. Some 800 public comments on the latest proposed CES were sent to DEEP during the fall last year, pointing out fuel marketers’ concerns and criticisms. “We’ve also had well over 75 members provide oral testimony,” 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.”—Stephen Bennett

 

Stephen Bennett is the editor of Fuel Oil News.

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