CEMA Goes to Hartford

The good news is that the effort to establish tolls was defeated, CEMA leaders told fuel marketers at a lobbying day at the Connecticut state capitol in Hartford. The bad news is that the state’s campaign for electrification poses an existential threat to fuel marketers, they said.

Chris Herb, president of CEMA, holds up a vial of biodiesel as he talks to fuel marketers at the state capitol in Hartford. The vials were distributed to marketers to use as a visual aid in their meetings with lawmakers. Photo by Stephen Bennett/Fuel Oil News.

Association leaders prepared fuel marketers March 4 in a conference room at the state capitol before the marketers went to lobby lawmakers. State statute requires a sharp reduction of CO2 emissions by 2030, and further reduction by 2050. Connecticut’s Department of Energy and Environmental Protection is promoting electrification as a means to achieve the goals.

 “To achieve deep decarbonization across all sectors, electrification of energy end uses is essential,” the Governor’s Council on Climate Change 2018, has said. “This will require shifting away from utilizing fossil fuels to power transportation and building thermal loads to electric technologies that have no direct emissions. Widespread deployment of electric technologies such as electric vehicles and heat pumps will be a primary means to achieve deep economy-wide reductions,” the Council said.

The Connecticut Energy Marketers Association opposes electrification for a range of reasons, David Chu, CEMA’s vice president, told fuel marketers, outlining some of the industry’s arguments against it generally, and against a State Senate bill in particular. The bill is called “An Act Establishing a Green New Deal for Connecticut.” CEMA argues, among other things, that:

  • The bill prescribes that the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (DEEP) transition from a free, fair, and competitive market in the heating and transportation sectors to electric utility monopolies.
  • Electricity is an has been the most expensive source of energy in Connecticut for decades. ISO New England has warned Connecticut and the region that the grid is fragile and brown out and blackouts may occur if new generation does not come online.
  • Energy diversity shields Connecticut residents from blackouts that would cripple the state in the event of power outages that can be caused by weather, cyber-attack, and an overburdened grid that cannot handle increased electric demand.

“Don’t put all of our energy eggs in one basket!” the association urged in printouts distributed to fuel marketers. “We have a great story to tell!” speakers told the marketers, outlining points they should make about ultra-low-sulfur heating oil blended with biodiesel, marketed as Bioheat. “Taking sulfur out of fuel causes no problems for oil heating equipment or storage tanks. Reducing the amount of sulfur prolongs the life of heat exchangers (particularly condensing boilers and furnaces) because of the elimination of soot and scaling,” according to a slide presentation CEMA presented. “The increased efficiency is due to the reduced sooting and scaling that will cause more heat to go up the chimney. Heating efficiency is improved by getting more heat into the home,” the slide presentation stated. “Burning ULSHO means reduced sulfur dioxide by 75%, particulate matter by 80%, nitrous oxide by 10% and carbon dioxide by 2% when compared to 3,000 ppm heating oil. When you include the biodiesel blend you can add 5-10 points to each of those numbers.”

Propane is an essential backup fuel that should not be spurned, but included in the energy mix, Leslie Anderson, president and CEO of the Propane Gas Association of New England, briefed marketers. “If the ISO New England grid gets hacked and there is no electricity, propane is a good backup,” Anderson said. She distributed a packet of literature for marketers to refer to in their lobbying efforts, including a sheet bearing the headline, “Where Does New England Get Its Power?” that included this message:

“Most people think solar and wind power are the most popular renewable energy sources. However, New England currently gets more power from refuse and wood. That’s right: burning garbage and carbon-heavy wood counts as renewable energy, but green sustainable propane does not.”

Further, the literature pointed out, “The U.S. wastes millions of gallons [of propane] each year while countries like India, Brazil and Sudan use recycled propane to significantly offset carbon emissions. We can and should do the same here in New England.”— Stephen Bennett

Stephen Bennett is the editor of Fuel Oil News.

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