Time to Update Connecticut's Energy Efficiency Plan
We Need Your Voice! It’s Time To Update Connecticut’s Energy Efficiency Plan to Align with State Climate & Clean Energy Policy
Currently, the Connecticut’s Energy Efficiency Board is developing its 2022 to 2024 plan for the next three years of our state’s energy efficiency program. This ratepayer funded program plays a critical role in reducing energy use and can catalyze further reduction of climate-destroying greenhouse gas emissions. The UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) warns that we must significantly reduce our fossil fuel dependence in less than 10 years to avoid catastrophic warming.
Sierra Club is advocating for changes in the energy efficiency program to end rebates for fossil fuels, increase rebates for renewable technologies like heat pumps, and to address issues that prevent the program from serving many low and moderate income households. Add your name to support these important changes.
We seek improvements in the energy efficiency program to:
End rebates for fossil fuel equipment and appliances - By providing rebates for fossil fuel equipment and appliances, the Energy Efficiency Board is using ratepayer funds to lock customers into decades of fossil fuel combustion. This is antithetical to the solutions needed to address the climate crisis and meet the greenhouse gas emission reductions mandated by Connecticut’s Global Warming Solutions Act.
Additionally because gas leaks are prevalent and greatly increase the emissions related to gas equipment and appliances, they have a much greater impact on climate than the program is currently calculating. Studies of methane leakage along the supply chain indicate the greenhouse gas impact of fossil and fracked gas is much greater than estimates that only factor in combustion or that consider only the reduced carbon content of fossil gas compared to other fossil fuels.
Finally, there is a growing body of research on the negative health impacts of fossil fuel powered equipment and appliances. In 2020, UCLA researchers found that after cooking for one hour with a gas stove and oven, peak levels of nitrogen dioxide (NO2) inside the kitchen are so high they exceed both state and national outdoor acute air-quality standards in more than 90 percent of the homes modeled. In February 2021, a Harvard report revealed that an annual 8 million premature deaths worldwide and over 350,000 in the United States were a direct consequence of burning fossil fuel. The report identifies the Northeastern United States as one of the hardest hit areas in the world. In May, the Harvard T. H. Chan School of Public Health published a study that found health impacts from nitrogen oxides and volatile organic compounds—two of the pollutants associated with burning gas specifically—cost Connecticut an estimated $309 million and $104 million in health impact costs, respectively. The harm to human health caused by gas use and the associated costs to the state further demonstrate that our energy efficiency program must end rebates for fossil fuel appliances and equipment.
Increase rebates for heat pumps - Widespread deployment of heat pumps is a primary means to achieve deep greenhouse gas emission reductions in buildings. In the Government’s Council on Climate Change (GC3) December 2018 report “Building a Low Carbon Future for Connecticut: Achieving a 45% GHG Reduction by 2030,” DEEP calculated that 11% of Connecticut homes—more than 150,000—must use renewable heat pumps by 2030 to stay on track with the state’s greenhouse gas emission reduction goals under the Global Warming Solutions Act. To increase deployment of heat pumps, Connecticut’s energy efficiency program must update the cost effectiveness test to include compliance with the Global Warming Solutions Act, increase the incentives for heat pumps, expand eligibility, and ensure that cold-climate heat pumps are being deployed to heat as well as cool.
Develop and implement a program to address health and safety barriers - Up to 23% of all low and moderate income households seeking services face barriers that include gas leaks, mold, asbestos, and more. A remediation program must be created so all residents can equally access services and be safe and comfortable in their homes.
Samantha Dynowski is State Director of Sierra Club Connecticut.