350 Connecticut Disappointed in Failure of Oil Efficiency Legislation

350 Connecticut Disappointed in Failure of Oil Efficiency Legislation
Without Quick Action, 48% of Homes in State to Lose Access to State’s Efficiency Programs
HARTFORD – In the yearly flurry of activity on the last day of the Connecticut legislative session, a major issue slipped through the cracks: allowing heating oil customers access to state efficiency programs. At a time when all Connecticut residents are trying to save money on energy, fuel oil customers (48% of homes) are at a severe disadvantage. They are about to lose access to efficiency assistance programs that are available to natural gas or electric heat customers, because of the way these programs are funded.

This inequity would have been corrected by proposed legislation including Senate Bill 415 and Senate Bill 450. Efforts to provide reliable access to efficiency programs and to improve the structure of efficiency funds were supported by 350 Connecticut, other statewide environmental advocacy groups, energy efficiency businesses and private citizens. Unfortunately, ongoing negotiations among legislators meant that no compromise energy bill was finalized before the clock ran out on the 2012 legislative session Wednesday night.

Teresa Eickel, member of 350 Connecticut and executive director of the Interreligious Eco-Justice Network, testified in support of the policy at a public hearing. “This legislation will not only save Connecticut residents hundreds of dollars per year, it will also secure jobs for economic growth,” she said at the time. Owners and employees of home performance businesses testified that expanding access to and funding for state efficiency programs would enable them to hire more workers, while restricting access might force them to lay off workers–especially in areas of the state where oil is the predominant heating fuel.

Although the legislature failed to deal with this issue in regular session, there is still time to give oil customers access to these programs before funding runs out. “Our senators, representatives and governor need to act quickly,” said Laura McMillan, a member of 350 Connecticut’s Global Warming Solutions Act working group. “Providing all state residents with access to programs like Home Energy Solutions will help their constituents to save money, protect skilled jobs in the home performance sector, and reduce Connecticut’s carbon footprint.”

Ben Martin
350 Connecticut


Within the next two months, the 50% of Connecticut residents who heat their homes with oil could lose their access to energy efficiency programs in the State of Connecticut.  These programs save residents money on heating and electricity, reduce our energy consumption, oil use and carbon footprint, and create green jobs for people right here in CT.  We have the chance to save these programs and continue equal access to energy efficiency programs, but our legislators need to hear from you right now.

Are you willing to make a call or write a letter today?

Read this info sheet for more information on why oil efficiency is so important

Our ask: we need our legislators to pass SB 450, which addresses oil efficiency, and to make sure that the final version of the bill includes a stable funding source for oil efficiency.

Calling or writing to your legislators is easy, and we’ve got some talking points for you below.  Most of them are eager to hear from their constituents, and we’ve heard over and over that a physical letter or a phone call make a big, big difference.  If we make it clear that Connecticut residents deeply care about seeing these programs continue we can win this, but we need your help.  Here’s what you can do:


  1. Find your legislators using this tool (or Project Vote Smart if you have trouble) and click on the yellow dot to open the websites for your Connecticut State Senator and your Connecticut State House Representative.  Find their phone numbers or their physical addresses (usually a room # at the Legislative Office Building).
  2. Take a moment to review the talking points below and then pick up the phone or start writing!  Be respectful, but also be yourself.  Talk about why you care, and be clear about what you want.  If you’re writing a letter, be sure to include your name, home address and phone number.
  3. Let us know you made a call or sent a letter by clicking here, and then share this page with friends and colleagues by email, facebook, twitter or in person.
  4. Sign the petition to support this bill: Support SB 450, An Act Concerning Energy Conservation and Renewable Energy.
For extra credit, reach out to any of the members of the Energy and Technology Committee — the committee that will be taking this issue up.  You can find them here.


Talking Points

  • Background: Forty-eight percent of houses in Connecticut are heated with fuel oil, but the residents in those homes currently have limited and declining access to efficiency programs to help reduce their heating bills. Many municipal facilities and schools are also heated with oil.  Oil efficiency programs have been funded through federal stimulus funding and other interim sources that are now running out, and our representatives in the Connecticut Legislature have the power to sustain these programs by finding a stable funding source.  These oil efficiency programs will give residents access to the same low-cost energy assessments, rebates and financing that natural gas and electric customers have access to currently.
  • Why this is important: With these programs our state is making it possible for Connecticut residents and businesses to cut their oil consumption, cut their carbon footprint, save money and create jobs for the skilled workers we need to install insulation, provide energy audits and perform upgrades for outdated appliances.  Without these programs, we’ve lost the chance to make a huge dent in our energy use for 50% of homes across the state, and the companies who have led the way in Connecticut by providing these energy efficiency services will need to start laying off employees rather than adding more.
  • What we need: We need our legislators to address “oil efficiency” this session, and to work together to find a stable funding source for energy efficiency programs for oil customers.  There is no specific bill yet for this issue, but you can identify it by using the phrase “oil efficiency”.  The first committee to vote on this will be the Energy and Technology committee, and whether your representative is a part of that group or not we need them to tell their colleagues and their party leadership: oil efficiency is an issue we need to fix this session, and doing so will have important benefits for CT residents, CT workers and the planet we live on.

There’s more detailed information in this fact sheet, and if you have any questions don’t hesitate to get in touch.

1 thought on “350 Connecticut Disappointed in Failure of Oil Efficiency Legislation”

  1. Check out this great letter that Pippa from Westport just sent:

    Dear Representative Steinberg,

    As a member of the Energy and Technology Committee you have the ability to make a difference to the lives of thousands, if not millions of Connecticut residents. I am sure you are aware that over 50% of Westporters heat their homes with oil heat, but they do not have as ready access as electricity and natural gas heated homes do to the energy efficiency programs that the state offers, since de-funding in 2009.

    As co-chair of the Westport Home Energy Challenge, I have had the opportunity to interface with many Westporters about energy efficiency. We are gaining great momentum, and this quarter we will have signed up over 200 residents to take the challenge-have a Home Energy Solutions visit and consider additional energy efficiency upgrades. But this momentum will come to a grinding halt if funds are no longer available to residents who heat with oil. As it is, we lose potential energy efficiency upgrades regularly because homeowners who heat with oil cannot benefit from rebates. This, despite the fact that they could use the improvements just as much as the electricity or natural gas heated home. After all, they need to keep their homes cool in the summer as well as warm in the winter, and keep their appliances and lights on, and not break the bank doing so.

    I ask that you push for a stable funding source for oil efficiency. As a member of the Westport community who is trying to promote energy efficiency, I am frustrated and dismayed when there are threats of removing or decreasing funding to oil heated homes. This will only hamper the progress we have made to educate residents and facilitate energy efficiency.


    Pippa Bell Ader
    Co-chair, Westport Home Energy Challenge


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