Blogs > Power to the People

A common sense look at energy issues in the state of Connecticut and how they affect the state's residents

Sunday, July 20, 2014

New Study Says Connecticut Energy Costs High, But So Are Efforts to Reduce Usage

While it hardly comes a surprise that Connecticut consumers have some of the highest energy bills in the country, a new study actually quantifies costs here versus other states and the District of Columbia.

The new WalletHub study ranks Connecticut as the third most expensive state for energy costs trailed by only Mississippi and Hawaii. Connecticut's residents average $404 per month in energy costs, which WalletHub calculates using three components: Monthly electric and natural gas costs as well as automotive fuel costs.

The average Connecticut resident pays $143 per month for electricity. Only residents of Hawaii, who have an average electric bill of $209 per month pay more than those of us in the Nutmeg State.

Connecticut residents pay an average of $98 for natural gas costs. That may give pause to those among us who are considering whether to convert from heating their homes from oil to natural gas as part of the ten-year long push to expand usage of the fuel in the state under Gov. Dannel Malloy's Strategic Comprehensive Energy Strategy.

Only three other places saw their residents pay more on average per month for natural gas, according to the WalletHub study: Alaska, Massachusetts and the District of Columbia.

Surprisingly, Connecticut ranks 14th in what WalletHub identifies as fuel costs for gasoline with average monthly expense coming in at $167 per month. The study reaches that number through a calculation that involves average monthly vehicle miles traveled / average car consumption /number of drivers

I have to admit I'm a little skeptical on this ranking.

 Let's assume that the average Connecticut household has two cars. Knowing that it's pretty hard to get a full tank of gas for less than $50, that would mean that the two-car household could only fill up three times a month.

One thing the study claims that Connecticut excels at is efficient energy use. The state is ranked 10th in fuel consumption per drive and 16th in terms of electricity consumption per consumer.

WalletHub is a social media network that provides tools that it says help consumers maker smarter financial decisions.


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Saturday, June 21, 2014

Cheshire Schools Win State Award For Energy Efficiency

Cheshire's public school system has earned the Municipal Difference Maker Leadership Award as part of the 2014 Power of Change Awards, which were handed out June 17.

The school district was honored for launching energy projects including lighting retrofits, a solar energy classroom and maximizing incentives received from Connecticut Light & Power. Frank Biancur, the district's maintenance foreman, accepted the award on behalf of the district during a ceremony at the State Capitol.

The 2014 Power of Change Award celebrated the energy efficiency achievements of more than 20 Connecticut state agencies and municipalities. Wallingford's Energy Conservation Commission took an honorable mention in Municipal Difference Maker Leadership Award category while the city of Milford's school system won top honors in the Power of Change Top Building Award for municipalities. Rob Klee, Commissioner of the Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection, is shown at left in the photo above with Frank Biancur after presenting the award. The Power Of Change Award was created to honor the best achievements and innovations in energy efficiency across Connecticut's state and municipal buildings. The award is sponsored by three Connecticut-based foundations – the Emily Hall Tremaine Foundation, Hampshire Foundation and the Common Sense Fund.
 

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Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Torgerson In Las Vegas For Electric Utility Conference

UIL Holdings President and Chief Executive Officer James Torgerson is running in some high profile company these days.

While UIL officials are busy back home dealing with the day-to-day issues of doing business - like power outages in service territory of the company's United Illuminating subsidiary and addressing concerns about tree trimming around the electric wires - Torgerson is at the Edison Electric Institute's annual meeting in Las Vegas. The Edison Electric Institute is a trade association that represents investor-owned electric utilities.

 And Torgerson is not just any run-of-the mill conference attendee. He spent Monday as part of a panel of utility executives and government officials conducting a presentation "Safeguarding The Grid."

 Among those speaking at the Edison Electric Institute's annual meeting this year are Berkshire Hathaway Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Warren Buffett and former U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates.

Torgerson is a member of the Edison Electric Institute's Board of Directors.

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Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Park City To Become Solar City

Hartford is Connecticut's capital, but when it comes the state's renewable energy capital, you can make a strong case for Bridgeport.

The Park City is already home  to the world's second largest fuel cell park in the world, which was completed at the end of last year in the city's West End. And now, thanks to action Tuesday night by the Bridgeport City Council, it will soon have a solar energy farm, located a few blocks away from the fuel cell park.

The council voted 15-5 to approve a solar energy project on the site of a former city landfill in Seaside Park. The 9-acre site, which has been closed for decades, will host 9,000 solar panels which will produce 5 megawatts of power.

That's enough electricity to power about 5,000 homes. The United Illuminating Co. will handle the installation of the solar panels.

The project is expected to produce $7 million in revenue over a 20 year period. Mayor Bill Finch said developing the park on the landfill site will turn "a sin of our past into a shining example of our city’s future."

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Saturday, March 15, 2014

Shared Solar Bill Vote Coming

Supporters of a bill that would help pave the way for "shared" or community solar energy systems in Connecticut say the legislation is coming up for a key vote.

Backers of House Bill 5412 say the General Assembly's Energy and Technology Committee is scheduled to vote Tuesday on whether to advance the legislation. Mike Trahan, executive director of Solar Connecticut, a renewable energy industry group, said if the bill is voted out of committee, it would then be taken up by the full state House of Representatives.

But if the Energy and Technology Committee fails to advance the bill by March 27, it will likely die in committee and will not be taken up until the 2015 legislative session.

Backers of the bill are circulating an online petition in an effort to convince lawmakers to move it forward.

Community solar would allow a group to set up photovoltaic solar panels at a remote location and distribute the electricity that is generated to members who sign up for the service.

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Sunday, February 2, 2014

Pipeline Protest Scheduled For Monday....

A coalition of environmental groups will lend a Connecticut presence to a nationwide protest against the Keystone XL pipeline project on Monday.

Protesters are planning to gather outside the Giaimo Federal Building on Court Street in New Haven at 3 p.m. to protest the findings of a U.S. State Department report that was released on Friday. The report claims the controversial pipeline would not substantially worsen carbon pollution.

 The protests are being organized by a variety of environmental groups, including the Sierra Club. The 1,700 mile pipeline would bring 830,000 barrels of oil per day from Canada into the United States, ending in Houston, Texas.

Hopefully, the protesters will have had enough foresight to obtain the necessary permits needed to hold protests in the area surrounding the federal building. A lack of a permit forced the Connecticut Alliance for Retire Americans to relocate a July 2013 protest it had planned for the area surrounding the federal building to the New Haven Green.

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Monday, November 11, 2013

New England's Regional Grid Goes High Tech


Okay, so maybe New England's regional electric power grid was pretty high tech already, at least from the perspective of average folks like you and I.

But earlier this year, ISO-New England completed $14.9 million project that provides the grid operator with far more detailed data about the operation of the transmission network. The project involved the installation of data collection devices known as phasor measurement units.
 
The phasor measurement units allow for the sampling of such data as voltage and frequency levels at different locations along the grid, according to ISO-NE officials. The devices also allow for the sampling of power conditions at a rate of 30 times per second as opposed to the previous capability of one sample every two seconds.

Nearly 80 phasor measurement units were installed along the grid in the six state region.

The devices almost immediately began paying dividends when they began operating earlier this year , according to ISO-NE officials.

A forest fire in Canada in July tripped multiple transmission lines, resulting in the loss of about 1,750 megawatts of imported power from Hydro Quebec. The data from the phasor measurement units enabled the incident to be captured at millisecond accuracy across a wide area.

That, in turn, allowed system engineers to understand what exactly happened to the grid, and how the system behaved before, during, and after the disturbance.

The technology upgrades for the grid were paid for by a $6.4 million grant from the federal Department of Energy (DOE) and with $8.5 million from ISO-NE and the region’s transmission owners.
 
Installing phasor measurement units on regional energy grids was a recommendation that the DOE had made in the aftermath of the 2003 blackout that started in Ohio and spread from to the Northeast in a matter of seconds.

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