Connecticut State Energy Profile
RESOURCES AND CONSUMPTION
Connecticut has no fossil fuel reserves but does have minor renewable energy resources, including wind power potential and fuelwood resources in the northern part of the state. Connecticut’s economy is not energy intensive, and industry is the state’s smallest energy-consuming sector. The residential and transportation sectors lead state energy consumption.
Connecticut receives petroleum products at the coastal ports of New Haven, New London, and Bridgeport, and the Connecticut River is an important inland water route for petroleum product barges supplying central Connecticut. In addition, a small-capacity product pipeline originating in New Haven supplies Hartford before terminating in central Massachusetts. Connecticut is one of a handful of states that require the statewide use of reformulated motor gasoline blended with ethanol.
Connecticut, along with much of the U.S. Northeast, is vulnerable to distillate fuel oil shortages and price spikes during winter months due to high demand for home heating. About one-half of Connecticut households use fuel oil as their primary energy source for home heating. In January and February 2000, distillate fuel oil prices in the Northeast rose sharply when extreme winter weather increased demand unexpectedly and hindered the delivery of new supply, as frozen rivers and high winds slowed the docking and unloading of barges and tankers. In July 2000, in order to reduce the risk of future shortages, the President directed the U.S. Department of Energy to establish the Northeast Heating Oil Reserve. The Reserve gives Northeast consumers adequate supplies for about 10 days, the time required for ships to carry heating oil from the Gulf of Mexico to New York Harbor. One of the Reserve sites, with an inventory of 750 thousand barrels, is located in New Haven while another, with an inventory of 250 thousand barrels, is located in Groton. The Reserve’s third storage facility is located in Perth Amboy, New Jersey.
In Connecticut, natural gas is used mostly for electricity generation and residential home heating. Connecticut receives its natural gas supply from production areas in the U.S. Gulf Coast region and Canada, and from natural gas storage sites in the Appalachian Basin region, which includes parts of New York, Pennsylvania, and Ohio. The gas is supplied by pipelines entering the state from New York and Massachusetts. Connecticut ships almost one-third of its natural gas supplies to Rhode Island. Like other New England states, Connecticut has no natural gas storage sites and must rely on the Appalachian Basin storage capacity to supply peak demand in winter.
COAL, ELECTRICITY, AND RENEWABLES
For many years, nuclear power from Waterford’s Millstone nuclear plant accounted for more than one-half of Connecticut’s electricity production. However, nuclear power lost some of its dominance in the late 1990s when one of Millstone’s three reactors was permanently taken offline. In recent years, natural gas-fired electricity production has grown rapidly, and natural gas is now Connecticut’s second leading generation fuel, typically accounting for more than one-fourth of net generation. As in other New England states, the growing use of natural gas in Connecticut’s power industry has been driven by the benefits of the lower emission levels of natural gas compared with other fossil fuels and the ease of siting new natural gas-fired power plants. In addition to nuclear power and natural gas, Connecticut also produces electricity from coal, petroleum, and renewable energy sources including landfill gas, municipal solid waste, hydroelectric power, and solar radiation. In 2008, Connecticut ranked in the top ten states for solar power capacity within the United States. In June 2007, Connecticut adopted a renewable portfolio standard that requires 27 percent of the state’s electricity to be generated from renewable sources by 2020.
Connecticut’s residential electricity use is below the national average, in part because demand for air-conditioning is low during the typically mild summer months and electricity is not widely used as a primary energy source for home heating in winter.