Keeping Connecticut a Leader in Clean, Efficient, and Renewable Energy
Posted on by Rachel Gretencord
It’s sunny and 86 degrees out today - the time of year to hit the beach, grill some burgers, and hope that the rooftop solar panels on my house are cranking out more energy than my air conditioner is sucking away. (Today, it may be a toss-up.) While the northeast is known for having higher energy costs than other areas of the nation, one bright spot is that there is greater financial and political incentive to implement clean, renewable, and energy-efficient technology here, which is reflected in Connecticut’s economic data.
While overall Connecticut’s jobs in the Electricity Transmission and Generation cluster are 15% lower than the nation, the portion of those jobs in non-fossil fuel electric generation (including solar, wind, nuclear, geothermal, biomass, hydroelectric, and other) are 56% higher than the nation.1 These jobs are good for the state’s economy, too: the average earnings of $189,310 in these industries is higher than the state average of $82,713, and the sector creates an additional 3.9 jobs in the larger economy for every job in the industry.2
Leader in Fuel Cell Technology
The US Department of Energy also notes that Connecticut is a leader in fuel cell technology. Fuel cells, which produce electricity utilizing a fuel (typically hydrogen) and oxygen as the inputs with water and heat as the byproducts, are low-polluting and more efficient than many traditional methods of energy production. After California, Connecticut is home to the nation’s second largest installed fuel cell capacity, including a Dominion project in Bridgeport touted as the largest fuel cell power generating facility in North America when it was announced in 2013.3 Connecticut is one of only a handful of states that have both suppliers and installations, as well as manufacturing facilities and corporate offices for the fuel cell industry, located in-state, including 10 fuel cell and hydrogen manufacturers and 611 supply chain companies.4
Energy Efficiency Programs
Connecticut is also a major supporter of energy efficiency programs to help residents save money. The American Council for an Energy Efficient Economy ranks Connecticut 5th in the nation for energy efficiency, including a broad range of criteria including utilities, transportation, building policies, combined heat and power, state government initiatives, and appliance standards. The agency also noted Connecticut has achieved some of the highest utility savings levels in the country.5 A 2017 study also ranked the state 7th in the nation for total funding to support energy efficiency programs for residents.6
Connecticut’s long history of encouraging clean, efficient, and renewable energy has led to tangible results. The state has the third-lowest energy consumption per dollar of GDP in the nation, behind New York and Massachusetts, and just ahead of California.7 Continued policy and public support for developing these technologies position the state well to remain a leader in this field.
1 EMSI, 2019.2 release (2018 employment data).
2 Earnings includes wages, salaries, benefits, profits, and other compensation. EMSI, 2019.2 release (2018 data).
3 US Department of Energy, State of the States: Fuel Cells in America 2017; Breslin, Mike, “Largest Fuel Cell Power Project in North America,” Electrical Contractor, February 2013
4 US Department of Energy, State of the States: Fuel Cells in America 2017
5 American Council for an Energy Efficient Economy, 2018 State Energy Efficiency Scorecard
6 Goodman, Charles A., Sean Murphy, Ian Hoffman, Natalie Mims Frick, Greg Leventis and Lisa Schwartz, “The Future of US Electricity Efficiency Programs Funded by Utility Customers,” Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, November 2018.
7 US Energy Information Administration, “Energy Consumption Estimates Per Real Dollar of GDP,” State Energy Data System, 1960-2017