Connecticut Braces for Expensive Winter With National Increase in Heating Bills
With Connecticut among the top states for highest electricity prices and an expected national increase in heating bills, state residents could be paying substantially high living expenses compared to the rest of the country this winter.
Based on the short-term energy outlook for winter 2021-2022, U.S. households could be paying up to 54% more in heating bills depending on the fuel used for heating. This economic forecast comes in addition to the fact that Connecticut was estimated in July 2021 to have the highest overall energy costs in the United States. The projection included the monthly average of electricity, natural gas, motor fuel, and home heating-oil, with a total of $411.
“The high prices follow changes to energy supply and demand patterns in response to the COVID-19 pandemic,” said the U.S. Energy Information Administration. “We expect that households across the United States will spend more on energy this winter compared with the past several winters because of these higher energy prices and because we assume a slightly colder winter than last year in much of the United States.”
The EIA predicts that households heating with propane will be paying the highest prices this winter (54% more than average), while households that heat solely with electricity will be paying the least (6% more than average). Despite this, Connecticut has already been paying more than double the price of other states’ average electricity costs over recent years, including Idaho, Louisiana, Montana [and] Nebraska.
The factors that contribute to the state’s abnormally high electric prices, according to the Hartford Courant, include its cold winters and limited supply of natural gas. Homeowners are the first to use energy from the heating fuel supply during the state’s coldest season, and the remainder is used to generate electricity, leading to an increase in pricing.
The EIA stated in September that almost 4 in 10 of the state’s households use natural gas as their primary fuel for home heating. In addition, it was confirmed that dependency on the fuel source is continuing to increase across the state and New England, creating a “critical energy issue for the region.” Connecticut does not have any underground natural gas facilities of its own and instead relies on neighboring states for fuel support
As part of former Governor Dan Malloy’s plan in 2014 to decrease the state’s use of oil as a fuel source, “39,104 residential customers converted to natural gas for heating and 12,021 commercial and industrial customers shifted to natural gas for generation or other processes,” according to the Hartford Courant. As part of the original plan, more than 300,000 households would be converted to natural gas as their primary fuel source by 2020.
Malloy’s goal of natural gas expansion included plans to reduce costs and spur economic development. Despite this, Connecticut consumers who spent thousands of dollars during the conversion will now be paying among the highest prices in the state for energy this winter.
The expansion of Connecticut’s natural gas pipeline to meet current and near future demand had begun in 2014 and continued to 2019, with 381 miles of gas lines being built. A 2018 report has since confirmed that gas main installation has not materialized at the rate the local distribution companies projected.
According to the Connecticut Post, the rise of heating fuel costs is a symptom of a nationwide inflation taking place as a result of the economy bouncing back from the COVID-19 pandemic. U.S. consumer prices have risen 5.4% over the past year, which is a rate that matches the inflation that followed the 2008 financial crisis. The inflation has inevitably led to higher prices for everyday life essentials, ranging from groceries to housing.