State proposes a “conservation fee” on home heating oil

- FILE - Home Heating Oil delivery (WTNH / Tina Detelj)

HARTFORD, Conn. (WTNH) — In the name of conservation, the state is proposing a tax on home heating oil.  The proposal is aimed at people with older homes that haven’t made energy efficiency improvements. As one state lawmaker put it on Thursday, this is a noble cause, but it’s also just another tax.

Close to half of the homes in Connecticut, 44 percent to be exact, use heating oil or propane for heat and hot water.  The proposed new “energy conservation” fee would be as much as a nickel a gallon to help fund energy conservation initiatives like home energy audits and insulation improvements.  You already pay this fee on your electric bill and if you heat with gas.

The State Commissioner of Energy and Environmental Protection says it’s part of a proposed update for the state’s energy plan to increase efficiency programs saying,  “Our electric customers, our natural gas customers contribute to those efficiency programs but our oil and propane folks have not been contributing.”

Christian Herb is President of the Connecticut Energy Marketers Association, which is an oil dealers trade group.  On Thursday, Herb was meeting with leaders of the legislature’s Environment Committee and later told News 8,  “We truly believe that because consumers are already contributing to these funds through their electric bill there should not be a double dip by the state to attempt to tax them a second time.”

If this sounds vaguely familiar to you, it’s because the heating oil delivery business in Connecticut successfully convinced the legislature four years ago that his was a bad idea.  In the midst of a budget battle over an anti business climate and imposing a Sales Tax hike, this may meet the same fate.  “We here in the State of Connecticut are taxed and fee-ed enough to begin with. No matter how noble the cause may be it’s not worth the price that it’s going to cost,” said Environment Committee ranking member Rep. Stephen Harding (R-Brookfield).

And most of the heating oil dealers in the state already have efficiency programs with an important incentive…saving money.   Dan Rolfe of Clear River Fuel in East Hartford saying,  “We do efficiency tests. We do air conditioning efficiency tests. We also do heating oil efficiency tests on home’s heating oil burner to make sure that they are more energy efficient helping consumers save money and of course
we do greenhouse emissions.”

Another problem is that this ‘energy conservation fund’ is always the target for a raid by state lawmakers when there’s a budget crisis which now appears to be every year.


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