2018 CEQ Annual Report

AR 18 Report Banner

Personal Impact*

Driving and Riding               Compliance               Waste Diversion
Climate Changers               Electricity at Home & Work

Climate Change Symbol



Electricity at Home and Work

At Home:

Quick Summary - x x dash

The average Connecticut resident's electric consumption spiked in 2018, reversing a four year downward trend.

 Directional Arrows

Quick Summary - Check Check Dash

In 2018, the amount of solar photovoltaic (PV) panel installations in Connecticut increased considerably over 2017. 
Directional Arrows
At Work:

Quick Summary - Check Check Dash

Connecticut's businesses and industries continue to use energy efficiently.

Directional Arrows

Efficiency at Home (Top Chart): In 2018, average Connecticut household consumption of electricity increased dramatically. Consumption had been trending lower since 2013. The uptick of 2018 came in a year with a hot summer that had 26 days with temperatures greater than 90 days.

According to the Connecticut Siting Council, peak demand occurs during hot, humid summer days when residents use air conditioning. (See page 5 - 6 of linked document for details.) Excessive electricity consumption in the summertime has had significant environmental consequences. On the hottest days, Connecticut’s base-load power plants are unable to meet the additional demand, and older petroleum-fueled plants are brought online. Because they are used sporadically, some of these older plants are permitted to operate with no pollution control equipment. As a result, state residents generate the most air pollution on the hottest summer days when air quality is already bad. 

Nuclear power and natural gas supply the majority of Connecticut’s electricity generation. Connecticut is part of a regional grid and can receive electricity generated by oil and other fuels. Hydropower, wind, solar and other renewable resources are small but growing sources of electricity within and outside Connecticut. Each source, renewable or not, has its own environmental consequences. Reducing those consequences will require Connecticut households to use electricity more efficiently. Such efficiency can be attained in part with ENERGY STAR appliances. (See technical note below.) Further efficiencies can be achieved by taking advantage of programs available through Energize Connecticut that are estimated by the Energy Efficiency Board to have provided twenty-six million dollars in savings for residents. Without those savings 65,000 tons of CO2 would have been put into the atmosphere in 2018. More information about Connecticut's carbon emissions in the "Climate Changers" section of this report.

A significant percentage of Connecticut consumers do not purchase the most efficient air conditioners, that would help to reduce peak summer demand. (Appliance purchasing data for Connecticut previously was tracked in this report but became unavailable after 2010. Energy Star airconditioner sales had not topped fifty percent of sales at that time. More recent national data do not show an improvement in the market penetration of efficient room air conditioners.)

Residential Solar Energy Producers (Middle Chart): Thousands of Connecticut homes now use the sun to generate much of their own electricity. Legislation adopted in 2011 (CGS 16-245ff) set a goal of 30 megawatts of new photovoltaic capacity installed on residential properties by the end of 2022. The Residential Solar Investment Program of the Connecticut Green Bank (formerly the Clean Energy Finance and Investment Authority) reports that this goal was exceeded in 2014. In 2015, the law was amended to continue subsidies for residential photovoltaic installations until 300 megawatts is achieved, or until 2022. By the end of 2018, the Connecticut Green Bank had assisted in the installation of over 200 megawatts. In 2018, 4,668 systems were installed. The highpoint for residential installations came in 2015 (8,197 installations) and 2016 (6,936 installations). 

For customers who do not sign up to purchase electricity from renewable sources, a percentage of their "regular" electricity service is required by statute to be from renewable sources; that minimum percentage was 25 percent in 2018 and will escalate to 48 percent in 2030 (Class I, II and III). More than a dozen types of energy qualify as renewable under this requirement. Projects selected for renewable generation in Connecticut have largely been solar photovoltaic facilities proposed to be built on farmland and forest, as documented in the Council's 2017 special report, Energy Sprawl in Connecticut

  Efficiency at Work: The bottom chart shows the trend in the efficiency with which Connecticut’s economy uses electricity to produce goods and services.  
Connecticut's businesses generally have been using less electricity to produce a unit of goods or services. Gross Domestic Product (GDP) is the total value of goods and services produced within the state in a single year. The Federal Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA) put Connecticut's 2018 GDP at $242 billion (seasonally adjusted chained dollars). The data tracked is utility electricity sales to commercial and industrial end users. It does not account for electricity sourced from solar panels, fuel cells or other alternative sources. 

The Council investigated the question of whether the apparent long-term improvement in efficiency might have been caused by a shift in Connecticut's economy from energy-intensive manufacturing to financial services and other business sectors that consume less electricity. That shift probably has been a factor. Manufacturing GDP grew from 2009 through 2018 at a slower rate than information services but at a faster rate than finance and insurance. The latter sectors probably use less electricity to create a dollar of GDP in comparison to manufacturing. (See technical note below.) 

Technical Note:

1) Both the "Efficiency at Home" and the "Efficiency at Work" indicators use retail sales of electricity (in kWH) by utilities as the measure of electricity consumption in the residential, commercial and industrial sectors. A distortion due to the increased contribution of renewable generation might exaggerate the apparent drop in Residential Efficiency and also exaggerate the increase in Effieciency at Work. For 2018, all the values shown were updated to reflect the most recent revisions of historical data by the data sources. 

*Personal Impact indicators illustrate trends in behavior or practices that can be expected to influence the condition of tomorrow’s air, water, land and wildlife.