Steve Rosentel, president of Leahy's Fuel on White Street, wasn’t about to let the state’s new proposed energy plan go forward without a fight. Rosentel testified the $6.8 billion dollar plan to convert 300,000 homes in Connecticut to natural gas and build 900 miles of new pipelines cross the state would cost people their jobs.
"The jobs we are talking about are middle class, blue collar jobs," Rosentel said. "These are the people who respond to you when you wake up to no heat or hot water on Christmas Eve. They are the delivery drivers who bring you propane to fuel your generators after a week without power while you are waiting for utilities to show up. They are your neighbors, volunteer firemen and your kids’ coaches."
Rosentel was one of 34 people who signed up to testify last night during the first in a series of public hearings about the proposed energy plan. Not one person testified in favor of it.
"I believe this is the first time that state resources are being used to steal Connecticut jobs, benefiting mega-utility companies at the expense of small, locally owned oil and propane makers," Rosentel said.
The Independent Connecticut Petroleum Association or ICPA says besides costing people their jobs, the proposed energy plan is bad for consumers.
"The entire foundation of the plan is the mistaken assumption that natural gas prices will stay the way they are today and last for a long, long time," said Gene Guilford, President of the cromwell-based ICPA. "The Governor is putting all his eggs in one basket and unless he has a crystal ball, it’s a gamble. The state energy plan puts consumers in jeopardy by making assumptions about the future that no one can know."
ICPA and its members equate the state's $6.8 billion dollar plan to what happened in the 1950s and say it’s just another example of why Government should not be influencing consumers on how to heat their homes.
"The Government and Utilities in the 50s told us that electricity would be too cheap to meter. That led to the all-electric homes of the 60s and 70s and we learned later what a mistake that was as consumers couldn't afford to pay their electric bills as rates skyrocketed," Guilford said. "The Connecticut energy plan does the same thing all over again, this time, with natural gas. Taxpayers should not be footing the bill for this. Utilities and its shareholders should bear the economic risk."
Further, ICPA and others are opposed to any state government investment in expanding the natural gas company monopoly. Guilford says that the Governor’s plan will give consumers fewer choices by limiting the market and locking consumers into an uncertain future. Because natural gas is only sold by one company, if prices rise, consumers will have nowhere to turn. With home heating oil, consumers have 600 companies to choose from every day. While natural gas is less expensive than oil currently, for 24 of the last 28 years, heating oil was lower than natural gas.