Microgrids, Alternative Fuels And Vehicles, Emphasis On Natural Gas Part Of State's Energy Plan

Royal Ice Cream in Manchester, CT cited as example of why it makes sense for state's businesses to switch to natural gas. Conversion should pay for itself in about five months. Savings are $7,290 annually.


Gov. Dannel P. Malloy joined a host of state and local leaders at Royal Ice Cream in Manchester on Tuesday to unveil a portion of his Comprehensive Energy Strategy, which the governor believes will put Connecticut on "a clear path toward cheaper, cleaner, and more reliable energy." 

Malloy chose Royal Ice Cream, which has been owned and operated by the Orfitelli family since 1926, because the local business recently converted from heating oil to natural gas and realized a major savings on its monthly fuel bills. Such conversations are a cornerstone of Malloy's new energy strategy. 

“Royal Ice Cream is one of Connecticut’s iconic small businesses. Handed down over three generations, this is a family businesses that helps drive our state economy—and a great example of why the option to switch to natural gas is so important,” Malloy said. “In switching to natural gas, Royal has reduced their heating costs by more than 50 percent — a margin that is very important to operations.”

Owner Jim Orfitelli estimated that his business used about 3,000 gallons of oil a year, and at $4.25 a gallon that works out to an annual cost of about $12,750. By switching to natural gas, Orfitelli said that he shaved his monthly fuel bill in half and estimates that he will save about $7,290 in fuel costs this year alone. It cost the business $3,200 to convert from oil to gas, so Orfitelli said that the conversion should pay for itself in about five months. 

"It's been a tremendous savings, our gas bill has been cut in half," said Orfitelli. "We were spending on the average about $1,100 a month on home heating oil. We spend about $525 on gas for the exact same service. As far as I'm concerned, it's a no-brainer." 

Malloy said Connecticut was "underperforming" in terms of the number of residents and businesses with the option of converting to natural gas was only about 30 percent, far behind other states in the area, and that there was the opportunity to save a large number of Connecticut residents and businesses "a lot of money."

He said such savings would help expand the Connecticut economy. 

"You want to know what happened to manufacturing in Connecticut?" Malloy said. "With a 30 percent penetration rate, and natural gas not being available to many of our manufacturers unless they moved - they moved. But they moved to states that had natural gas in plentiful supplies and a delivery system that made some relative sense to them." 

Other aspects of Malloy's Comprehensive Energy Strategy include: 

  • A series of energy efficiency initiatives to reduce energy costs and lower consumption, including a new website, Energizect.com, that provides a hub for all of the state’s energy efficiency programs and the creation of a new office, the Office of Energy Efficient Businesses, to help small businesses develops strategies to reduce energy consumption. 
  • Lowering the use of energy in the transportation sector through alternative fuels and vehicles. 
  • And an improved electrical grid and a greater investment in "microgrids," which are smaller scale generation networks that will help vital facilities like hospitals, wastewater treatment plants, and municipal hubs maintain power in the event of large-scale power outages.
Richard Poulton February 20, 2013 at 02:05 PM
So everyone switches to NG. Then what do you do when down the road the cost per CF doubles? Do you actually think the DPUCA can stop such increases? No they will not.
Pem McNerney February 20, 2013 at 02:29 PM
I was thinking the same thing, because there are often significant shifts in prices over the course of time. Still, if the payback period is a series of months, rather than years for a given business or home (maybe it would be longer for a home that doesn't burn as much fuel ... ) ... it might make sense ... Are there dual fuel furnaces? That way a business or home could hedge its bets. And I think you are right, there is only so much the government can do to rein in price increases, so we all are at the mercy of the market ultimately.
Bill Cash February 20, 2013 at 04:49 PM
You need some infrastructure for natural gas. I just got a new oil furnace but where I live there wasn't much option because we'd have no way to get natural gas to the house.
Dom March 19, 2013 at 09:45 PM
Natural gas will not be so cheap forever. It's a good short term strategy but a foolish long term one. The only real answer is clean renewable energy that will NEVER go up in cost.


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