Opinion By: Chris Herb
The national debate regarding gas stoves, and federal efforts to potentially ban them, has ignited a national firestorm regarding government overreach and consumer rights. Since this debate surfaced on the national front, political pundits have been pointing fingers and taking aim: from communism to paranoia, to being flat out crazy.
No one is coming for your gas stove—some surmised.
While this may be the case on the federal front, here in Connecticut, there is some serious gaslighting going on when it comes to the state’s energy policy and what regulators really want to do. This could include an all-out ban on fossil fuels including home heating oil, natural gas, propane or anything that is combustible.
And yes, this could also mean taking away your gas stove.
State regulators at the Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental protection (DEEP) are considering a plan to make everything electric to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, which is a shell game considering the electric grid runs mostly on natural gas.
Just 21 minutes into the first DEEP technical hearing on September 1, 2022, one participant called for an all-out ban on gas stoves. Sarah Krame, with the Sierra Club, testified that in order to decarbonize the building sector, Connecticut needed to “Stop digging the hole deeper.” She testified. “We need to stop expanding the gas system and adding new customers and new buildings to it.”
Her testimony didn’t stop there.
“We need to implement zero emission appliance standards so that gas appliances in existing buildings are phased out and replaced with electric appliances,” Krame said. (Source: September 1, 2022, Zoom hearing @ 00:21:21 to 00:21:36)
The U.S. Green Buildings Council CT Chapter (see slide 20) also advocated for gas stoves to be replaced with electric stoves.
As you can see in the slide from that DEEP meeting, banning gas stoves is very much top of mind here in Connecticut. The state’s all-electric approach lacks vision, clarity, common sense, and puts the state’s energy future in the hands of the utilities, and mega monopolies, versus individual consumer choice.
This is also a matter of privacy. With efforts to electrify the economy, one environmental group is currently working to create an environmental scorecard for every single house in the state. So far, Connecticut Green Bank has color-coded almost every house in 78 out of the 169 towns in the state.
It’s a massive project which includes documenting what kind of fuel you use; what materials were used to build your home; what materials are in your walls, and even if you use air conditioning units in your windows.
“And so, with the identification system that has been created, we can track year to year—some of these pieces of information on how long, how many homes across the state are still heating with oil, gas? Who’s switched over to electrification? Where’s electrification happening more quickly? Where is there a greater uptake in the market? Where is there more resistance?” (DEEP Comprehensive Energy Strategy hearing on Sept. 23, 2022 Zoom video link at around 00:22:34)
That’s right: Where is there more resistance?
This makes big brother seem quite small.
During the presentation, Caleb Smith showed color-coded neighborhoods in East Hartford, Old Lyme and towns in the Northwest corner—just a snapshot of what they’ve collected so far.
“We plan to use this data in a ton of different ways, but you know, finding target communities for building electrification programs where some areas may be lagging behind for financial reasons or access reasons or others,” Smith said.
During the hearing Eric Shrago, Vice President of Operations for Connecticut Green Bank, said privacy issues were not violated because they used public tax records and state data obtained by the Office of Policy and Management (OPM).
However, I believe the collection of the master list blurs ethical lines: Connecticut Green Bank is using government data to compile a scorecard that could be used against private citizens. Could this be used in the future to calculate a new “carbon” tax on the fuel you use and the materials with which your house was built? Your home’s carbon footprint? Could this depreciate your house’s value or be used by the state to mandate new electrical upgrades? The answer to all the above is yes.
In fact, for two years in a row, policymakers proposed legislation (2021- SB 882; 2022- HB 5041 & SB 14) that would have essentially created energy scorecards for homeowners and rentals. Those bills stalled in the state legislature yet it appears DEEP may be enlisting the help of environmental groups to help further its agenda.
During the hearing, Connecticut Green Bank said People’s Action for Clean Energy (PACE) also helped fund the project with a purchase made with The Warren Real Estate Group. Data was supplemented where available from municipal parcel and CAMA datasets published by the CT office of Policy and Management under Public Act 189-175.
A backdoor around legislation? It sure seems that way.
Connecticut homeowners, business owners, and others need to know that this extreme invasion of privacy is happening right now.
If you’re worried that the government might be after your gas stove—be prepared—it’s actually much worse.
Chris Herb is the President and CEO of Connecticut Energy Marketers Association (CEMA)
The views expressed by the author do not necessarily reflect the views of Connecticut Inside Investigator.
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