Written on: July 22, 2014 by ICM
By Luther Turmelle, New Haven Register: New standards for the level of sulfur found in home heating oil that can be sold in Connecticut are now in effect, a move designed to promote cleaner air and burn more efficiently in furnaces.
Thanks to a new law enacted by lawmakers during this year’s legislative session, the sulfur content of home heating oil went from 3,000 parts per million to 500. The change took effect Tuesday.
Chris Herb, president of Connecticut Energy Marketers Association (CEMA), said “cleaner fuels are something that our customers have been demanding.” The group, which represents 600 family-run home heating oil companies in the state, had lobbied the Connecticut legislature for the change.
“This new fuel will drive down costs for consumers, benefit the environment and improve the life of heating systems and their efficiency without any changes or modification to heating equipment and tanks found in homes and business across the state,” Herb said in a phone interview Wednesday. “Our industry is excited to bring to the market a cleaner and more efficient fuel that benefits consumers and the environment.”
The sulfur content reduction in home heating oil will result in the removal of 10,000 tons of sulfur dixoide from Connecticut’s air, according to the state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection. Increased levels of sulfur dioxide exacerbates breathing problems such as asthma.
The amount of sulfur found in home heating fuel will be reduced even further four years from now, down to 15 parts per million. Steve Guveyan, executive director of the Hartford-based Connecticut Petroleum Council, said the four-year time frame before implementing further reductions in sulfur content gives refiners time to plan, engineer, procure, construct and permit de-sulfurization units here in the United States, thereby expanding the supply of heating oil.
Connecticut was not alone in reducing the sulfur content in its home heating oil, Guveyan said. Lawmakers in Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Vermont and New Jersey passed similar legislation that took effect Tuesday.
“It is in the best interest of the consumer to have consistent fuel supply rules throughout the Northeast,” he said. “One does not want to be out-of-step with the surrounding states because it can wreak havoc with supply and demand if fuel is barred from crossing a state line, especially during cold weather.”
Herb said the sulfur reductions are an effective weapon as home heating oil companies attempt to hold onto their customer base in the face of a massive expansion of the natural gas distribution network in Connecticut over the next 10 years.
“We can continue to blend home heating oil with bio-fuels so that it burns cleaner than natural gas,” he said.
And a cleaner burning fuel, according to Herb, results in the need for less frequent maintenance of an oil-fired home heating system.
“With the higher amount of sulfur content, it was usually advisable to have your oil furnace serviced one a year,” he said. “Less need for maintenance ultimately saves customers money.”
Call Luther Turmelle at 203-789-5706.