Connecticut hopes to catch natural gas boom

In this Tuesday, Feb. 21, 2012 photo, oil field workers drill into the Gypsum Hills near Medicine Lodge, Kan. An emerging oil boom has been sparked by modern technologies using horizontal drilling and a technique known as hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, to coax out oil and gas. The potential production from the Mississippian Lime formation here and its impact on domestic energy supplies remains uncertain. But the use of the technology to unlock energy supplies previously unavailable in the United States is now in play in places like Pennsylvania, Wyoming, Colorado, New Mexico, Texas, http://www.cheapjerseys11.com/ Oklahoma and Louisiana. (AP Photo/Orlin Wagner)In this Tuesday, Feb. 21, 2012 photo, oil field workers drill into the Gypsum Hills near Medicine Lodge, Kan. An emerging oil boom has been sparked by modern technologies using horizontal drilling and amore

Photo: Orlin Wagner, Associated Press

FILE in this June 25, 2012 file photo, a crew works on a drilling rig at a well site for shale based natural gas in Zelienople, Pa. has fallen dramatically to its lowest level in 20 years, and government officials say the biggest reason is that cheap and plentiful natural gas has led many power plant operators to switch from dirtier burning coal. Many of the world’s leading climate scientists didn’t see the drop coming, in large part because it happened as a result of market forces rather than direct government action against carbon dioxide, a greenhouse gas that traps heat in the atmosphere. (AP Photo/Keith Srakocic) less

FILE in this June 25, 2012 file photo, a crew works on a drilling rig at a well site for shale based natural gas in Zelienople, Pa. In a surprising turnaround, the amount of carbon dioxide being released into. more

Photo: Keith Srakocic, Associated Press

As a result, Connecticut residents have one of the highest reliances in the nation on home heating oil, an expensive energy source.

How expensive? In 2011, it cost $868 to heat an average home in the Northeast with natural gas compared to $2,238 with home heating oil, according to the. That price disparity will continue into the near future, an agency spokesperson said.

With much of the nation tapping into natural gas, the state’s is poised to call for making natural gas a major thrust of the state’s long term energy plan. So are the three gas companies that serve Connecticut and who see a market for their product.

Yankee Gas, part of Northeast Utilities, says it wants to spend $2.5 billion over the next decade to add 200,000 new customers in Connecticut.

“It’s about demand,” said Yankee Gas spokeswoman. “We are inundated with calls from residents who aren’t able to get natural gas.”

Yankee Gas now wants to expand into areas where it sees demand developing, Saunders said, rather that wait until it has commitments from customers.

Likewise,, director of communications for, which owns the state’s two other natural gas companies Connecticut Natural Gas and Southern Connecticut Natural Gas said the two companies have set a goal of adding 30,000 to 35,000 customers a year for the next three years.

The companies are banking on rising consumer demand because of the cheapness of natural gas.

“It’s why we are so bullish,” West said. “It’s simple economics.”

The two pipelines that bring gas to the state are also aware of cheap jerseys the prospects of expanding in Connecticut.

, spokeswoman for Spectra Energy, the company that owns the Algonquian pipeline, said Spectra has been in discussions with both natural gas distributors in Connecticut and state regulators about expanding in New England.

“Algonquian is eager to furnish more gas to the region,” Grover said. But before that happens “we need the market demands.”

And while Iroquois Gas Transmission System has no plans to expand its pipeline facility in the state, it can increase its supply of gas by increasing compression and other methods, spokesperson said.

The Malloy administration’s intentions will be made more clear in mid September, when the DEEP releases the state’s first Comprehensive Energy Strategy an attempt to realign Connecticut’s energy mix for the future.

DEEP spokesman said natural gas will be a “key part” of that plan.

Schain, like others, sees the advance in natural gas production as an opportunity to move the world away from coal and oil toward an energy mix that increasingly relies on renewable fuel sources like solar, wind and hydropower,

“It’s a bridge to a clean energy future,” he said.

But it will cost a lot of money to build that bridge. Expanding natural gas use means expanding natural gas lines into new areas of the state, then getting homeowners to hook up to those lines. That will cost some serious money

, spokeswoman for Yankee Gas said that the cost of hooking up a home to natural gas varies, largely depending on the distance from the home to an existing main.

But, she said, if all expenses are included extending the main line, if needed; buying new gas equipment; and a hiring a contractor to install it the cost to convert a single family home to natural gas heat and hot water is about $7,500.

“With the current price advantage and increased energy efficiency, that investment will pay for itself in just a few years,” Duncan said.