Testimony on H.B. 5004, An Act Concerning The Implementation of Certain Climate Change Measures


Testimony from Operation Fuel Policy & Public Affairs Associate, Mike Turaj – March 8, 2024

Co-Chairs Rep. Gresko, Sen. Lopes, Ranking Members Rep. Callahan, Sen. Harding and Vice Chairs Rep. Palm and Sen. Hochadel and Honorable Members of the Environment

Operation Fuel would like to thank you for the consideration of our written testimony in support of Section 17 of H.B. 5004, which develops and implements a plan for the installation of not less than 310,000 heat pumps. Operation Fuel looks forward to the opportunity to collaborate with PURA, DEEP and the CT Green Bank on this plan, as Operation Fuel has an ongoing program that assists qualified households install heat pumps and weatherize homes. Operation Fuel would also suggest that the committee combine H.B. 5439, An Act Concerning Heat Pump Adoption (currently before the Energy and Technology Committee) with this bill.

In 2022, Operation Fuel launched the Better Homes and Buildings Program (BHBP) toaddress barriers, weatherize homes, and install heat pumps in low-and moderate-income (LMI) households in underserved communities across Connecticut. According to Energy.gov1, heat pumps transfer heat from a cool space to a warm space and the most common type of heat pump(ducted air-source) can reduce electricity use for heating by approximately 65% compared to furnaces and baseboard heaters. In 2022, Operation Fuel received a Healthy Communities Grant through the EPA for the community outreach and education portion of the project in New Haven and was granted a second grant from the EPA to expand efforts to Bridgeport. Along with that, Energize CT made a grant of $50,000 to provide outreach on the benefit of heat pumps. Operation Fuel received a $115,000 grant from the Community Environmental Benefit Fund for the Bridgeport Environmental Task Force (ETF) for the installation of heat pumps in Bridgeport. So far, we have aided in weatherizing 8 homes and have installed 20 heat pumps.

Operation Fuel collaborated with Neighborhood Housing Services (NHS) of New Haven in an outreach and education campaign, reaching around 6,000 individuals digitally and approximately 260 New Haven area residents through in-person education events. The outreach efforts identified 131 residents eligible for the I Heart My Home CT program, which helps renters, owner occupants and landlords make their buildings more energy efficient. More than 40 residents expressed interest in enrolling, once enrolled in I Heart My Home- 12 residents were selected for participation in the New Haven BHBP. Operation Fuel coordinated with contractorsand managed the budget for each project, while still providing ongoing education and technical assistance through the home energy upgrade.

The need for the program and for the deployment of heat pumps is essential in guiding Connecticut to an equitable modern grid and decreasing energy burden. Operation Fuel released our 2023 affordability study2 conducted by VEIC, measuring CT household costs of energy, housing, transportation and water. The affordability gap- the difference between an affordable level of spending and actual dollars spent- continues to rise. The affordability gap has increased to approximately $608 million, up 37% from $440 million in 2020. 424,000 households across Connecticut face unaffordable home energy costs. Working families with young children, people with medical conditions and elderly people who are living on a fixed income, are particularly vulnerable. Weatherization is a key tool to reduce energy burden and improve homes that face structural barriers or mold issues.

The robust deployment of heat pumps that provide beneficial energy and health improvements will require sizable investments. This is why Operation Fuel is also in support of H.B. 5438, An Act Concerning Energy Efficiency Funding and Programs (before the Energy and Technology Committee). If Connecticut wants to achieve the weatherization target of 80% of households by 2030, laid out in Public Act 11-80- Connecticut must invest in cost-effective, healthier weatherization programs for residents, like heat pumps. Connecticut must also guide customers and provide educational opportunities about weatherization programs residents can utilize to save on utility bills.
Operation Fuel supports Section 17 of H.B. 5004 and would be happy to collaborate in the push for 310,000 heat pumps across Connecticut.


Thank you for the opportunity to submit written testimony, for your leadership and your collaboration.