Located between New York’s Hudson River Valley and Rhode Island’s Narragansett Bay, Connecticut is home to 3.5 million people and encompasses 5.5 thousand square miles, making it the third smallest state by area, the 29th most populous, and the fourth most densely populated of the fifty states.
Connecticut’s topography varies from hilly slopes in the northwestern portion of the state to the southeastern coast along the Long Island Sound. Its climate, like many of its Southern New England neighbors, is experiencing shorter and warmer winters, hotter summers, longer and more intense heat waves, rising sea level, and bigger rain storms – all things that show climate change isn’t something that’s coming, it’s something that is here. Since the beginning of the 20th century, Connecticut’s temperatures have increased an average of 3 degrees.
Connecticut’s greatest climate change risks are inextricably intertwined with its 217 miles of Long Island Sound shoreline. Nearly 40 percent of its population lives in 36 coastal communities, all of which now face a dangerous combination of rising water levels and frequent storms.
As sea levels have risen along the Connecticut coastline, the number of tidal flood days have gradually increased overwhelming storm drains. Global sea levels are projected to rise another 1 to 4 feet by 2100 as a result of both past and future emissions from human activities, and even greater increases can be expected along the northeast U.S. coast following historical trends.
Natural gas and nuclear power fueled almost 95% of Connecticut’s utility-scale electricity generation in 2020. Only one nuclear power plant exists in Connecticut, the 2,073-megawatt Millstone nuclear power station. It supplied 38% of Connecticut’s net generation. Connecticut had one remaining coal-fired power plant at the Bridgeport Harbor Station, which contributed less than 0.1% of the state’s net generation in 2020. It closed in 2021. Renewable resources (primarily solar, biomass and hydroelectric) provided about 5% of Connecticut’s electricity net generation in 2020 with petroleum contributing less than .1%
Connecticut does not have any crude oil reserves and does not produce or refine petroleum. However, a pipeline originating in New Haven delivers refined petroleum products to central Connecticut and terminates in central Massachusetts. About seven-tenths of the petroleum consumed in Connecticut is used in the transportation sector, primarily as motor gasoline. Connecticut does not have any natural gas reserves or production. Nor coal.
The Connecticut legislature has taken multiple steps to combat climate change and global warming. They first passed landmark legislation in 1990 and immediately strengthened it with an Act Concerning Connecticut Global Warming Solutions requiring the state to reduce emissions by 10 percent (from 1990 emissions) by 2020, as well as mandating an 80 percent reduction (from 2001 emissions) by 2050. Their renewable portfolio standard (RPS), created in 1998, has been revised several times since then. It now requires that increasing amounts of electricity sold in the state be generated from renewable resources, reaching 40% by 2030. Additionally, in June, 2019, Connecticut’s governor called for 100% carbon-free power by 2040 and almost simultaneously Connecticut’s Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (DEEP) issued a RFP to solicit proposals to install up to 2,000 megawatts of offshore wind generating capacity by 2030. The state now has two offshore wind projects: Revolution Wind, developed by Eversource Energy and Orsted, as well as Park City Wind, developed by Vineyard Wind.
The following year, in December, 2020, DEEP published a roadmap to achieve a 100% zero carbon electric sector by 2040. Six months later, in June, 2021, the governor signed another bill establishing a goal of deploying 1,000MW of energy storage by the end of 2030, making it the eighth state to set an energy storage target.
Later that same month, West Hartford became the first town in Connecticut to commit to 100% clean energy, adopting a new Comprehensive Energy Plan and joining 14 counties, nine states, Washington D.C., Puerto Rico, and more than 180 communities across the United States in that commitment. A month later, Hamden, a town of about 62,000, approved an energy plan to build its first microgrid by 2025.
Connecticut is one of twenty four states, and Puerto Rico, committed to the U.S. Climate Alliance, which is working to implement policies that advance the goals of the Paris Agreement.