“I’m proud that my peers have faith in me to be able to do this and to help guide CEMA in the right direction. I am proud of what I’ve done but I haven’t been a lone crusader. Our whole industry is heading in the right direction.”

Stephen J. Sack Jr., Sack Energy & New CEMA Chairman of the Board

West Hartford, Conn: For as long as Stephen Sack Jr. can remember, his life has been about keeping people warm and safe during those cold New England months. The West Hartford resident and businessowner is now the fifth-generation owner of Sack Energy, and his family history tells the story of how the industry has dramatically changed during the last 100 years!

“In 1902, my great-great grandfather, Harris Sack, used horse-pulled wagons and sleighs to deliver coal to families during the winter months. In the 1920s, my grandfather, Sam Sack, went from shoveling coal in the basement to delivering home heating oil. In the 1990s, my father Stephen Sack Sr. went from using a high sulfur heating oil to a low sulfur heating oil. In 2000s, we changed to an ultra-low sulfur heating oil, which emits less sulfur dioxide (SO2 ) than natural gas. In 2010, I also changed the way we do business by starting to sell a biodiesel blend,” Sack said.

Today, Sack Energy is one of the largest biodiesel wholesale distributors in Southern New England. Biodiesel is a green, renewable, liquid fuel made from discarded cooking oil and soybean oil. As CEMA’s new chairman of the board, Sack said his main mission will be to fight statewide electrification efforts while advocating for CEMA members and biodiesel.

“Our industry–like many industries out there– is looking at the world and seeing that we need to be a contributor to lowering our greenhouse gas emissions and provide clean energy. You can’t put all your eggs in one basket, meaning, you can’t electrify everything in the world today. It just wouldn’t work! Our grid was never designed to power people’s homes and cars and everything else,” Sack said.

With the new direction that the home heating oil industry in Connecticut is taking, there is no need to electrify everything.

“Our industry has worked together to provide a low carbon solution of a deliverable, green liquid fuel. It’s helping to dramatically curb greenhouse emissions for residents and businesses here in Connecticut. There is this misconception about home heating oil that ‘You’re the dirty oil dealer,’ but that’s not true,” Sack said.

In Connecticut, the home heating oil industry is in the process of totally transitioning to renewable fuels. In July of 2022, Public Act No. 21-181 went into effect in Connecticut. This new state law requires home heating oil companies statewide to blend their fuel with renewable biodiesel. It’s a law CEMA members supported and lobbied for.

In one year alone, CEMA members have replaced 17 million gallons of home heating oil with biodiesel. This has reduced carbon emissions by 192,000 tons of CO2– the equivalent of removing 38,000 cars off our roads yearly, and that’s just with the 5 percent blend. As we go on in years, the blend percentage will increase. When the law is fully implemented, it will reduce CO2 emissions by two billion tons annually.

“The home heating fuel industry in Connecticut is on the path to getting to a zero-carbon fuel. We have a solution to lowering greenhouse gas emissions that is here today, not maybe someday in the future but here today. Homes that can burn oil can burn biodiesel without equipment changes or expensive electric upgrades. This is an enormous advantage since half the homes in Connecticut already use home heating fuel. And it’s the most cost-effective way to lower GHG emissions because we are already doing it,” Sack added.

Sack said he is honored to be the new chairman of the board of directors for CEMA.

“I’m proud that my peers have faith in me to be able to do this and to help guide CEMA in the right direction. I am proud of what I’ve done but I haven’t been a lone crusader. Our whole industry is heading in the right direction,” he said.

Sack said he’ll continue to work with state lawmakers and strengthen relationships, which have been the best they’ve been in 30 years.

Sack lives in West Hartford with his wife and four children. He is also a commissioner on the Sustainable West Hartford Commission and a treasurer with the Elmwood Business Association, a section of West Hartford that borders Newington, Hartford, and New Britain.