It might seem less than coincidence that as the Malloy administration put forward its comprehensive energy strategy — with its key component a large-scale conversion from heating oil to natural gas — that the oil guys are undergoing a makeover.

Actually it IS pretty much coincidence.

The Independent Connecticut Petroleum Association early this year announced it had changed its name to the Connecticut Energy Marketers Association. Perhaps tired of being tagged as the oil guys — as in oil costs a lot and natural gas does not?

Not exactly, said Gene Guilford, ICPA turned CEMA president. The name change process started two years ago. “It seems to take a very, very long time, which ours did,” he said. “This organization was just catching up to its members.”

Seems Guilford, et al. wanted it known that the oil guys don’t just deliver oil. They handle propane, motor fuels, commercial and industrial natural gas, some sell electricity, they’ve done service work for more than a century — nowadays mainly heating ventilation and air conditioning.

But more to the point, many do home energy conservation work.

“I think that anytime we run into folks, especially the guys in Hartford — ‘oh the oil guys,’” Guilford said. “We do more than that. It probably was the impetus for changing the name.”

But it’s also no secret that oil has become the big bad guy because of its increased cost. And ICPA/CEMA has made it clear during the public comment period on the energy strategy that their livelihoods are on the line with the push for gas conversions. But was the name change ICPA running away from that petroleum word?

“We’re not running away form core of our business,” Guilford said. “We ARE the oil guys.”

A statement Guilford may not be making for much longer. He leaves CEMA this week after 10 years of running it. Next stop, to be determined. Replacement, also to be determined.

Jan Ellen is CT Mirror's regular freelance Environment and Energy Reporter. As a freelance reporter, her stories have also appeared in The New York Times, The Boston Globe, Yale Climate Connections, and elsewhere. She is a former editor at The Hartford Courant, where she handled national politics including coverage of the controversial 2000 and 2004 presidential elections. She was an editor at the Gazette in Colorado Springs and spent more than 20 years as a TV and radio producer at CBS News and CNN in New York and in the Boston broadcast market. In 2013 she was the recipient of a Knight Journalism Fellowship at MIT on energy and climate. She graduated from the University of Michigan and attended Boston University’s graduate film program.

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