New England has a long history, stretching back to the beginnings of the American colonies. As one of the earlier members of the region, Connecticut boasts many impressive traditions. The state is known as The Constitution State for the key role its representatives played in drafting the country’s founding document, as well as The Nutmeg State for reasons that still baffle historians. But while areas like Maine, New Hampshire and Vermont remain comparatively lightly developed, Connecticut has emerged as an important economic and industrial hub.
The state is one of the smallest in the union, larger only than tiny Rhode Island and Delaware, but it hosts a population of nearly 3.6 million people, the 29th largest population in the country. This makes Connecticut the fourth-most-densely populated state in the country behind only nearby Massachusetts, Rhode Island and New Jersey.
The state boasts a diverse array of cultures, largely from Europe, with major populations of English, Irish and Italians and smaller groups of African Americans, Germans and others. However, Connecticut’s population also represents a wide spread of income levels, with the third-highest median income in the country and one of the 10-poorest cities in the nation in Hartford.
Despite this, the state hosts an impressively diverse economy for its size, featuring major manufacturing centers for everything from pharmaceuticals to helicopters and submarines as well as one of the country’s largest insurance hubs.
Between the tightly-packed population and the sizable heavy industries, the state has seen steadily growing demand for electricity. The vast majority of the state is served by two main utility companies – United Illuminating and Connecticut Light & Power. However, with so much congestion in the state, electricity prices rose to some of the highest anywhere in the country. In 2010, the U.S. Energy Information Administration reports that the state averaged 17.39 cents per kilowatt-hour, second only to the isolated island state of Hawaii.
According to the EIA, the state draws the majority of its electricity from nuclear power and around another one-third from natural gas, though a decade ago much more came from petroleum. Particularly as natural gas prices rose, electricity rates in the state surged. With these pressures, the state decided to implement electricity deregulation in 1998, opening up the market to retail electricity providers by 2000.