Topic:
SUPREME COURT DECISIONS; BLUE LAWS; STATISTICAL INFORMATION; ENERGY CONSERVATION; RETAIL TRADE;
Location:
BLUE LAWS; ENERGY CONSERVATION; RETAIL TRADE;

OLR Research Report


November 15, 2005

 

2005-R-0811

CLOSING STORES ON SUNDAYS FOR CONSERVATION REASONS

By: Ryan F. O'Neil, Research Assistant

You asked if any states have mandated or encouraged retail stores to close on Sundays. You also wanted to know if retail stores are closed on Sundays in Europe. You also are interested in the energy savings that might be realized if stores were closed on Sundays. Further, you requested details about why Connecticut's blue laws were overturned.

We were unable to find any states that are encouraging the closure of retail stores on Sundays for energy conservation. All states appear to allow stores to choose to open on Sundays.

Austria, France, Ireland, Italy, Portugal, and Spain have laws requiring most stores to be closed on Sundays. The United Kingdom, Germany, and the Netherlands all allow stores to open for a limited number of hours on Sundays, usually between a total of five to seven hours. All of the closures seem to have their roots in the Christian tradition and not in energy conservation. No information about energy savings is available.

In 1979, the Connecticut Supreme Court declared the state's blue laws unconstitutional. The Court concluded that there was no rational connection between (1) the items the legislature deemed appropriate to sell on a “day of rest” and (2) the establishments allowed to stay open to sell them. We have attached OLR Report 99-R-0431, which goes into more detail on this subject.

POTENTIAL BLUE LAW-CLOSURE SAVINGS IN CONNECTICUT

Chuck Goodwin, Director, Pricing Strategy and Administration for Northeast Utilities, states “based on our load data, if all retail businesses in CL&P's [Connecticut Light and Power's] service territory closed on Sundays, the total electricity saved is estimated to be only 0.17% of CL&P's total [annual] load.” CL&P's service includes 149 of Connecticut's 169 towns and more than 1.1 million customers.

Methodology

CL&P forecasters added up all the CL&P commercial retail hourly loads for all Sundays and some holidays in a year (about 60 days per year). This is roughly 120 GWH (gigawatt hours) per year for these 60 or so days. Then, they substituted the load in hour 1 each day (12:01 a.m. to 1 a.m.) for hours 2-24 (1:01 a.m. until 12:00 a.m.). For example, January 1 would have a new hourly load of 52 megawatts for every hour, another day might be 70 MW for every hour. The new flat loadshapes sum up to about 80 GWH per year, so the difference is about 40 GWH (120 GWH for a normal year minus the 80 GWH in a potential year with blue laws in effect). Forty GWH is 0.17% of CL&P's total annual output of 24,000 GWH.

Goodwin estimates that a certain portion of that 40 GWH savings would be lost as activity was shifted to other days, some of which would fall during the more expensive peak hours of Monday through Friday, 7 a.m. to 11 p.m. He has no way to estimate the total savings that would be lost or how much would be used on other days.