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The devastation wreaked by Superstorm Sandy in 2012 has had a profound impact on New York City’s residents and elected officials. Since Sandy, the city has been aggressively working to reduce its carbon footprint.
On Dec. 7, 2015, the New York City Council passed the geothermal energy bill Int. 0609-A-2015. On Jan. 7, Mayor Bill de Blasio signed the local law to amend the administrative code of the City of New York, in relation to the use of geothermal energy in the city.
Sponsored by Council Member Costa G. Constantinides, this bill requires New York City to identify and implement geothermal heat pump installations in all its new construction and retrofits when it is shown that doing so would be cost effective.
New York Geothermal Energy Organization (NY-GEO) member Bob Wyman, who testified in favor of this bill, wrote “I believe this is the first time that any major city in the US has adopted legislation requiring the use of the Social Cost of Carbon in making spending decisions.” The bill establishes this cost as starting at $128/per metric ton (based on the high end of the federal government’s estimates) over a 20-year period.
Wyman goes on to suggest “It may also be the first time that a city has committed to evaluating geothermal heat pumps for all new construction and retrofits and using them when cost effective.”
There are three requirements in the geothermal bill:
- Identification of the types of geothermal systems and the buildings for which they would be suitable
- Adoption of rules and registration requirements for those who design and install geothermal systems
- Completion of a feasibility study of waterfront properties suitable for the installation of geothermal systems in marine surface waters.
Part of the identification process would include comparisons of conventional heating and cooling technologies with geothermal heat pumps regarding:
- Greenhouse gas emissions as a result of fuel and electricity consumption
- Impacts on criteria air pollutant concentrations
- Annual electricity consumption and impacts on peak demand reduction
- Potential revenue stream generated from the peak demand reduction using a dollar metric, where applicable
- Fuel and power costs
- Net present value of all alternatives considered, based on a 20-year life expectancy and capital costs, operations and maintenance, fuel costs, available federal, state and other non-city governmental funding assistance, and the social cost of carbon.
The bill also calls for an office or agency designated by the mayor to develop an online, publicly available screening tool no later than February 1, 2017. This tool will be used to determine whether an installation of a geothermal system may be cost-effective for a property.
It also requires:
- Setting up standards for the installation and maintenance of geothermal systems
- Determining qualifications for persons who will design or install such systems
- Maintaining a publicly available registry of such persons
- Informing property owners and installers of geothermal systems regarding the potential benefits of coupling a photovoltaic system with a geothermal system for buildings within the city
- Performing a technical and regulatory feasibility study on implementing a geothermal system for waterfront properties.
Geothermal installations are not new in New York City, but this enthusiastic move forward is. The Brooklyn Botanical Gardens, The Bronx Zoo and the Statue of Liberty are all heated and cooled with geothermal heat pumps. And Cornell University's planned NYC Tech Campus on Roosevelt Island will have a four-acre geothermal well field as part of its goal to be the largest net-zero energy building in the eastern United States.
Those with vision and a determination to deal with climate change are showing us all the way.
For another take on this legislation, see Jay Egg's blog on LinkedIn.
Governor Cuomo has vetoed the geothermal tax credit and sales tax exemption bills.
This is very disappointing but we are prepared to move forward.
The rationale expressed was that the bills would impact state revenues and the appropriate venue for revenue impacting legislation is in the budget.
Our legislative sponsors are looking to include these measures in the upcoming 2016-17 budget.
The budget will be proposed by the Governor at the beginning of the year and is scheduled to passed by April 1st and to take effect July 1st.
The Governor's comment line remains 518-474-1041 if you wish to express your opinion.
We will be in touch as things develop.
Thanks to all of you who participated in the petitions, letters and calls in support of this initiative.
Please stick with us as we move forward.
Legislation supporting the growth of geothermal heat pump (GHP) systems will create multiple wins for New York State, its geothermal industry and customers, as well as New Yorkers in general.
- It will make GHP systems more affordable and thus more economically attractive to all. Since geothermal heating and cooling is more efficient than conventional (oil, natural gas, propane and electric) systems, it uses less energy.
- As more residential and commercial property owners install geothermal heat pumps not only will their overall energy bills decrease, but so will the summer peak load demand on our electric grid. Peak demand is a major factor in setting and driving up electric rates.
- Although overall electricity consumption will increase, it will occur in the winter. Reducing peak demand in summer and adding to the electric load in winter (when its usage is otherwise low) increases the overall utilization of power plants. This evening-out of use can help to reduce electricity costs for all ratepayers in New York State.
The New York State Department of Public Service estimates that each 1% improvement in system efficiency (i.e. annual power plant capacity utilization) will yield from $221 to $330 million in annual savings to ratepayers across the state. This is due to lower supply and delivery investment needs.
- As similar legislation has aided the solar industry in creating thousands of jobs in our state, this same strategy will allow the burgeoning New York State GHP industry to become both more competitively priced and profitable. This sets up a positive feedback loop making it easier for more residential and commercial property owners to switch.
- It will provide more well-paying jobs—that cannot be outsourced—to help grow our economy. Occupations such as geothermal designers and engineers, installers, drillers and excavators, service providers, equipment distributors and manufacturers will be in greater demand.
- At the same time, this technology’s many benefits will help New York State meet its renewable energy and energy efficiency goals (“80 by 50”) as outlined in the 2015 New York Energy Plan and the Public Service Commission’s Reforming the Energy Vision (REV) initiative.
- The final winner will be New York State’s environment. As more consumers convert to non-combustion heating, smoke, particulate matter and greenhouse gases—which are implicated in climate change—will decrease. Cleaner air helps our most vulnerable residents—young children, the elderly and anyone with a respiratory condition—to breathe easier. And everyone benefits when climate change is abated.
Heat without fire. Cool with the ground.
©2015 Billii Roberti. Used with permission.
Are you concerned about how to keep your home warm as fossil fuel supplies continue to dwindle and the price rises?
Are you concerned about the air pollution your furnace or boiler is sending up your chimney?
Do you wonder if there is an alternative to high electric bills from air conditioning in the summer?
Geothermal heating and cooling can allay your concerns. It is the most efficient way to condition indoor spaces, by drawing up heat from the ground in winter and returning it in summer.