From Green Energy Times (2019 11 14) on November 13:
Today, for the third month in a row, New Yorkers from across the state convened in Albany for the Public Service Commission (PSC) monthly meeting.
Inexplicably, the Energy Efficiency Order, expected in September, was once again not on the agenda. Following the PSC meeting, a campaign letter was delivered to the Governor’s Office praising his Tuesday morning letter to National Grid giving them 14 days notice of his intention to revoke their downstate gas franchise and laying out steps he can take to spearhead the transition to renewable heating.
From Politico New York Energy's
(2019 11 13) Marie J. French:
Gov. Andrew Cuomo warned National Grid in a letter Tuesday that he'd move to revoke the company's franchise in downstate New York if it didn't offer alternatives to the ongoing moratorium on new gas hookups. "If they can't come up with a plan to provide future gas supply, we'll find a utility who can," Cuomo said in an interview on NY1. "They're not the only utility in the world and a lot of companies would like to have this franchise, so they have 14 days to explain to the people of this state what the alternatives are and there can't be a moratorium." Cuomo has been by turns skeptical of the need for a moratorium before acknowledging gas constraint issues. He's suggested alternatives, including trucked or barged natural gas. He's also criticized the Public Service Commission, which he effectively controls but is statutorily independent, for failing to get ahead of the moratorium. National Grid imposed a halt to all new natural gas hookups after Cuomo's administration denied a key permit for the controversial Williams Northeast Supply Enhancement project on May 15. The utility says it won't be able to guarantee firm supplies of gas to new construction without the consistent supply from that pipeline, noting that trucked-in gas and other peaking supplies are not always reliable.
The labor and environmental coalition NY Renews is calling on the state to create a $1 billion annual fund to accelerate New York's transition to renewable energy, which could be spent on priorities like mass transit and/or environmental justice projects. The Letter to the Governor is strong on beneficial electrification.
Thanks to Politico New York (2019 11 04) and City and State New York First Read for alerting us to this item.
From Politico New York Energy's (2019 11 07) Marie J. French:
A joint proposal by Con Edison and the state Department of Public Service to hike utility rates runs afoul of New York's ambitious mandates to reach net-zero emissions by 2050, some environmental groups are warning. The proposal includes hundreds of millions in investments for new or upgraded fossil fuel infrastructure and defers planning for a future without natural gas. Environmentalists who did not support the proposal urged the Public Service Commission to reject it because those elements do not align with the state's new climate law. The Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act signed by Gov. Andrew Cuomo in July requires the state to reduce emissions 85 percent from 1990 levels by 2050 and use offsets for only the most difficult-to-tackle pollution. Meeting the statutory mandates requires eliminating all use of natural gas for heating and powering buildings — a challenging task given the state economy's current reliance on the fossil fuel.
..."As the regulator of the State's energy utilities, the Commission must oversee the transformation of New York's energy sector to 100 percent clean," wrote attorneys for the Pace Energy and Climate Center in comments filed Monday. "The PSC must step away from a business-as-usual approach to the energy system and require that utilities immediately make deep and swift cuts to their use of fossil fuels, stop spending ratepayer dollars on investment in fossil fuel infrastructure, and actually adhere to the goals of REV and the mandates in the [climate law.]"
Full disclosure: While NY-GEO agrees with many of the points raised in opposition to the Joint Proposal, we have signed on to the proposal and have submitted this support letter
NY-GEO board member John Manning produced an excellent 14 minute, 23 second video explaining geothermal heat pumps for a recent Heat Smart Central New York Open House.
View John's "Beer to Feet" explanation of how a heat pump works. Get your inner Beneficial Electrification Geek On with Mr. Manning.
"This Old House", the 40-year old home improvement TV show, filmed plumbing and heating expert Richard Trethewey instructing Kevin O'Connor on the science behind a heat pump in this video.
It closely examines the different pieces that make up the heat pump cycle by using a refrigeration unit and an air source heat pump.
Thank you to Jeff Howard for this tip.
From Politico New York (2019 11 01):
Gov. Andrew Cuomo on Friday acknowledged the looming shortage of natural gas supply in the New York City area and said the state needs to "sequence" its transition off the fossil fuel. "You need a transition plan. You need to transition to renewables, which we're working on — we have the most aggressive plan in the United States of America, but that doesn't mean you can turn off gas today, either," Cuomo told reporters.
Read the full article
, which includes a response comment from NY-GEO member Bob Wyman.
Thanks to Betta Broad, Outreach Director of New Yorkers for Clean Power
, for the tip.
Jeff McMahon of Forbes' Green Tech, has written an article on the Forbes website. It starts:
The boom times in America's natural-gas industry are not without their anxieties.
Many of those involve the looming climate crisis, which gives gas a leg-up over coal today but promises to knock it back down tomorrow.
Among the nine worries are young people, renewables and stranded assets.
With broad consensus that we must decarbonize our economy, the question is, how?
A Brattle Group report, "Achieving 80% GHG Reduction in New England by 2050" found that cutting emissions by 80% of 1990 levels by 2050 in New England would mean the demand for electricity would actually need to grow to roughly twice its current level.
The group assumed the adoption of heat pumps would be in a ratio of 75% air source and 25% ground source heat pumps.
It also projected the highest peak demand and strongest need for fossil fuel generation and battery, or other electricity storage, would be in winter.
It would be interesting to see how these projections changed if an adoption ratio of 75% GSHP and 25% ASHP was assumed instead.
Thank you to Green Energy Times (2019 10 19) and CommonWealth magazine for alerting us to this report.
Central Hudson Gas & Electric executives discussed the Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act (CLCPA) in the Daily Freeman in a Thursday interview.
During the interview, Charles Freni, Central Hudson President and CEO, and Anthony Campagiorni, Vice President of Customer Services and Regulatory Affairs, said the CLCPA could eventually require the utility to get out of the natural gas delivery business. This is because natural gas is not a form of renewable energy and, under the state legislation, could not be used as fuel.
Thanks to Politico New York Energy (2019 10 21) for alerting us to this item.
From the letter Governor Cuomo sent to Public Service Commission Chair John Rhodes regarding National Grid:
First, why did National Grid — and your agency for that matter — not better protect customers and consumers by exploring the alternatives to mitigate this obvious supply issue when it was first raised? Why did National Grid allow a crisis to be created that suits its benefit where it essentially extorts the State saying it is either approval of their natural gas pipeline or putting critical development on Long Island in serious jeopardy?
See also this substantial article from Politico New York and a pro-pipeline, anti-Cuomo article in the NY Post
Governor Cuomo was a guest on LI News Radio with Jay Oliver on October 15 speaking about the National Grid moratorium in the downstate region.
He said, in part:
The pipeline, if it was approved today, Jay, would take 12 months, 18 months to build, okay? That's the best-case scenario…Where was National Grid's plan to provide gas for the next year or 18 months?... How did they not prepare for this situation? And that was their legal fiduciary responsibility - and that's what the Public Service Commission has to investigate. How could you be turning off all these people when you were never going to get the gas in time anyway, even if the pipeline was built?
Listen to the entire interview
or read the radio interview transcript
See PSC Chair John Rhodes' order
for NGrid to hook up 1,157 residential and small business customers.
Boston’s updated Climate Action Plan calls for decarbonizing all new city-owned buildings, including city-funded affordable housing, which could cut citywide emissions nearly 40% by 2050.
Other building policies would be to invest in energy efficiency and renewable energy generation in municipal buildings, strengthen green building zoning requirements to a zero net carbon standard, develop a carbon emissions performance standard to decarbonize existing large buildings, expand workforce development programs for building decarbonization and advocate for state building policies that align with carbon neutrality by 2050.
In addition to building sector policy updates, greener transportation and energy supply are also addressed in the plan.
Thanks to Utility Dive (2019 10 16) to alerting us to this news item.
From Marie French, Politico New York Energy (2019 10 18):
Two Public Service Commissioners criticized National Grid's approach to a de-facto moratorium on new gas service downstate during a meeting on Thursday. The commissioners lambasted the utility for abruptly imposing a halt to new gas service. The PSC also endorsed, by a 4-1 vote, a one-commissioner order directing National Grid to reconnect 1,157 customers who were denied gas hookups. The order provides a remedy for small commercial and residential customers who previously had service but moved to a different location or had disconnected during renovations that didn't increase their gas usage. "I believe that this was an intentional, chaotic, confusing, pipeline approval strategy," said Public Service Commissioner Tracey Edwards, who is from Long Island. "I think that was just — it was mean." Grid officials have said they cannot safely provide additional firm gas service on Long Island and in Brooklyn and Queens without approvals for the controversial Northeast Supply Enhancement project to bring more supply to the region. The utility stopped processing new or increased gas service applications following the Department of Environmental Conservation's denial of a key permit for the pipeline in May.
—Bloomberg highlights the case of Providence House, a nonprofit that provides housing for homeless mothers and can't start operations because of a lack of gas. "The nonprofit took its case to the state's Public Service Commission... It looks like the move is paying off: In late September, the agency ordered National Grid to turn on the gas.
A new study, led by energy policy and economics expert Dr. Susan Tierney of the Analysis Group, finds several key benefits of carbon pricing. Read the key findings.
The study was cited in a NYISO proposal to put a carbon charge on fossil fuel burning proving “carbon pricing helps New York meet clean energy goals faster, more reliably, and at a lower cost."
The NYISO proposal puts a carbon charge on fossil fuel burning for electricity generation but not for on-site burning for heating buildings and internal combustion engines. Thus, it increases the price of electricity used to power heat pumps and electric vehicles but not the gas, propane or oil used for heating and the gasoline for motor vehicles that contributes significantly to high greenhouse gas emissions.
This could lead to unintended consequences by retarding the beneficial electrification of the heating and transportation sectors. This issue is not addressed in the key findings document.
See the Analysis Group Summary for Policy Makers.
Thanks to Politico New York Energy (2019 10 08) for alerting us to this item.
From Politico New York Energy (2019 10 09):
Rep. Paul Tonko, a Democrat representing New York, says he's optimistic targeted pieces of clean energy legislation will move through Congress in the coming months, including an extension of tax credits for both solar and wind.
Here is the text of H.R.3961 - Renewable Energy Extension Act of 2019
. Note that the geothermal heat pump tax credits would also be extended as part of the extension of Section 48 of the Internal Revenue Code.
National Grid faces millions of dollars in fines and must immediately provide natural gas service to 1,157 customers who were denied it as part of a moratorium declared by the company as it seeks state approval for a contested new gas pipeline.
Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo announced the measures on Friday afternoon as part of a preliminary finding by the state Public Service Commission, which is investigating the veracity of an impending gas shortage declared by the company and complaints by thousands of customers awaiting gas service. "National Grid has acted in bad faith throughout this process," Cuomo declared in ordering the company to restore or provide service to those deemed eligible under state public service law.
SANE Energy issued this response.
Renewable Heat Now is organizing folks to attend the October Public Service Commission meeting, where the Commission is expected to order New York's utilities to take over the heat pump incentive programs as part of the New Efficiency: New York proceeding.
Contact email@example.com or click here for more information.
New York State Senator James Sanders and stakeholders from the solar and geo industries were successful in sending off a letter this week to Senator Schumer, Speaker Pelosi and others pressing them to delay the phase down on the federal renewable energy tax credits. It was signed by 49 Assembly Members and 27 Senators.
Thank you to all NY-GEO members who reached out to their local legislators.
New York's recently signed Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act (CLCPA) includes groundbreaking methods for valuing the impact that burning fossil fuels has on climate. The more accurate and relevant criteria in the CLCPA includes rating greenhouse gases on a 20-year time frame instead of the outdated 100-year time frame NY had been using. It also includes impacts from the production, storage and transmission of fossil fuels.
Under these criteria, natural gas is a worse actor than oil or propane per unit of heat produced, largely because of methane leaks. On September 20th, Cornell Professor Robert Howarth submitted important testimony with quantifying data in the NYSEG/RGE rate case.
You can read the testimony, the case study and two pages of key quotes from the testimony here.