A key decision by the Public Service Commission about National Grid is looming. With the rejection of the Williams Pipeline, the PSC has a crucial decision to make on how the gas needs of National Grid’s downstate customers will be met. National Grid’s second choice as presented to the Commission is to build out other gas infrastructure, especially the Iroquois Pipeline.
Clean energy advocates have come out in favor of a no infrastructure option that involves energy efficiency, demand response, and heat pumps. As of 12:30 PM on Sunday June 7th 139 organizations, including NY-GEO, had signed on to a letter urging the Governor and the PSC to require the no infrastructure option.
Organizational sign ons to the letter are due by 10 AM Monday, June 8th. Individuals can submit a comment here. A decision by the PSC may come as early as its monthly meeting, this Thursday, June 11th.
Recent rate case settlements have included Beneficial Electrification Earning Adjustment Mechanisms (EAMs) under which utilities can earn bonuses for their stockholders by cutting carbon emissions through encouraging customers to buy electric vehicles or heat pump systems.
A few of the utilities have filed 1st Quarter EAM reports with numbers that seem like they were certainly impacted by the Coronavirus's shut down of the economy. See table below. The links to the EAM reports can be found here: National Grid, Central Hudson and Orange & Rockland.
The Brattle Group has prepared an important new study examining Rhode Island's options for decarbonizing the heating sector by 2050. To date, most studies of this type have narrowed their focus to air source heat pumps as the alternative to fossil fuel heating.
Brattle examined scenarios where air source and ground source heat pumps each carried 100% of the decarbonization load, as well as one where they each carried a third and renewable gas and oil carried a third.
The charts below, Sorted Electric Load Hours and Impact of Electrifying Heat via ASHP vs GSHP—2050, show the difference Brattle found in the impact on peak electric demand with the 100% ASHP and 100% GSHP scenarios. Peak demand is a key determinant of electricity prices, and Brattle found the 100% ASHP scenario would very significantly increase peak demand.
On May 28th, there was an excellent webinar by the New York City Peak Coalition, called "Replacing New York City's Dirty Peaker Power Plants with Renewables and Battery Storage."
It was an in-depth look at the impact of peaker plants—electric generating plants that come on line when demand for electricity peaks, usually on the hottest summer days. These plants are generally more polluting than other generating plants and have an impact on New Yorkers both as residents in environmentally assaulted neighborhoods and as utility ratepayers.
Slides and a recording of this webinar have been posted on the Clean Energy Group website. The report featured in the webinar, "Dirty Energy, Big Money," is available on the Peak Coalition website.
Itron, Inc. produced a December 2019 study for NYISO, which operates NY's electric grid. The study projects the impact of climate change and NY's climate goals on future energy needs. Part of the focus is on the heating sector.
The figure below illustrates the staggering reality of how many stoves, dryers, water heaters, and space heating units (furnaces and boilers) will need to go electric by 2050 if the residential heating sector is to reduce greenhouse gases by 85% by 2050—more than 6 million space heating units!
And if you're into important studies, the Brattle Group has produced an in-depth report on heating sector transformation in Rhode Island, which we will focus on in next week’s Just In!
On Tuesday May 26th, NY-GEO sent a letter to NYSERDA President and CEO Alicia Barton commending her for New York's leadership in instituting 0% financing under the Green Jobs, Green New York program. Clean energy projects will be a stimulus as the economy re-activates. The letter also urged that a companion loan program be developed to up the available financing to a total of $50,000 to allow more latitude in combining heat pump installations with solar panels, weather sealing and other measures to get New York's buildings where they need to be.
On Friday May 28th Conrad Metcalfe, Executive Director at the Building Performance Contractors' Association of New York State sent a support letter reinforcing the call for a companion loan as well as praise for New York's 0% initiative. Both these letters follow on the heels of one from Dandelion.
Clean Technica reported on a study that took place in Chelsea, Massachusetts, a low-income immigrant community near Boston. The study, "Natural gas leaks and tree death: A first-look case-control study of urban trees in Chelsea, MA, USA" is detailed in ScienceDirect.
Clean Technica reported:
It is not just the process of drilling for natural gas — that unnatural process — that bares the land of trees. We know that drilling, gas extraction, and fracking are associated with huge amounts of water contamination (fracking wastewater can even be radioactive), explosion hazards, and corruption of the human health. Yet, it is worse than that. "Natural gas" is also deadly for the trees that line our city streets…Trees help oxygenate, provide shading, and help cool the heat waves of summer.
It also quoted InsideClimate News noting:
Dead or dying trees were 30 times more likely to have been exposed to methane in the soil surrounding their roots than healthy trees…suggesting that the gas had leaked from natural gas pipelines, which are typically buried beneath roadways.
View the Clean Technica article and video here. And read the entire study at Science Direct.
Thanks to Green Energy Times. (2020 05 23) for alerting us to this item.
On May 15th NYSERDA submitted its Investment Plan under the Clean Energy Fund. The Clean Heating and Cooling Chapter includes the following:
Heat Pumps Phase 2 (2020)
- Phase 2 – will launch in 2020 and supports the NYS Clean Heat Program goals established in the Public Service Commission January 2020 Order. These initiatives will seek to rapidly accelerate market capacity and adoption of heat pumps across New York
See the Clean Heating and Cooling Chapter, which includes a $230 Million Building Electrification Investment Plan.
From Politico New York & New Jersey Energy (2020 05 19):
—FILING: More than 160 organizations signed a letter opposing the petition from Multiple Intervenors [MI] pushing for a halt to surcharges and a refund of unused funds for clean energy and energy efficiency to provide rate relief. MI's petition says they don't want to impede any progress on the state's clean energy goals but sees the pot of money that's not imminently going out the door as one way to help customers in the short term. One concern raised by the 160 organizations is that MI does not have a public list of its members online. Here's a list of Multiple Intervenors members from 2019.
NY-GEO board member Jens Ponikau has produced an interesting PDF on the implications of the NYISO 2020 Gold Book projections showing a change from summer peak to winter peak in the 2030's. The projected change results from assuming the electrification of vehicles, stoves and buildings (for space conditioning and water heating) using cold climate air source heat pumps. Geothermal heat pumps are not considered in these projections, yet they will play an important role in addressing peak demand issues.