2021 Webinar Series - 23 Heating Sector Electrification Impact on the Electric Grid

How Will Heating Sector Electrification Impact the Electric Grid?

A review of published projections from the NYISO predicting the timeline for changes in peak summer and winter electric demand. Also an electrification impact study conducted by the Brattle Group will be discussed. The relative efficiency of electrification technologies does matter, and has a profound impact on the arrival and intensity of summer and winter electric peak demand and related electrical infrastructure investments required. Register here.


  • Jens Ponikau / Buffalo Geothermal
  • Mark Kleinginna / Penn State University







          1. What efficiency upgrades were assumed alongside heat pump installations?
            1. Kleinginna - None
          2. Does the relatively flat COP curve (shown) for GSHP account for the drop in loop inlet temperature as the run fraction increases under very cold outdoor conditions?
            1. Ponikau. Loops usually stabilize around 30F EWT. See example of a 12 month loop profile in Buffalo NY below:
              12 month Loop Profile
          3. I don't understand why the first presenter suggested a COP of 1.5 in regards to peak demand durations.  In my experience and from review of ASHP field studies, ASHP equip will operate at a much lower COP - closer to 1.0 under design conditions and especially at extreme peak conditions
            1. Kleinginna - 1.5 was assumed for conservatism. 
          4. Jens - can you explain the .94 Coefficient of performance for air source at winter peak conditions you used in your slide? 
            1. Ponikau See answer #3. Alse things like defrost cycles are not fully accounted for in the rating of ASHPs. For defrost the run in reverse, chilling down the indoor coil. Now the indoor coil has to be heated up again in order to heat the space. Also the makeup heat during the defrost cycle in not accounted for in the rating. 
          5. Has any research been done to compare total statewide costs of deploying enough GSHPs to avoid these winter peak problems vs. a strategy of overbuilding and curtailing wind and solar vs. solar plus storage?
            1. Kleinginna - this is a great area for research, but I am not aware of such a comprehensive look at the situation.
            2. A: Ponikau No, this is just the beginning to alert everybody to the fact that we need to have those kind analysis done.
          6. What is the potential of biomass heat (wood pellets, wood stoves) for meeting winter peak loads? 
            1. Ponikau That is certainly a potential, but now a secondary heating system is being used and maintained. Not sure if that is desirable. Just to be clear, the solution is simply to operate at a COp of 4.0 (GSHP) and not at a COP of 1.0 (ASHPs)
          7. We have HPHW units today, why would you assume all electric resistance for hot water?
            1. Ponikau. I did not assume this, the NYISO impact study did so. However HPWH take the heat out of the conditioned space, and there increase the heating load, which an ASHP is already struggling to meet. 
          8. While we know solar is not available in winter early morning hours, what are the capacity profiles of wind (both on and offshore) in early morning winter hours?
            1. Wind produces well at night, but tails off as the sun comes up. 
          9. Did the 2020 NYISO forecast on load growth from EVs and air source heat pumps consider using EV batteries as a source of power for building heat pumps? If a Ford F150 Lightning can power a house for 3 days, wouldn't they be able to meet the winter peak during those early morning hours?
          10. Why is the peak demand for ASHPs in the early morning? Does this assume people are using set-backs in temperature overnight? Doesn't this illustrate the point that we need to educate people installing heat pumps to NOT use set backs since heat pumps work more efficiently at a constant temperature?
            1. Kleinginna - All heating, including natural gas, peaks in the WInter during the hours end 0600-0800. 
          11. Are the utility regulators paying attention to this reality?
            1. Kleinginna - In my opinion they are not paying attention to this situation in enough detail. 
          12. Have you evaluated the use of off-peak rates combined with thermal storage as a means of incentivizing hardware selection and  displacing peak demands?
            1. Kleinginna - I have not. It would be the natural way to go, given the value stack on both the generation AND distribution side. 
          13. Did the Peak Electric Demand projections include ASHP with back-up Resistance heat or without?
            1. No, it did not
          14. Did any of the Peak Demand projections include improvements in Building Envelope performance?
            1. No
          15. What COP and EER should we be shooting for so customers will pay no more on their utility bills than with a high efficiency gas and A/C system they seem attached to?  Seems like this plays into customer acceptance.
            1. Kleinginna - I am not sure, but it seems like a problem that could be pretty easily mapped. 
          16. How critical is waste heat recovery and sharing across buildings?
            1. Kleinginna- obviously any help we can get from other buildings is helpful regardless of the ambient air conditions. 
          17. What is the realistic maximum increase in COP/SEER do you anticipate will be obtained by improved AC/heat pump systems?
          18. For electrification retrofits, what’s the reasonable balance that we can assume across New York State (or Northeast) between ASHP and GSHP?
          19. Could people have wood stoves and be alerted by email when they would get a credit to turn off their ASHP?
            1. Kleinginna- I suppose, but how realistic is this type of DER? 
          20. When you talk about GSHPs/geothermal and storage, i think it would be to clarify that this does not include intentional storage.   For example, it does not include using some ground loops to increase ground temps with solar thermal.  Or the inverse with cooling towers to sub cool loops.  These forms of storage are not being thought of much currently, correct?
          21. What would you say to people that are concerned with puncturing the earth’s crust with 500ft plastic straws that are pretty much permanent? What are the potential long term foreseen (and unforeseen…) consequences?
          22. The usage and peak demand projections are based on overall statewide usage correct? Have these been scaled down to see what the effects are within each NYISO Load Zone?  Different areas have load pocket issues some areas may fair better than others.
            1. Kleinginna - my load calculations were not Load Zone specific, but could be made to be so. 
          23. This suggests that PSC should forthwith get gas distribution companies out of that business model - especially keeping them from expanding distribution lines and customer base - and into selling heat as a service with common ground loop that they own.
            1. Kleinginna - yes it does indeed. 
          24. It seems like the trickiest areas to deal with the winter peak are urban areas becasue of the cost of upgrading the distribution gird, but isn't this also the most costly location for geothermal loops.  How much more expensive is it to drill a geothermal loop in NYC than upstate?
          25. Jens, would you address how Geo systems provide "thermal storage" with a little more detail.
          26. Even if we assume that we can build community scale systems for buildings in urban cores, there will need to be millions of bore holes drilled for residential and other buildings. Any estimates on how much that will cost and how we can possibly scale up the capacity to do that?