- Jan 6, 2021 9:11 pm GMT
This article is republished from the August 2020 issue of Strategies, AESP’s exclusive magazine for members. To receive Strategies, please consider joining AESP.
Real-Time Lessons from a Beneficial Electrification Program in New York State
By Evelyn Dean, Swapnil Gore, Meaghan Rush and Kathy Montijo
In 2019, New York State implemented one of the nation’s most aggressive policies on climate change, the Climate Leadership Community Protection Act (CLCPA). The CLCPA calls for an 85% reduction of greenhouse gas emissions by 2050. To support the CLCPA, PSEG Long Island, with its program designer and implementer TRC, incorporated new strategies to maximize the existing suite of energy efficiency programs’ savings, including measures that are powered by electricity rather than oil, propane, and gasoline. These new measures included lawn equipment, non-road vehicles, and heat pump pool heaters. Because these measures represent an increase in electric energy consumption, reporting savings in kWh was not appropriate. To align goals to better reflect the environmental impacts of the portfolio, PSEG Long Island’s savings targets changed from kWh reduction to fuel-neutral MMBtu reduction. Utilizing electricity to power equipment is more environmentally friendly than using fossil fuels such as gasoline and heating oil because the electric plants that power the grid use cleaner fuel. As the grid becomes cleaner through the use of more renewable generation sources, electric powered equipment becomes even more environmentally friendly.
The conference offered educational sessions on beneficial electrification measures and the importance of rebating these measures to achieve the state’s goals. Building on this momentum in 2020, beneficial electrification equipment was introduced into the residential products program, allowing people to apply for rebates for common beneficial electrification measures, such as lawn mowers and weed trimmers.
The Case for Heat Pumps
The program team started a new energy journey by analyzing equipment replacement scenarios that would result in the most greenhouse gas emissions savings. This led immediately to a review of home heating equipment. The vast majority of Long Islanders, nearly 90%, heat their homes with fossil fuels, 40% with oil.
Figure 1: Long Island Home Heating Source
While heat pumps have been offered in the electric utility’s energy efficiency portfolio for a number of years, the equipment was rebated under the residential air conditioning program as cooling equipment that can supply supplemental heating. Because kWh savings was the goal, the savings methodology included comparison against an inefficient heat pump baseline, and any displaced fossil fuel was not considered. As PSEG Long Island’s focus shifted to include beneficial electrification and MMBtu savings goals, that displaced fossil fuel savings could be claimed, and PSEG Long Island could invest more budget and rebate dollars in the promotion of air-source heat pumps. Air-source heat pumps are now promoted as a primary heating source. The residential efficiency heat pump programs provide substantial customer rebates and contractor incentives in order to increase participation and achieve the program’s savings goals.
With improved efficiency over air conditioners during the summer months, and lower operating costs than many boilers and furnaces during the winter months, heat pump technology can save customers money and improve indoor air quality by reducing the need for burning fossil fuels on-site.
Fuel-Neutral Calculation Methodologies
Lawn equipment is another great example of beneficial electrification and where a methodology modification was required. The below algorithm details how if there is negative kWh savings/increase in kWh there is positive overall MMBtu savings. Gasoline consumption is converted to MMBtus. Electric consumption is also converted to MMBtus. Together the gasoline and electric consumptions equate to PSEG Long Island’s BE MMBtu. The MMBtu savings associated with the fuel switch from gasoline to kWh is the sum of the two, yielding overall positive MMBtu savings.
• Electric equipment is perceived as more costly;
Brochure for the electric utility’s residential HVAC programs, describing the benefits of geothermal heating
PSEG Long Island addressed these potential market barriers by developing educational materials and conducting training sessions for the program’s network of trade allies, who are essential in delivering customers positive program experiences. The goal was to translate New York State policy into layman’s terms, making it clear that beneficial electrification is an effective tool for saving customers money and reducing greenhouse gas emissions.
Katherine Montijo is the Associate Director for TRC where she manages the Design, Tech Support, and Inspector Teams for PSEG Long Island. It is her responsibility to research, recommend, and design energy efficiency and demand reduction programs.
Meaghan Rush is a Program Design Engineer for TRC supporting the PSEG Long Island Energy Efficiency programs. She is responsible for researching, analyzing, screening, and implementing new, or evolving energy efficient technologies.
Swapnil Gore has a strong engineering background complemented with a double master’s degree in Energy Analytics & Policy, and Mechanical Engineering. He is TRC’s team lead for the technical support engineering group.
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