As part of the implementation process of the Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act, on February 4, 2021 Energy Efficiency and Housing Advisory Panel had a public engagement session. The agenda included their preliminary draft recommendations that are under consideration. This post presents those recommendations with minimal comment. I believe that most New Yorkers have no clue about the Climate Act, much less what will be required to meet the target goals. These recommendations ought to be a wakeup call to them.
The Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act (CLCPA) establishes targets for decreasing greenhouse gas emissions, increasing renewable electricity production, and improving energy efficiency. I have summarized the schedule, implementation components, and provide links to the legislation itself at CLCPA Summary Requirements and have also developed a summary of the implementation requirements. In addition, I have written extensively on various aspects of the law. I have described the law in general, evaluated its feasibility, estimated costs, described supporting regulations, listed the scoping plan strategies, summarized some of the meetings and complained that its advocates constantly confuse weather and climate. The opinions expressed in this post do not reflect the position of any of my previous employers or any other company I have been associated with, these comments are mine alone
Preliminary Draft Recommendations
The summary of the recommendations included six slides. The screen captures of each slide is shown below with a few brief notes. Update 2/6/21: The meeting presentation with these slides is available here.
There have been similar strategies proposed for some cities but the recommendation to ban gas/oil for space heating, water heating, cooking and dryers for an entire state is a first. I doubt that many in New York have any inkling that this is seriously being considered.
This strategy is for multi-family apartment buildings as well as commercial and industrial buildings.
If they go through with these strategies then a lot of workers will be required but any claims about the number of jobs should be sure to consider the jobs lost too.
My particular concern is home heating and the transition away from fossil fuel options. According to the most recent NYSERDA Patterns and Trends document in 2016 NYS residential fuel use was 75% fossil fuels. The same document notes that there were 7,209,054 occupied housing units and 6,061,315 or 84% of them used fossil fuels for space heating. If non-fossil fuel alternatives were cheaper, then those percentages would be smaller. Even access to “low-cost capital” comes at a price. How much is needed and where will it come from?
The costs of these programs is going to be huge and this strategy does not include the cost of electrical service upgrades in neighborhoods. When heating and transportation is electrified it is unlikely that existing distribution networks will be able to handle the loads without upgrades.
Every Advisory Panel includes anti-natural gas ideologues amongst its membership. The language in this strategy reflects that. I also think this obsession to get rid of fossil-fuel heating sources will lead to much greater reliance on wood-fired stoves for heat. If that comes to pass the public health impacts will be much greater than the health impacts alleged to be associated with natural gas and oil.
When I was growing up during the 1950’s I remember the excitement when natural gas came to town so that my family no longer had to deal with maintaining our coal-fired furnace fire, dealing with the ashes and having a coal bin in the basement. My first house had an oil-fired furnace and I do not miss dealing with an oil tank in the basement and worrying about oil deliveries. Natural gas is simply more convenient and cleaner than other alternatives. As a result, I like natural gas for heat, hot water, cooking, drying clothes, and, I even have a whole-house generator powered by natural gas. In addition to cost savings, I am not comfortable that an all-electric home would protect my family in the event of a prolonged power outage. In the last 40 years we have only had a couple of multi-day outages but we survived because we had access to natural gas.
Frankly I was taken aback by these recommended strategies. I have been following this implementation process and it was clear that fossil fuels would have to be banned but seeing that spelled out still was a shock. In the introduction I said that I thought most people have never heard of the CLCPA much less had any idea of what would be required to meet the law’s mandates. When people start hearing about these plans, I imagine enormous pushback. I can only hope.