Electrification & Climate Change
As a solution to lessen the impact of climate change, lawmakers and energy policy makers throughout the Northeast are aiming to “electrify” the building and transportation sectors. To do so will require the elimination of all fossil fuels (heating oil, natural gas, and propane) for heating and cooling and moving towards electric powered cars and trucks. Widespread electrification to reduce carbon emissions will require that electricity in the Northeast be produced solely from renewable sources such as wind and solar.
Massachusetts Sets Ambitious Goals
Currently, ISO New England – the power producers for the region – produces only a small amount of its electric generation from renewable sources. Massachusetts has set a goal of net-zero carbon emissions by 2050 and has developed a long-term Decarbonization Roadmap to achieve a totally renewable electric grid over the next 30 years.
Meanwhile, an interim Clean Energy Climate Plan for Massachusetts has targeted the conversion of “one million residential gas, oil and propane” heated homes to electric air or ground source heat pumps by 2030.
The Facts About Electric Heat Pumps
Recent case studies conducted by Diversified Energy Specialists (DES) on residential heat pump rebate programs in Massachusetts and New York indicate that the cost to install residential heat pumps in existing homes with median square footage of 1,764 to 1,912 ranges from $17,260 to $22,843.
The DES studies concluded that “the installation of air-source heat pump systems at the residential level is too costly for most low-and middle-income homeowners in the northeast.” And based on data collected from the Massachusetts Clean Energy Center’s (MassCEC) heat pump rebate program “92.8% of the 622 retrofit installations retained their existing central heating system as a supplemental heat source.”
Further, MassCEC confirms that electric heat pumps are often installed to “supplement existing heating systems” and the utility-run Mass Save program does not “recommend fully replacing existing central heating systems with heat pump equipment.”
Addressing Climate Change with Clean, Renewable Biofuel
Homes and business using heating oil blended with renewable biofuel contribute to reducing greenhouse gas emissions without incurring the high cost of an electric heat pump installation. Biofuel is readily available throughout Massachusetts from local heating oil marketers. It is a drop-in clean fuel that does not require any heating system modifications.
In Massachusetts biofuel use is having a significant impact on reducing carbon emissions. Under the Department of Energy Resources Alternative Energy Portfolio Standard that incentivizes biofuel blends, heating oil use statewide has been cut by more that 46 million gallons since the program started in January 2018.
And in April 2021, Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker issued Executive Order 594 to minimize the environmental impacts of state government. The order requires that all state buildings using heating oil must use a biofuel blend, and that all state-owned fleets use a biofuel blend in transportation diesel fuel.