In previous blogs, we expressed strong support for a Clean Heat Standard (CHS) as a policy to decarbonize the building sector. We have also expressed vehement opposition to the notion put forth by gas utilities of allowing renewable natural gas and hydrogen to be considered clean heat. This blog covers the question of whether biodiesel ought to be given credit as clean heat when blended with regular heating oil. Biodiesel is a renewable, biodegradable fuel manufactured from vegetable oils, animal fats, or recycled restaurant grease.
What’s Needed in Rhode Island Energy EV Filing
We have been attending Rhode Island Energy’s (RIE’s) quarterly Power Sector Transformation sessions for a few years to learn about and advise on...Read more
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Phasing out fossil fuels
If you’ve been following the economic news, you know that inflation has generally subsided and employment has been strong. But in recent weeks, we have seen a rise in oil prices. Nationally, gasoline prices have risen almost a penny per day for the last month. In New England, wholesale heating oil prices have risen almost two pennies per day. What’s going on?
In Massachusetts, both the legislative and executive branches are considering a Clean Heat Standard (CHS) to reduce emissions in the building sector. We’ve been writing a lot about the CHS lately – how it wouldhelp get climate funding for public housing, should encourage electrification, and would allow consumersmore flexibility in home electrification. As the state starts getting into specifics, one thing is clear: a good CHS would apply to gas, oil, and propane, not electricity.
On July 5, we sent thousands of our followers a “Shave the Peak” alert because of the high forecasted peak electric demand on July 6. Shave the Peak is our program designed to inform people, via text and email alerts, how and when to reduce their power usage on days when peak demand rises above 22,000 MW. The electric demand forecasted on July 6 by ISO-New Englandfor July 6 was 22,700 MW. The actual peak electric demand on July 6 was recorded as 22,389 MW at 5:50 PM. Note that without behind-the-meter solar, peak demand would have been 24,264 MW.
Late into the last night (early morning on June 16, actually) of session, the RI General Assembly passed S855 Sub A requiring the RI building code commission to adopt the 2024 International Energy Conservation Code (IECC) within 3 months of its publication, which is expected this Fall. Rhode Island is now set to become the first state to adopt the 2024 International Energy Conservation Code (IECC). This legislation was one of Green Energy Consumers’ top priorities this legislative session, especially since the state currently uses only the 2018 IECC with weakening amendments. Adopting this code will mean that new buildings in Rhode Island will be more energy efficient and have much lower emissions than ever before.
Most of us still burn fossil fuels to heat our buildings, make hot water, cook, and dry our laundry. But recently, there’s been a welcome surge of interest among consumers in ways to switch to cleaner, more efficient heat pumps, induction stoves, and electric clothes dryers. To reach net-zero greenhouse gas emissions, we have to keep it up until we zero out our use of methane, oil, and propane. Towards that end, we have been giving many presentations on how federal and state incentives can make home electrification more affordable and how a Clean Heat Standard (CHS) would set us on a steady path toward zeroing out those emissions. In this blog, we want to highlight one particular benefit of a CHS: the flexibility it gives consumers in when and how they get off fossil fuels.
In Massachusetts, Rhode Island, and most other states, the building sector is second only to transportation in terms of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. For states that have already passed laws committing to serious GHG reductions, there is no way to avoid making a timely transition to clean heat (i.e. switching from methane, heating oil, and propane to electrification).
But what’s a decarbonizer to do, exactly? Let's assess some of the options that are on the table for state governments. Spoiler alert: These are all excellent policies, but each one is insufficient. None of them are capable on their own of reducing building sector emissions 50% by 2030 or to net zero by 2050. But together they can.
Last week, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) released historic new proposed emissions standards for vehicles, both light-duty and medium- and heavy-duty. To meet the goals of the Paris Climate Agreement, the US as a whole must phase out the sale of new gas-powered cars by 2035. So far, the US is not on track to meet this challenge, but these new standards would set the country on the path to meeting this goal. These proposed regulations are the strongest emissions standards ever proposed by the EPA and the federal government’s “most aggressive climate regulation” ever.
On Monday, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC)released its most recent report, whichstatesin no uncertain terms that we need to increase the pace of greenhouse gas emissions reductions. To avoid the worst effects of climate change, the IPCC report said we must reduce carbon emissions by two thirds by 2035.With the release of the report, United NationsSecretary General António Guterres called on developed nations to achieve net-zero emissions by as close to 2040 as possible, rather than the 2050 date that has been the standard – and the date around which Massachusetts and Rhode Island climate policy has developed. What does this latest international call for urgency and speed mean for our work here in Massachusetts and Rhode Island?
In the course of our work promoting the electrification of transportation and heating, we are often asked how the grid is going to hold up with the increased demand caused by heat pumps and electric vehicles (EVs). Recently, one of our favorite state legislators said he gets that question frequently too. So, here’s our response.