As a liquid heating fuels professional, you need to be prepared in the fight against the “electrify everything” movement. You need to know what electrification really means to your business, to the community and to the environment. And you need to share this knowledge with your elected representatives, your staff, and the public.
At present, virtually every state in the Northeast, and most across the country, has a “carbon reduction plan” or a “clean energy plan,” and most of them favor so-called “strategic” or “beneficial” electrification. The plans that include hard numbers are staggering. Maine’s Climate Action Plan aims for 100,000 new heat pump installations by 20251; New York’s Climate Action Scoping Plan calls for electrifying 1 million to 2 million homes by 20302; Massachusetts’ plan aims for 95% electric heat by 2035, with 500,000 homes using heat pumps by 20303; New Jersey aims to convert 90% of its buildings.4
Some of these plans acknowledge that there is a place for biofuels in a lower-carbon future, but usually in the form of transportation fuels, especially for air and marine use. Despite legislation regarding the use of Bioheat® fuel for space heating in a handful of states, the broader “carbon reduction plans” promote replacing all “fossil fuel burning” home heating systems (natural gas, propane, Bioheat® fuel and heating oil, and carbon) with heat pumps.
Here are the facts these electrification programs ignore:
- Bioheat® fuel immediately reduces carbon emissions and B100 is already being used.
- B100 reduces emissions by 90%, and NORA has the research and “live” home studies to prove that B100 and solar can provide net-zero carbon heating.5
- Heat pumps lose efficacy as the temperature approaches freezing.
- Converting a larger home to cold climate heat pumps and a compatible water heater could cost up to $42,000.6
- More than 90% of homes with electric heat pumps also retain their boiler or furnace, and continue using it as their primary heat source.7
- ISO-New England and ISO New York, along with many other operators, have reported that as electrification of the heating and transportation sectors accelerates, the demand on the grid will need to increase 300%, and would require “significant dispatchable resources, such as natural gas or stored fuels,” for periods when renewable resources aren’t available. In other words, fossil fuels will be required to produce the power needed for the “green” solutions.8
- Upgrading the grid to meet the increased demand is going to cost as much as $7 trillion, or $30,000-$50,000 per home.9
- Power plants in the Northeast currently produce more than 24 million tons of carbon emissions a year.10
What “beneficial electrification” is, is a way for the utilities to make more money while independent businesses and the consumer suffer. It is not “beneficial” for the community and not for the environment. On the other hand, it is strategic. It is a very strategic way to increase utility stock values.
“Maine Won’t Wait” Executive Summary, December 2020
New York Climate Action Council Scoping Plan, December 2022
Massachusetts Commission on Clean Heat, November 30, 2022
New Jersey’s Global Warming Response Act, October 15, 2020
The Economics & Environmental Performance of Biodiesel vs. Electric Heat Pumps, R. Sweetser, R. Albrecht. 2019
OilPrice.com, February 25, 2021
EPA, Power Plant Emissions Trends, Annual Carbon Emissions