Weekly Feature

2017-02-15 / Business

State funding to advance renewable heating, cooling technologies to benefit economy

Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo last week announced a $15 million proposal to accelerate the use of renewable heating and cooling technologies in New York to stimulate the clean energy economy.

According to a press release, the new policy framework released by the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority includes a proposed two-year, $15-million program to provide rebates for the installation of ground-source heat pumps.

The release said the plan will support the state’s goal to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in New York 40 percent by 2030 from 1990 levels.

“New York has made great strides to combat climate change by supporting the use of new technologies and growing our clean energy economy,” Cuomo said in the press release. “We will continue to make green investments that will encourage the use of clean, affordable energy to reduce our carbon footprint and support sustainable communities throughout the state.”

According to the Governor’s Office, currently, fossil-fuel-based thermal energy — primarily natural gas, propane and oil — is the main energy source for space heating, space cooling and domestic hot water in the residential and commercial sectors. It is responsible for approximately 32 percent of New York’s energy-related greenhouse gas emissions. Reducing emissions is integral to the governor’s Reforming the Energy Vision strategy for a cleaner, more resilient and affordable energy system for all New Yorkers.

The press release said renewable heating and cooling technologies not only provide environmental benefits, they also can provide energy bill savings, increased comfort levels and health benefits, compared to conventional heating and cooling technologies.

The NYSERDA framework sets out policy options and market-based solutions for the next few years and identifies approaches for longer term action. Interested parties are invited to comment on the framework.

The proposed $15 million rebate program would provide about $6,000 for a typical residential consumer for the installation of a ground-source heat pump. This technology has tremendous potential to provide New Yorkers with a heating and cooling system that is energy efficient and reliable. However, it is not yet cost-competitive with conventional technologies, so providing rebates will help stimulate market growth.

In addition to the rebate, the framework identifies a range of options for the next few years to lower costs, reduce barriers and grow the market, including:

• Community-based outreach, education and bulk procurements.

• Integrating renewable heating and cooling in new housing developments and campuses, which can be more economically efficient and lower cost due to the scale of the projects.

• Developing a unified and streamlined permitting process.

• Reducing project development risks by providing support for feasibility and engineering studies.

• Introducing renewable heating and cooling technology into existing trade and distribution channels.

• Advancing new business models and financing innovations that can mitigate high upfront costs by spreading them over time.

The framework also explores methods to implement renewable heating and cooling mandates for public buildings, new construction and renovation.

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