Power of Earth – Ep 4 – Clean Heat: Accelerating the Decarbonization of Buildings in New York State – with Scott Smith, NYSERDA

Episode 46

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Hosted by
Ron Kamen

Ron Kamen has decades of expertise & leadership in catalyzing exponential change in sustainable energy adoption with governments, non-profits, and businesses.

Quantum Quote: “The People who are crazy enough to think that they can change the world  – are the ones who do.”  – Steve Jobs

In the quest for the clean energy transition to a low-carbon economy, what do we consider a triple win? How about… customers save money, more jobs are created, AND we reduce carbon emissions?

Scott Smith is the Clean Heating & Cooling Program Manager for the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA). He manages the Clean Heating and Cooling Community Campaigns, helps electrify New York’s Low- & Moderate-Income Housing stock, and is currently promoting clean energy solutions to communities throughout New York State.

Scott considers himself a thermodynamics geek and a heat pump advocate. He decided to focus the remainder of his career on building electrification, a hard choice but super important work. 

In this episode, Scott talks about the mission at NYSERDA and New York State Clean Heat  to accelerate the decarbonization of heating of buildings in New York to help achieve the state’s energy savings, greenhouse gas emissions reduction targets, and increase the pool of skilled labor for clean energy opportunities through heat pumps.

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Why is New York State moving to clean energy? Why are you personally involved with this program?

Clean Energy is a win-win-win.  Customers save money, we create jobs and reduce our carbon emissions. 

Governor Andrew Cuomo’s nation-leading climate and clean energy agenda outlined within the Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act (CLCPA) requires a 40 percent reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by 2030 and an 85 percent reduction by 2050 as well as a transition to a carbon-neutral economy across all sectors. 

In order to accomplish this, we must drive electrification into our new and existing building stock, which is one of the leading sources of greenhouse gas emission in New York State. We have to switch buildings’ heating and cooling to energy-efficient electric heat pumps to replace fossil fuel heating and reduce the number of harmful carbon emissions, especially as we reduce the carbon output from the electric grid and/or when we combine heat pumps with on-site renewables.

What types of clean energy actions is New York State involved with?

We’re ramping the installation of large scale renewables to achieve a zero-emissions electricity sector by 2040 as mandated by the CLCPA. We’re investing in the infrastructure needed for the vast majority of vehicles in New York to be all-electric, and increasing our investment in building electrification.

What are the goals of the New York State Clean Heat Program?

Beginning April 1, 2020, the NYS electric utilities launched the NYS Clean Heat Statewide Heat Pump Program to administer over $450 Million in available incentives. Visit your local utility’s website for more details on heat pump incentives. 

NYSERDA is also investing $230 Million in Heat Pump Market Development including consumer awareness, workforce and supply chain development, and technology innovation and development.

New York State Clean Heat helps achieve the state’s energy savings and greenhouse gas emissions reduction targets using the installation of heat pumps.  Increase the pool of skilled labor needed to grow a quality-oriented industry, training 14,000 workers across the heat pump supply chain by 2025 and reduce the cost of heat pump installations to increase affordability to drive adoption. 

Between the $450 Million+ the utilities are investing in projects and the $230 Million that NYSERDA is investing in market development, our collective goals are to:

  • Achieve 3.6 TBtu of energy savings through the installation of heat pumps in approximately 130,000 buildings
  • Create 14,000 jobs across the heat pump supply chain
  • Reduce the installed costs of heat pumps by 25%
  • Increase shipments of heat pumps to NY by 50% with 90% of those shipped being cold climate

How do New York State residents access the programs? Where can people find information?

NYS Clean Heat Incentives are provided to qualifying contractors.  Each of the utilities has program information on its website.  There’s also a page on our website nyserda.ny.gov. Choose “Find a Program” and look for “NYS Clean Heat”.  That page has a statewide list of eligible contractors and links to the utility program pages.

One BIG and UNIQUE Value SUPER NOVA

Heat pumps are super-efficient and the future of heating because they don’t create heat.  They concentrate heat and move it around, thereby eliminating losses due to combustion, and are 2 to 4 times more efficient than the most efficient fossil fuel system.

Heat pumps not only provide environmental benefits, they can provide energy bill savings, increase comfort levels, and provide health benefits compared to conventional heating and cooling technologies. All are priorities for us as we look to give consumers smarter, cleaner energy choices.

What is the one thing you are most ENERGIZED about today?

I’m pretty energized by the heat pump I got for Christmas.  My family room, which had baseboard electric heat, was never comfortable in the winter.  Now it’s comfortable AND I’ve already saved $100!

A parting piece of guidance: ”It’s important to insulate and air seal your house when you get your heat pump system!”

Important Links:

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Episode 46