New York’s Climate Week Telegraphs the Next Stage in State-Led Climate Policy

Written on: October 5, 2023

Author: Joe Uglietto
The U.S. Climate Alliance – a group of 25 governors from across the country committed to achieving a net-zero carbon future – met recently during Climate Week NYC. The Alliance pledged to install at least 20 million heat pumps by 2023 with a goal of ensuring that at least 40% of any benefits of these actions would flow to disadvantaged communities. The pledge would effectively quadruple the number of electric heat pumps in use across the Alliance states. Viewed through a narrow lens, it would be easy to conclude that the Alliance’s new pledge is a continuation of the same goal – wholesale electrification – without addressing any of the inherent challenges; electric grid overload, winter peak demand issues, price and cost concerns.

But there was an additional commitment made that would be potentially transformative for our industry and one that stakeholders will need to be made aware of. Governors from Connecticut, Maryland, New York, Pennsylvania and Rhode Island committed to exploring the development of Clean Heat Standards as a means to affect the transition to a net-zero carbon future. Add to that New Jersey which is developing a CHS to comply with an Executive Order from their governor, Vermont which enacted a CHS into law and is in the rulemaking process, and Massachusetts which is currently in the rulemaking process of their own CHS through their Department of Environmental Protection. Taken together, we have eight New England and Mid-Atlantic states that have publicly announced they are considering the creation of a Clean Heat Standard as a regulatory policy to reduce GHG’s from the building sector. That’s almost the entire heating oil industry, not just “super progressive” Vermont or Massachusetts.

What will this mean for our industry? For starters, this will put even more pressure on the states that are currently developing Clean Heat Standards. The early adopters – VT and MA – will likely serve as the guinea pigs and other states will follow their lead when developing their own CHS. As our industry works to support the development of Clean Heat Standards that allow renewable Bioheat® fuel, renewable propane and even renewable natural gas, it will become that much more critical to be treated fairly within these programs.

What needs to be done now? Dealers and stakeholders in our industry must engage in the process. Submit comments during open comment periods. Attend hearings and give voice to your concerns. Donate to the efforts underway in your state to influence the process. Communicate with your customers at the appropriate time to get involved and ensure support for fuel-neutral rules and incentives for all renewable thermal technologies and not just heat pumps.

It might feel like our industry has been dealing with these challenges for years, but I’m here to tell you this is just the beginning. And it’s going to take a mountain of effort from everyone who has a stake in our industry to ensure a positive outcome.

nd industry stakeholders abreast of the various programs and their rule-making processes in the weeks and months ahead. If you’d like to join our email list to receive our updates, email me at joe@diversifiedenergyspecialists.com.

Renewable Energy Insights is a regular column by Joe Uglietto, president of Diversified Energy Specialists, a leader in the renewable energy markets and consultant to the industry with a focus around emissions reductions and renewable energy innovation.