New York State Considers $15M Rebate Program for Installation of Ground-Source Heat Pumps

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo (D) proposed a $15 million program on February 7 to accelerate the use of renewable heating and cooling technologies statewide.

Renewable heating and cooling technologies not only provide environmental benefits, but they can achieve energy bill savings, increase customer comfort levels, and offer health benefits, compared to conventional heating and cooling technologies, the Cuomo Administration said.

The new policy framework released by the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA) would provide rebates – $6,000 for a typical residential consumer, intended for the installation of ground-source heat pumps.

“New York has made great strides to combat climate change by supporting the use of new technologies and growing our clean energy economy,” Governor Cuomo commented in an official statement. “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.”

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.

The NYSERDA framework, the Renewable Heating and Cooling Policy Framework: Options to Advance Industry Growth and Markets in New York, sets out policy options and market-based solutions for the next few years, and identifies approaches for longer- term action.

Several barriers currently stand in the way of widespread market adoption of renewable heating and cooling technologies, the Office of the Governor noted: These include higher upfront costs than conventional technologies, cost-effectiveness challenges, inadequate access to low-cost investment capital, limited customer awareness and confidence in the technologies, and a range of supply chain barriers to 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 for this technology, 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; and
  • 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.

“The expanded use of renewable heating and cooling technologies is critical to helping New York reduce greenhouse gas emissions,” commented Richard Kauffman, chairman, Energy and Finance, for New York State. “The policy framework outlines several opportunities that we can explore for the best path forward in our efforts to expand the reach of clean energy throughout our state and curb climate-changing emissions.”

NYSERDA, which developed the framework, will work with stakeholders and launch renewable heating and cooling programs in 2017 upon approval by the Department of Public Service, as part of the Clean Energy Fund.

Once approved, NYSERDA expects to offer the rebate program in this spring. NYSERDA, DPS, and the New York Power Authority will be collaborating to advance the framework.

“This proposal will help to streamline the implementation of renewable energy technology all across New York State,” said NYYPA CEO Gil Quinines, adding, “By undertaking screenings and feasibility assessments for geothermal heat pump projects, we will accelerate their installation and expedite achieving a clean energy economy for all New Yorkers.”

Roger Downs, Conservation director, Sierra Club-Atlantic Chapter, commented, “The Sierra Club applauds Governor Cuomo’s leadership in energy efficient technologies such as geothermal. Geothermal heating and cooling represents one of New York’s best and most cost-effective strategies to achieving our net zero energy goals and deserves the same financial encouragement as other desirable energy sources like wind and solar.”

NYSERDA will accept written comments on the policy framework through close of business on March 10. It will also conduct a webinar on March 2, at 10:00 a.m. Parties interested in submitting comments on the framework or participating in the webinar, should contact NYSERDA at renewableheatingandcooling@nyserda.ny.gov

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