Reach 100% Clean Energy by 2050—But at What Price?
In July, New Jerseyans sweated through more than a week of temperatures that topped 90 degrees. What’s more, the regional New York office of the National Weather Service reported that temperatures at Newark Liberty Airport rose as high as 100 degrees for five consecutive days– the longest streak of 100-degree days ever recorded in Newark since detailed records began at the airport in 1931.
You can be sure that conversations about climate change heated up across the Garden State during all those sweltering days and nights.
Unfortunately, our state’s solution so far has been the Energy Master Plan (EMP). Introduced a few years ago, the EMP outlines a strategy to reach 100% clean energy by 2050. While we all support this ultimate goal, the current plan will negatively impact most families in the Garden State.
- The EMP will require whole-house conversions to electric heat that could cost New Jersey families $20,000 or more.
- It will strain our already fragile electric grid and lead to increased winter power outages.
- Existing heating sources like natural gas, propane and heating oil are already transitioning to low-carbon and no-carbon solutions.
Achieving the EMP’s objective without crippling families will require a directional shift. Without it, New Jersey homeowners are in for increased expenses, fewer choices in how they heat and cool their homes, and a potentially dangerous strain on our electric grid.
Essentially, the lofty goal of the EMP is to fully convert New Jersey’s energy generation and consumption to 100% renewable sources by 2050. The plan primarily defines renewable sources as electric energy only, generated through wind and solar sources. This would require a heavy lift to turn this dream into a reality.
Heat Pumps: The New Electric Heat
In New Jersey, many of us may have grown up with electric resistance heat. This is the baseboard strip in a room with its own thermostat. Electric resistance heat is cheap to install but expensive to operate.
The new electric heat being touted by many state and local governments is a heat pump, which is basically an air conditioner that can work in reverse, blowing warm air into a home during the cold weather months.
While heat pump technology has improved greatly over the years, there are still times when it is so cold the heat pump will not be able to keep your home comfortable, requiring the need for a backup heating system.
But if heating oil and gas heating systems are on the chopping block, the only alternative for backup heat would be electric resistance heat strips that are integrated into the central heat pump system. But this will make electric bills go even higher. In 2019, New Jersey’s electric rates were 27% higher than the national average, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration.
Heat Pump Conversions in Older Homes
One of the many problems with the EMP is that it does not fully consider the different types of heating systems in New Jersey, and therefore dramatically underestimates the cost to install a heat pump.
North Jersey has five times the number of boilers as the national average; South Jersey has 2.5 times as many. This means there are many homes in New Jersey that do not have duct work needed to distribute the warm air generated by a heat pump. (Boilers distribute heat via baseboards and radiators). Depending on the design of the home, the installation of a heat pump could cost homeowners $6,500 to $32,000 above the replacement cost of an existing boiler.
Bioheat® fuel and our Future
Those who use heating oil equipment benefit from better heating efficiency and easier maintenance. That’s because highly refined, renewable and ultra-low-sulfur Bioheat® fuel creates fewer deposits on heat exchangers.
The heating oil industry is committed to achieving net-zero carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions by 2050. This and other innovations within the industry will help to keep oilheat as one of the leaders in America’s clean energy evolution.
Read more about how today’s clean-burning Bioheat® fuel stacks up against both electric heat and natural gas.
To read more about why New Jersey’s Energy Master Plan will take us down the wrong path and cost families a lot of money, please go here.