Glimpse of the Green Home Future

How the Empire State is ensuring a smooth transition to sustainable energy for homeowners

By KATHY HANUNN

There is a glimpse of the green home future happening in New York right now under the leadership of Governor Andrew Cuomo – a future that is closer to reality than ever before.

New York has quietly become the most innovative state on the East Coast when it comes to the greening of the state’s energy system and providing homeowners the opportunity to go 100 percent green. Under the New York Reforming the Energy Vision (REV) plan, the state has aggressively pursued a full-court press on transforming energy away from fossil fuels and toward a renewable energy future. That vision goes far beyond the ambitious solar and wind policies that get much of the attention, and include clean home geothermal.

Earlier this year, the New York Public Service Commission approved the implementation of the third phase of its Clean Energy Standard, which reduces greenhouse gas emissions 40 percent by 2030 and 80 percent by 2050. It also approved one of the most aggressive energy storage plans in the country. The goal is to implement 3 GW by 2030 and 1.5 GW by 2025.

In addition to these ambitious bills passing, natural gas has begun to experience problems. A contentious natural gas pipeline is running into serious problems. The proposed gas pipeline that would run to Long Island and New York City has been denied key permits by both New York and New Jersey regulators. National Grid has already stopped processing new applications for firm (uninterrupted year-round service) natural gas hookups on Long Island, Brooklyn and Queens, pending a final review
by New York. Utilities are finding that building natural gas infrastructure is neither cheap nor politically easy.

That is one important reason that New York is among the national leaders in supporting renewable green technologies.

The state has adopted some of the most aggressive geothermal incentives in the country. Ground source heat pump (GSHP) or geothermal systems transfer thermal energy between the ground and a building to heat and cool without any harmful emissions or additional fuel. Through the Ground Source Heat Pump Rebate initiative, New York State Energy Research and Development Authority has made $26.5 million available for the installation of this cutting-edge, renewable energy technology.

When homeowners add in the 30 percent federal tax credit, you see why geothermal heat pumps are some of the fastest growing renewable energy sources in the state. Finally, utilities are also supporting geothermal installation with ConEd offering Westchester County homeowners up to $5000 towards the purchase of a clean geothermal system.

Together the incentives make geothermal more affordable than ever, but that’s not the end. Solar is the perfect complement to geothermal, and thanks to the equally generous incentives for solar energy, homeowners can generate significant savings for going solar as well.

In mid-January, Governor Cuomo announced his 2019 agenda which calls for doubling distributed solar by 2025 as part of the path to 100 percent carbon-free electricity by 2040. These goals make New York a more aggressive solar state than any other in the country. Yes, that includes California and Hawaii, whose 100 percent clean energy mandates aren’t designed to come to fruition five years after New York’s goals are scheduled to be completed.

As a result of this aggressive push, more New York homeowners than ever are using rooftop solar panels to generate their own electricity. But many do not know that the bulk of the energy their homes use—nearly 47 percent— come from heating and cooling the home.

When installed in tandem, a geothermal heat pump works well with the solar array because the heat pump regulates the temperature of the home using the electricity generated by the solar panels. It is a completely green system that takes care of most of the energy use of a home without giving off any dangerous greenhouse gas emissions. Rather than competing systems, geothermal and solar complement each other and reduce your home’s carbon emissions.

Pairing solar and geothermal together gives homeowners the ability to maximize the benefits of both technologies while providing them with the additional benefit of increasing energy independence. And furthermore, it helps free them from rising monthly utility bills. When residents find a company that has the ability to finance these renovations in- house, it allows them the ability to amortize the investment over time and see savings from day one.

We are excited about the opportunities that New York offers homeowners in the geothermal market. When you combine it with the solar opportunities the state has to offer, the sky’s the limit for the greening of the homes in the Empire State.

Kathy Hanunn is the co-founder and CEO at Dandelion, a fast-growing clean geothermal company and spinout of Alphabet’s X. To learn more, please visit dandelionenergy.com.