National Grid Submits Testimony for the NYC Council Committee on Environmental Protection Committee Oversight Hearing on Building Electrification
Good afternoon Chair Gennaro and members of the committee. My name is Bryan Grimaldi and I am the Vice President of Corporate Affairs at National Grid. I am also a New York City resident and a National Grid customer. My employer is an international energy delivery company, but our roots here in New York go back 100 years. We have nearly 2 million customers and over 4,000 employees who live and work in the New York metro area.
National Grid shares New York City’s and New York State’s goals for economy-wide decarbonization, so we are transforming our energy networks to deliver smarter, cleaner, and more resilient energy solutions. The central goal of our clean energy vision is achieving a Net Zero carbon-free future that will meet New York City’s growing energy demands, ensure that none of our 2 million customers are left behind, and continuing to provide safe, reliable and affordable service while taking the necessary steps to protect our climate and environment.
In fact, National Grid just released the first annual update on our Net Zero plan, showing our progress on our goals so far across our U.S. operations. Since 1990, we’ve reduced our direct (Scope 1 and 2) emissions by over 70%, and we are increasing our efforts in five distinct areas.
First, to ensure we are on track to addressing global climate change, we partnered with the Science Based Target initiative (SBTi) to determine what targets we would need to meet to do our part in keeping the Earth’s temperature below the two-degree Celsius threshold, which the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC -- United Nations body for assessing the science related to climate change) reports is necessary to avert the most catastrophic effects of climate change. These new verified interim targets are in addition to our end goal of Net Zero by 2050 for direct and indirect emissions. This ambition includes scopes 1, 2, and 3, making us the first investor-owned distribution utility in the country to have SBTi verified targets for all three scopes.
Second, we are making strides to facilitate equitable access to clean transportation choices and building a reliable network that benefits all customers and enables the market, including:
- Installing more than 1,700 charging ports in New York and nearly 1,500 are in progress across the state. Our goal is to install 16,000 ports across Upstate New York to support the State’s goal of 50,000 by 2025.
- Transitioning to a 100 percent electric fleet by 2030 for our light-duty vehicles while also pursuing the replacement of our medium- and heavy-duty vehicles with zero carbon alternatives.
Third, National Grid is focused on connecting clean, renewable energy to the grid, partnering with our states to reach clean energy targets by enabling the deployment of cost-effective zero-carbon generation resources, ranging from large-scale offshore wind projects to smaller distributed solar generation. We’re doing that by investing in transmission infrastructure and other technology, while making long-term commitments to purchase clean power from renewable generators.
- As of December 2020, we have interconnected more than 105,000 distributed generation projects across our footprint. We have interconnected the 2nd largest amount of large-scale, non-residential solar of any utility in the U.S.
- National Grid is planning to develop and construct nearly $5 billion in necessary transmission and distribution upgrades to help meet the renewable energy targets in our states and create 6,200 MW of clean energy capacity in the region.
Fourth, our low-carbon fuels strategy includes renewable natural gas (RNG) and green hydrogen. RNG is a carbon-neutral gas produced by upgrading methane from already existing methane emission sources like landfills and wastewater treatment plants. We are only considering RNG from sustainable sources. We are researching how zero-carbon, renewable green hydrogen can supplement our gas network as a zero-carbon fuel.
- We launched a hydrogen blending study with NYSERDA and Stony Brook University to understand the details of delivering hydrogen through our distribution networks.
- We are facilitating over a dozen customer requests to produce and interconnect about 10 million dekatherms/year of RNG and we intend to have 5 percent of our gas supply come from RNG by 2030.
National Grid is also ramping up installations of heat pumps in residential locations, thus far in upstate New York, approximately 840 were installed in 2020 and over 1,500 in 2021. We are offering incentives to our customers in New York for installing heat pumps to reduce reliance on oil, propane, inefficient electric baseboard, or natural gas heating equipment.
- We are striving to have nearly 6,500 heat pumps installed in commercial and industrial facilities and some 13,000 heat pumps installed in residential buildings in upstate New York.
- This effort in upstate New York strives to achieve over 10 Million mmBtu equivalent savings over the lifetime of installed equipment.
- It’s estimated that the work through the Clean Heat Program will deliver over 1 Million Lifetime CO2 Savings.
- In downstate New York, National Grid is also ramping up collaboration with electric distribution companies to encourage heat pump installations in Brooklyn, Queens, Staten Island and on Long Island.
- This effort in downstate New York strives to on average refer over 500 customers a year to our neighboring electric company’s electrification programs to install heat pumps.
- If half of those customers proceed to installing heat pumps by 2025, it’s estimated to provide over 1 Million mmBtu equivalent savings over the lifetime of installed equipment.
Fifth, National Grid is also taking responsibility for emissions related to the natural gas we distribute and sell to our customers. We are committed to reducing methane leaks from our entire gas supply chain including our own gas networks.
- The leak resistant gas main replacement work helps reduce emissions from our distribution mains and the company has been replacing 220 miles of pipe per year across the state.
- As a member of the EPA’s Methane Challenge, we continue to offer public transparency on our mains’ leaks and replacement efforts.
We have a responsibility to keep our 2 million customers safe, so we must ensure that a decarbonized economy is one that is affordable and one that leaves no customer or community behind. Electric and gas energy efficiency and demand response are foundational elements of the pathway to Net Zero. By 2030, we will need to double the rate of energy efficiency retrofits across our region and reduce peak energy consumption, which can reduce the need for new infrastructure. So, our success depends on a shared sense of responsibilities and on transparency. As we continue to decarbonize, National Grid will remain honest and transparent about our progress, acknowledging when challenges or new opportunities arise.
Reaching Net Zero is an obligation we are proud to share with New York, so thank you for the opportunity to testify on INTRO 2317 today. We applaud the intent of this bill to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. However, the proposed legislation takes viable options to decarbonize off the table at a time when we need more paths to Net Zero, and not fewer.
The most affordable, reliable, and practical way for New York City to achieve its Net Zero goal is through a holistic approach that decarbonizes building heating through 1) increased energy efficiency; 2) heat electrification that includes dual fuel heating (i.e., relying on electric heat pumps and adding low-carbon gas when it is severely cold), and 3) leveraging existing gas infrastructure to deliver new low-carbon fuels like renewable natural gas and hydrogen. These findings are supported by studies such as the Pathways to a Carbon-Neutral NYC study, a joint project from the NYC Mayor’s Office, Con Ed, and National Grid.
As we adopt innovations to deliver carbon-free energy solutions, we know that issues of affordability and reliability are top of mind for our customers and your constituents. That is why we want to preserve multiple ways to fulfill our duty to provide affordable, reliable energy and ensuring our existing system is resilient to extreme events.
We have real concerns that, as envisioned, these bills may result in increased energy costs for customers, which will have a disproportionate impact on low- and fixed-income families.
One system. Two networks. Net Zero emissions.
If we enable the opportunity to achieve Net Zero goals through hybrid heating, as well as modernizing existing National Grid infrastructure networks, we can combine electrification – air source and ground source heat pumps - with decarbonized fuels utilization and expansion of energy efficiency for electric and gas customers. We believe that through innovation and efficiencies, the energy we deliver today can be decarbonized, which is why existing energy delivery infrastructure should play an integral role in our Net Zero future, including complementing heat electrification via hybrid heating.
We are not resting on our current delivery systems. National Grid is also making significant investments in solar, wind, and battery energy storage projects through our National Grid Ventures division across the U.S. We can use these fuels in our existing infrastructure, which will help keep cost pressures down.
The technology to scale these low-carbon and renewable energy sources are all viable and on the verge of wide-ranging breakthroughs. It’s an exciting time and limiting the technical options at this early stage could result in stunting economic growth, interrupt the transition of the skilled workforce to green jobs, and the ability to explore the most cost-effective solutions. Worse, it could prove to be cost-prohibitive.
Elected officials and policy makers have taken a long view in decreasing the reliance on the internal combustion engine (i.e. most agreeing to targets in 2035) which will allow for expanding EV adoption over time. Solutions for heating require the same long view, which is not afforded by the proposed legislation.
It’s important to highlight that these solutions are not in competition with one another, but rather complementary. In depth technical analysis is indicating that all these solutions will be needed to achieve Net Zero. The solutions to a carbon-neutral future must include all options, as every tool in the toolkit is needed to meet the goal, including extensive dual fuel heating, which INT. 2317 appears to specifically prohibit.
As previously mentioned, a report published in collaboration with Con Edison and the Mayor’s office of Sustainability, the Pathways to a Carbon-Neutral NYC examined in detail smart and cooperative approaches to Net Zero. The Pathways study showed that 40 to 70 percent of the buildings in New York City would likely not be electrified in 2050, underscoring the fact that we will need all options and technologies to get to Net Zero. Moreover, the Pathways study found that hybrid heating systems could substantially reduce the costly impacts on electricity networks from higher winter heating electricity demand.
We need to continue to invest in heat pumps, renewable gas, hydrogen blending and geothermal networks, and integrate them with off-shore wind, solar, hydropower, battery storage – all integral parts of the equation that will help drive down our emissions. We should use every tool available to us.
The potential is real, the technology is evolving, and we look forward to policy and regulation that will help us achieve our shared goal of Net Zero while also ensuring the vital reliability and affordability that our customers expect and want.
It is our sincere desire to work with the prime sponsor and the council on finding a solution that achieves our shared goals. We would welcome any opportunity to discuss in more detail and answer any questions that you might have. Thank you very much for the opportunity to offer this testimony.
About National Grid
About National Grid: National Grid (NYSE: NGG) is an electricity, natural gas, and clean energy delivery company serving more than 20 million people through our networks in New York, Massachusetts, and Rhode Island. National Grid is transforming our electricity and natural gas networks with smarter, cleaner, and more resilient energy solutions to meet the goal of reducing greenhouse gas emissions.
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