Concentration of CO2 in the Atmosphere

HeatSmart Campaigns in New York and Massachusetts

Georgena Terry, CESA Research Associate

Note: This is the third in a series on community-based strategies for increasing the adoption of residential renewable heating and cooling technologies. For more information on community-based strategies and renewable heating and cooling technologies, please see the September 2019 and November 2019 issues of G.E.T. and read the Clean Energy States Alliance’s full report and case studies.

HeatSmart campaigns promote the use of renewable heating and cooling technologies in their communities. In some areas, state energy offices support these campaigns through funding and other resources. This article discusses two of those states.

HeatSmart Tompkins Program Director Jonathon Comstock discusses how a heat pump works in Tompkins, NY. Photo: Karim Beers.

New York State and Massachusetts each have passed legislation addressing the reduction of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. Massachusetts’ Global Warming Solutions Act mandates an 80% reduction in GHG from 1990 GHG levels by 2050. Similarly, New York State’s Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act requires an 85% reduction in GHG from 1990 GHG levels by 2050.

To help reach these targets, both states have enacted community-focused programs that address emissions reductions from the heating sector. New York’s Clean Heating and Cooling Community Campaign (CHCC) and Massachusetts’ HeatSmart Mass program seek to increase the use of clean heating and cooling technologies in multiple communities. Eligible technologies include air source heat pumps, ground-source heat pumps, solar heating (and cooling in New York), and low-emission biomass heating. Both programs are based on the proven Solarize model, which pioneered community campaigns and group purchasing for solar photovoltaics. Funding for the programs comes from charges on customer electric bills.

Communities who wish to participate in these initiatives are solicited through a request for proposals (RFP) that describes the program, outlines the community eligibility requirements, and details the roles and responsibilities of the state and the community.

The New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA) launched its first round of the CHCC in November 2017, seeking proposals from organizations to administer the community campaigns. The first round resulted in eight campaigns: Sustainable Homes Rochester, HeatSmart Central New York, HeatSmart Orange, HeatSmart Otsego, HeatSmart

Southern Tier, HeatSmart Tompkins, HeatSmart Ulster-Sullivan, and HeatSmart Westchester. After the second round, five more organizations across the state were awarded funding for campaigns. These are HeatSmart Utica, HeatSmart Capital Region, Putnam, Brooklyn, and Green the Bronx.

Courtesy image: NY HeatSmart

NYSERDA provides the selected communities with financial support for multi-year campaigns to select qualified installers and negotiate a reduced price for homeowners. This includes recruiting teams to provide technical assistance for community campaigns. The teams help with the installer selection process through the development of an RFP template and also assist in marketing and outreach efforts. Because the lessons learned are key to the program’s sustainability and future success, teams conduct debriefings, an analysis of the successes and failures of a campaign, and remit quarterly enrollment data and metrics to NYSERDA.

NYSERDA uses an artificial intelligence tool that gathers data from public records to target potential high-value customers who would benefit from clean heating and cooling. NYSERDA provides the CHCC program’s participating installers with access to this data for up to two years.

The Massachusetts Clean Energy Center (MassCEC) provides a marketing budget between $5,000 and $13,000 to each municipality participating in HeatSmart Mass. The budgeted amount depends on how many clean heating and cooling technologies are promoted, the median household income of the municipality, and the size of the municipality. MassCEC issues an RFP for installers and provides a technical consultant to support participating communities.

Currently, there are HeatSmart Mass programs in Great Barrington, Bolton/Harvard, Hudson/Stow, Carlisle/Concord/Lincoln, Arlington/Winchester, Belmont, Marshfield, and Nantucket.

HeatSmart Mass also promotes no-cost home energy assessments by MassSAVE, an organization providing programs and services funded by electric and natural gas utilities. Through its Three-Year Energy Efficiency Plan, it provides financial awards of $5,000 to $25,000 to communities who achieve energy-saving goals. MassCEC works with HeatSmart Mass communities to find the best ways for the two programs to work together to benefit participating communities.

Recognizing that there may be clean energy opportunities not contemplated in its RFP, MassCEC considers unique programs, such as partnerships with local financial institutions that offer loans to those purchasing clean energy technologies. NYSERDA acknowledges and offers additional awards to communities with strategies for developing the local clean heating and cooling workforce. It also encourages communities to propose strategies for increasing the participation of low-to-moderate income households.

As of the summer 2019, the original eight NYSERDA campaigns created 1061 leads, which resulted in 118 contracts. In Massachusetts, 1185 unique leads from HeatSmart Mass resulted in 173 contracts. Both organizations are continuing to refine their programs based on lessons learned to achieve lower GHG emissions.

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