Heating Industry to New England Governors: Do Not Repeat Texas’s Tragedy
After grid warning, dealer associations call for moratorium on electric heat pumps
On December 16, 2021, NEFI and its state association partners delivered a letter to the governors of the six New England states, demanding a moratorium on utility-funded conversions to electric and natural gas heating systems.
The letter cited recent warnings by electric grid operator ISO New England that the region is at “heightened risk” of power outages this winter as a result of constrained natural gas supplies and increasing use of electric heat pumps. Pointing to the catastrophe that occurred last year in Texas, fuel dealers argued that wintertime power outages would disproportionately harm their states’ most vulnerable groups such as low- or no-income households, and that heating system conversions only make the problem worse.
In calling for a moratorium on electric and natural gas conversions, fuel dealers raised the following issues with their governors:
- As in Texas, most of New England’s electricity comes from natural gas, not renewables.
- Fuel dealers do not oppose their states’ net-zero emission goals and have committed to reduce emissions 15% by 2023, 40% by 2030, and to achieve net-zero by 2050 using blends of renewable liquid heating fuels.
- Texas’s 4.5 million power outages led to over 700 deaths.
- Liquid heating fuel offers a quicker, more reliable path to net-zero emissions than electric heat pumps or natural gas, while also helping the grid keep the lights on for 15 million New Englanders during extended periods of extreme cold.
- In Texas, 96% of homes are heated by electricity or natural gas.
“We can all agree that Texas’s recent tragedy is not the future that New Englanders want to see, yet that is exactly where our region is headed, as all six of our states have utility-funded programs in place promoting the installation of heating systems that threaten to further constrain our critical energy infrastructure,” said the letter, which was signed by NEFI as well as the Connecticut Energy Marketers Association, Energy Marketers Association of New Hampshire, Energy Marketers Association of Rhode Island, Maine Energy Marketers Association, Massachusetts Energy Marketers Association and Vermont Fuel Dealers Association.
In addition to the letter, NEFI issued a press release and hosted an online press conference, which was attended by reporters from a number of regional newspapers and TV stations. The letter and media blitz resulted in coverage across both northern and southern New England. Readers can access a recording of the press conference, along with links to several related news articles, at nefi.com/moratorium.
“While coverage varied by outlet, this campaign succeeded in bringing attention to some of the lesser known dangers of heating electrification and natural gas conversions,” said NEFI President and CEO Sean Cota. “This will be especially important in the event that power outages occur in the New England states this winter. Whether that happens as the result of prolonged cold or over-reliance on natural gas, we want the state governors, the regional grid operator and the general public to know that we are here to help. I’d like to thank everyone who assisted us in these efforts.”
The press conference featured Sean Cota of NEFI, Chris Herb of the Connecticut Energy Marketers Association, Michael Ferrante of the Massachusetts Energy Marketers Association, Matt Cota of the Vermont Fuel Dealers Association, Diane Quesnelle of the Energy Marketers Association of Rhode Island, and Charlie Summers of the Maine Energy Marketers Association. Warm Thoughts provided support via the Renewable Energy Future Facebook page. PriMedia helped develop the letter and press release and coordinate outreach to the governors’ offices.