The Future of Energy on Long Island: Electrification and Energy Efficiency

The Future of Energy on Long Island: Electrification and Energy Efficiency

This article originally appeared in the Long Island Business News, click here to read!

Contributors: Philip J. Schade, P.E.; Michael Rubino; Anthony W. Kim, P.E.; Steven Soussou, P.E.

The climate crisis is exacerbating extreme weather phenomena, including heat waves, droughts, and hurricanes. To both adapt to the changes already underway and to mitigate future damage, Long Island is changing its relationship with energy. Electrification and energy efficiency are key components of this energy transition.

Electrification is the process of converting technologies and systems—including buildings, appliances, and vehicles—from fossil fuel to electric power. Transitioning from fossil fuels, such as natural gas and oil, can reduce carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and shrink a facility’s overall carbon footprint.

To facilitate this conversion, the way that energy is billed has already changed. As more and more systems and buildings draw upon electricity instead of fossil fuels, Long Island is consuming more energy than ever before. To minimize stress on the grid, energy providers are offering lower prices for electricity at different times of the day. When demand peaks, typically between 3:00 pm and 7:00 pm, the cost of electricity increases. Homeowners and businesses can potentially reschedule their energy-intensive operations to off-peak hours and take advantage of cheaper prices.

Electrifying systems and upgrading existing appliances can also improve efficiency across the board. New appliances typically use power more efficiently than older equipment and require less energy to do the same tasks.

As the move toward electrification continues, the grid’s infrastructure capacity will need upgrades in order to carry more power than ever before. Upgrading the transmission infrastructure will also facilitate the bidrectional movement of power, meaning that energy can travel back and forth between different regions of New York State. This will more efficiently take advantage of intermittent power sources, such as wind, that can temporarily generate more energy than the immediate community can use.

Developing a system that relies more heavily on electricity introduces potential vulnerabilities. If anything happens to the traditional power generation or transmission systems, fully electric customers may lose power. Having a variety of decentralized energy sources, such as solar, wind, and battery energy storage, can mitigate this concern, but the transmission and distribution lines that carry electricity are still vulnerable to storm damage, snow, and high winds. In response, the utility grid is already improving its resiliency through storm hardening measures that address the rise in extreme weather and mitigate the potential for increased power outages.

Electric vehicle fleet owners have the opportunity to support this transition by enabling another flexible resiliency option. Through the use of vehicle-to-grid chargers, electric vehicles have the potential to become dispatchable sources of energy storage. In the event of a natural disaster, a large electric vehicle or connected fleet could potentially plug into a critical building, such as a storm shelter, or feed into the grid, becoming a temporary source of power.

New York State, Federal, and local utility programs and initiatives are promoting electrification as a means to address climate change mitigation and GHG carbon reduction goals. Federally, the Bipartisan Infrastructure Deal and the Inflation Reduction Act have identified a set of goals for GHG reduction and established guidelines for how they can be achieved. At the state level, the Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act requires a 40% reduction of GHGs by 2030, a deadline that will arrive faster than many may think.

Funding is available to help cover the costs of electrification. Professional architectural and engineering consulting firms, such as H2M architects + engineers, can support funding acquisition, develop programs, and design facility and system upgrades to support the transition. H2M’s mechanical, electrical, and plumbing market leaders can help develop strategies and funding options. H2M also has extensive experience in supporting electrification and infrastructure improvements with public, private, and utility clients.

To learn more about how H2M can help you, reach out to Energy Market Director Philip J. Schade, P.E. at