Climate Corner: Electrify the MOV, it just makes cents
Oct 7, 2023
Electrification can be more economical and provides health and environmental benefits too. Why am I focusing on electrification? Last week was National Drive Electric Week (Sept. 22-Oct. 1) and we are entering the season where holiday decorations are powered by electricity for scary and fun displays, and lights hang from trees and bushes.
Infrastructure is not a sexy topic, it’s something most people don’t even think about until it breaks. What we choose to invest in as our infrastructure matters not just for immediate needs, but is about long term returns instead of increasing costs. Externalities are costs not always factored into the price you pay. We often end up paying more for healthcare, natural disasters, and environmental impacts. These costs can be harder to see.
Tracking the power grid emissions. PJM (https://pjm.com/) is the regional transmission organization which helps plan our region’s power balancing and includes a map on their homepage which shows the current price of electricity as well as power generation sources. Electricity Maps (https://app.electricitymaps.com/map) is a source of real time and historical power of cost, source, and carbon emission.
Have you considered how much you pay a year just to have gas service? I’m paying approximately $480 a year to maintain the connection even if I don’t use any natural gas. I plan to replace my furnace when it ages out with a cold climate heat pump. I’ll no longer need gas service and can factor in a $480 savings a year toward the cost of the install and operation of the new system. The Department of Energy is running a whole program on heat pumps for cold climates optimized down to -15 degrees F operation so these are not the heat pumps people say can’t handle the winter.
More on the fact sheet: https://tinyurl.com/364eupsx.
When we bought our house our gas hot water heater needed to be replaced so we installed a hybrid heat pump water heater as it had much higher efficiency compared to resistive electric since it moves heat from the basement to the water and had the benefit of dehumidifying the basement somewhat too. This change moved emissions from exhausting just outside of our house and in our neighborhood and moved those emissions to the power plant which can reduce even further as the grid becomes cleaner. Our house came with a gas stove which due to ongoing information on the indoor air quality including those from the American Chemical Society https://tinyurl.com/jmermbrf and Journal of Building Engineering https://tinyurl.com/uyr3k2sd we plan on replacing with an induction stove. Would like our future kid(s) to live in a healthier home environment with the added benefit of lowering the chance to get burns by eliminating the hot surface risk of conductive electric stoves.
I want to electrify my life except, the next step is my car. My approximately 100-mile round trip commute will be in an electric vehicle next year. I hope I can source renewable power generated here in the Mid-Ohio Valley and keep money here to benefit the community. I not only will be getting 60+ miles per gallon equivalent on the current grid carbon intensity according to the Union of Concerned Scientists calculator (https://evtool.ucsusa.org/) which beats my current 39 mpg. I’m making a huge impact in a few years in regards to carbon emissions (https://tinyurl.com/mrfhdkjb).
What might we do to prepare for an electric future? Have proactive policies in place to make it cost less focused on construction and major remodels.
Plug in America has a policy toolkit to consider how to think and plan for the future: https://tinyurl.com/3bxn895m.
Rewiring America has an accessible tool to explore tax incentives available to you to help with upgrades: https://www.rewiringamerica.org/
Support development of renewables in the Mid-Ohio Valley. We can benefit from diversifying our tax sources, provide opportunities to diversify income for our county residents, and hedge risk in the economics of maturing technology.
Support “Agrivolatics.” If you are not familiar, it pairs solar with crops and livestock that benefit or have a net zero impact while providing stable revenue to the landowners.
Rethink how you’re powered. Rethink the future.
Other related links:
Jonathan Brier is a Marietta resident, information scientist, and an Eagle Scout. He is a member of the Citizen Science Association, Association of Computing Machinery, American Association for the Advancement of Science, OpenStreetMap US, Mid-Ohio Valley Climate Action, and a Wikipedia contributor. If you want to know more about citizen science or to reach him, visit https://brierjon.com or email: firstname.lastname@example.org
There is a lot of scholarly work looking at gas stoves and indoor air quality https://scholar.google.com/scholar?as–ylo=2022&q=gas+stoves+and+indoor+air+quality&hl=en&as–sdt=0,36
American Chemical Society – https://doi.org/10.1021/acs.est.1c04707
Journal of Building Engineering – https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S2352710222009202