After Grid Warning, a Call for Moratoriums on Electric Heat Pumps

Originally published by NEFI in 2021.

Today, 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 in Texas earlier this year, 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 reducing emissions 15% by 2023, 40% by 2030, and achieving 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 the National Energy & Fuels Institute, 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 sending a letter to each of the governors, NEFI and its state association partners hosted an online press conference, which was attended by reporters from several regional newspapers and TV stations.