Continuing questions

Last updated: January 31, 2023

This is just a running list of continuing questions of policy interest. Source suggestions welcome.

  • Labor force questions —
    • Can we put a finer point on the current level of overload of HVAC contractors? Some interviews might help.
    • What metrics on the size of the heat pump workforce can we put in place — numbers of licenses, apprentices in the training pipeline, etc.
    • How does our current portfolio of workforce development programs add up?
    • How can we dovetail electrification workforce development with vocational school issues?
    • How can we dovetail electrification workforce development with equity issues?
  • How strong are our current programs targeting low and moderate-income housing for efficiency improvements and electrification? What more can we do?
  • Can we sharpen our analysis of heat pump economics?
    • What are the best assumptions about electric rates over the coming 10 or 15 years (the relevant horizon for heat pump benefit cost computations)? How are electric rates most likely to vary relative to gas and oil prices?
    • Should electric rate assumptions differ for customers of (a) investor-owned utilities, (b) municipal utilities, and (c) municipal aggregators? Or will the current pricing differences among these categories wash out?
    • Can we develop a robust typology of homes (including energy efficiency ratings) and develop better cost estimates for efficiency and electrification improvements?
    • NOTE: Carbon-motivated consumers probably do not heavily consider operating costs at the time of heat pump installation, but it’s important to set accurate operating cost expectations to avoid surprises.
  • Can we sharpen our analysis of heat pump emissions benefits?
    • How should we think about carbon embodied in heat pumps and home insulation projects?
    • What is the right real-world assumption about heat pump refrigerant leakage? To what extent are electrification benefits canceled out by leakage?
    • For how long should we assume that heat pump usage in winter draws power from natural gas generators and should that affect our pacing of heat pump conversions?
    • How are “integrated controls” working out in practice for consumers and from a carbon perspective?
    • What does the recent history of actual emissions from the building sector tell us about the effectiveness of our home insulation efforts?
    • How should we be limiting heat pump installations to insure actual carbon benefits from our investment?
    • For consumers making carbon-motivated investments, how do heat pumps compare to other alternatives?
  • Power grid readiness — where are we in our planning to support higher peak power needs on the generation side and in regional transmission and local distribution?
    • What is the worst winter event that we should attempt to prepare for? What does weather data say about the longest period of minimal wind that we should plan for in winter?

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