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Why isn’t it easier to install a heat pump in California?

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The nation’s electric utilities have voiced overwhelming support for reducing carbon emissions. Eighty percent of U.S. electricity customers are served by a utility with a 100% carbon-reduction target, according to the Smart Electric Power Alliance, and utility executives have touted their sustainability plans at the U.N. Climate Conference, Davos and beyond.

So why is it so hard to get help switching to a climate-friendly heat pump?

Marvels of modern engineering, heat pumps provide heating and cooling by transferring warm or cold air into or out of a home, eliminating the need to generate heat. They have been shown to substantially slash consumer heating costs and cut greenhouse gas emissions up to 50%.

Like so many other Americans who helped fuel a residential construction boom following the onset of the pandemic, I recently embarked on a wholesale remodel of my home in the Bay Area. Unlike most of my fellow remodelers, I make my living analyzing trends in customer experience with the nation’s electric, gas and water utilities. As an energy nerd, I saw the project as a chance to delve into the various incentives that the utilities have been promoting to facilitate my conversion from a gas-fired furnace to an electric heat pump.

What I found was a tangle of red tape, well-meaning but tragically ill-informed customer service representatives, and hours upon hours of filing forms, chasing down obscure information and questioning contractors — all in a quixotic quest to claim my local, state and federal rebates.

Heat pumps loom large as a component of electric utility sustainability initiatives. The Biden administration recently announced that $63 million in Inflation Reduction Act funding would be used to spur domestic manufacturing of heat pumps, and local, state and federal incentives have been deployed in most jurisdictions nationwide to encourage consumers to make the switch.

At the federal level, consumers are eligible for a tax credit that covers 30% of the cost of buying and installing a heat pump, up to a maximum of $2,000 per year. The TECH Clean California program offers incentives to contractors to install heat pumps, and the Los Angeles Department of Water & Power and other utilities offer rebates and other benefits. In Marin County, where I live, state, county and local incentives promised to bring the total rebate on my project to almost $5,000.

That prospect, along with the long-term value of increased efficiency, was enough to persuade me to take the plunge on a system that was a bit more expensive than a comparable gas furnace. Moreover, my extensive research on the subject was enough to overcome widespread misconceptions about the technology and its ability to comfortably heat and cool my home.

The good news is that my heat pump works wonderfully! It’s so good that I’ve started recommending one to my friends and neighbors. It isn’t loud or dry like traditional heat; it’s even and smooth. The system allowed much more flexibility in our construction and design. And, best of all, I now have central cooling for the first time.

Unfortunately, I’ve also put hours of work into chasing rebates I still haven’t received.

Ironically, the easiest part of the process was applying for a federal rebate through the Internal Revenue Service. When the IRS sets the benchmark for customer service, you know you have a problem.

Among the challenges I faced were an hour-plus conversation with a friendly Pacific Gas & Electric Co. representative who knew absolutely nothing about heat pump programs; an apologetic county official who informed me that I would need to fill out a commercial form even though my project was residential because “that’s the way the paperwork is written”; and even a request to provide detailed photos of my old gas furnace — the one that had already been removed — to prove I had made the switch.

Fortunately, because I was documenting the process partly for my own education, I had those photos and welcomed the opportunity to find all the hurdles consumers face. But will typical consumers — those who don’t spend their workdays analyzing the minutiae of utility customer experience — even bother to deal with this craziness? Probably not.

Perhaps that has something to do with the widespread customer apathy toward electric utility sustainability efforts. J.D. Power’s most recent study of this topic found that just 19% of customers were even aware of their utility’s carbon reduction initiatives.

We’re living in an era of amazing technological innovation, and we have public policies designed to catalyze consumer adoption of these breakthroughs. But if the same old bureaucratic hurdles stand in the way of access to those programs, no one wins.

There is a huge opportunity here for innovative utilities to take the lead on improving not only our policies but also the mechanisms that make them work. As a utilities industry professional, I’m optimistic that our leaders will take up this cause. As a consumer, I just hope I eventually get my rebate.

Andrew Heath is the vice president of utilities intelligence at J.D. Power.



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Barcelona 1-4 Paris St-Germain (Agg: 4-6): Kylian Mbappe scores twice as PSG reach last four

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PSG players celebrate
Paris St-Germain are into their first Champions League semi-final in three years

Kylian Mbappe scored twice as Paris St-Germain thrashed Barcelona to turn around a first-leg deficit and reach the semi-finals of the Champions League.

PSG had trailed 3-2 after the first leg in France but took advantage of an early Barcelona sending off to secure their place in the last four for the first time since 2021.

Luis Enrique’s side face a semi-final against Borussia Dortmund, who beat Atletico Madrid 5-4 on aggregate in a thrilling encounter in Germany.

The semi-final first leg takes place on 30 April with the second leg on 7 May.

More to follow.

helpHow to play

Rate players out of 10 throughout or after the game. The rater will close 30 minutes after the final whistle.

Rating range key1 = Give it up10 = Pure perfection

Barcelona

  1. Squad number1Player nameter Stegen

  2. Squad number23Player nameKoundé

  3. Squad number4Player nameAraujo

  4. Squad number33Player nameCubarsí

  5. Squad number2Player nameJoão Cancelo

  6. Squad number8Player namePedri

  7. Squad number22Player nameGündogan

  8. Squad number21Player nameF de Jong

  9. Squad number27Player nameYamal

  10. Squad number9Player nameLewandowski

  11. Squad number11Player nameRaphinha

  1. Squad number5Player nameMartínez

  2. Squad number7Player nameF Torres

  3. Squad number14Player nameJoão Félix

  4. Squad number32Player nameLópez

Paris Saint Germain

  1. Squad number99Player nameG Donnarumma

  2. Squad number2Player nameHakimi

  3. Squad number5Player nameMarquinhos

  4. Squad number21Player nameHernández

  5. Squad number25Player nameNuno Mendes

  6. Squad number33Player nameZaïre-Emery

  7. Squad number17Player nameVitinha

  8. Squad number8Player nameRuiz

  9. Squad number10Player nameDembélé

  10. Squad number7Player nameMbappé

  11. Squad number29Player nameBarcola

  1. Squad number4Player nameUgarte

  2. Squad number11Player nameAsensio

  3. Squad number19Player nameLee Kang-in

  4. Squad number23Player nameKolo Muani

Line-ups

Barcelona

Formation 4-3-3

  • 1ter Stegen
  • 23Koundé
  • 4AraujoBooked at 29mins
  • 33Cubarsí
  • 2CanceloSubstituted forJoão Félixat 82′minutes
  • 8PedriSubstituted forF Torresat 62′minutes
  • 22GündoganBooked at 64mins
  • 21F de JongSubstituted forLópezat 82′minutesBooked at 90mins
  • 27YamalSubstituted forMartínezat 34′minutesBooked at 40mins
  • 9LewandowskiBooked at 50mins
  • 11RaphinhaBooked at 90mins

Substitutes

  • 5Martínez
  • 7F Torres
  • 13Peña Sotorres
  • 14João Félix
  • 17Alonso
  • 18Romeu
  • 19Roque Ferreira
  • 26Astralaga
  • 30Casadó
  • 32López
  • 38Guiu
  • 39Fort

PSG

Formation 4-3-3

  • 99G DonnarummaBooked at 87mins
  • 2Hakimi
  • 5MarquinhosBooked at 62mins
  • 21Hernández
  • 25Nuno Mendes
  • 33Zaïre-EmerySubstituted forUgarteat 80′minutes
  • 17Vitinha
  • 8RuizBooked at 45minsSubstituted forAsensioat 77′minutes
  • 10DembéléSubstituted forKolo Muaniat 88′minutes
  • 7MbappéBooked at 40mins
  • 29BarcolaSubstituted forLee Kang-inat 77′minutes

Substitutes

  • 1Navas
  • 4Ugarte
  • 9Gonçalo Ramos
  • 11Asensio
  • 15Danilo
  • 19Lee Kang-in
  • 23Kolo Muani
  • 26Mukiele
  • 28Soler
  • 35Lopes Beraldo
  • 37Skriniar
  • 80Tenas

Referee:
István Kovács

Live Text





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Magnitude 2.8 earthquake reported in View Park-Windsor Hills

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A magnitude 2.8 earthquake was reported Tuesday at 8:19 a.m. Pacific time in Los Angeles’ View Park-Windsor Hills neighborhood, according to the U.S. Geological Survey.

The earthquake‘s epicenter was 7.1 miles beneath the intersection of Overland Drive and Northridge Drive, near Windsor Hills Elementary School. .

In the last 10 days, there have been no earthquakes of magnitude 3.0 or greater centered nearby.

An average of 59 earthquakes with magnitudes between 2.0 and 3.0 occur per year in the Greater Los Angeles area, according to a recent three-year data sample.

Did you feel this earthquake? Consider reporting what you felt to the USGS.

Are you ready for when the Big One hits? Get ready for the next big earthquake by signing up for our Unshaken newsletter, which breaks down emergency preparedness into bite-sized steps over six weeks. Learn more about earthquake kits, which apps you need, Lucy Jones’ most important advice and more at latimes.com/Unshaken.

This story was automatically generated by Quakebot, a computer application that monitors the latest earthquakes detected by the USGS. A Times editor reviewed the post before it was published. If you’re interested in learning more about the system, visit our list of frequently asked questions.



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Justice Thomas returns to Supreme Court after 1-day absence

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WASHINGTON (AP) — Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas is back on the bench after an unexplained one-day absence.

Thomas, 75, was in his usual seat, to the right of Chief Justice John Roberts as the court met to hear arguments in a case about the Capitol riot on Jan. 6, 2021.

Thomas has ignored calls from some progressive groups to step aside from cases involving Jan. 6 because his wife, Ginni, attended then-President Donald Trump‘s rally near the White House before protesters descended on the Capitol. Ginni Thomas, a conservative activist, also texted senior Trump administration officials in the weeks after the election offering support and reiterating her belief that there was widespread fraud in the election.

On Monday, Roberts announced Thomas’ absence, without providing an explanation. Justices sometimes miss court, but participate remotely. Thomas did not take part in Monday’s arguments.

He was hospitalized two years ago with an infection, causing him to miss several court sessions. He took part in the cases then, too.

Thomas is the longest serving of the current justices, joining the Supreme Court in 1991.



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