Heat pump installation. - Photo by Michael McAteer

Town supports homeowners switching to electricity

By Betsy Levinson - betsy@theconcordbridge.org

According to Jan Aceti, energy conservation coordinator at the Concord Municipal Light Plant, Concord is a great place to live if you want to adopt a fossil-fuel free lifestyle.

As part of the town’s climate goals, residents are offered rebates and tax incentives to move away from oil and gas toward heat pumps and other approaches.

“Think of heat pumps as air conditioners that also run in reverse,” Aceti explained. “In winter, today’s cold climate heat pumps can reliably extract heat from air that is 5 degrees or even colder. Then in summer, they provide all the benefits of central AC in homes both with and without ducts.”

Aceti said in 2021, 85 percent of Concord’s electricity came from carbon-free sources, a percentage that is expected to increase to 100 percent by 2033.

Aceti said about 325 homes are powered electrically, but that’s probably an undercount, with most installed since 2018.

To incentivize the public away from fossil fuel, the light plant offers a $10,000 rebate on a whole home air-sourced pump, and $15,00 for a ground source pump for the whole home. There is less of a rebate for partial pumps that are still widely available and neither rebate applies to new construction.

A recent analysis the light plant did for a Concord resident with a 2,400 sq. ft. home showed that, at today’s electricity and oil prices, the resident is saving several hundred dollars a year by installing a heat pump rather than the oil furnace she had previously.

Can the town handle it.

The pumps run on electricity, and Aceti said the town is well prepared to handle it.

She said peak demand was 38 megawatts (MW) in 2021. “We have contracts with Eversource to deliver 60 MW of power to Concord,” said Aceti.

“Our local distribution equipment can deliver 70 MW of power to our community,” she said.

Another boon for Concord residents is the Concord Clean Comfort Program. Its website is www.concordcleancomfort.org. This program, started last February, provides free coaching for residents regarding the installation and purchase options. Since its inception, Aceti said the local two consultants get a request for coaching services just about once a day.

“The objective is impartial information,” she said.

Electric Vehicles

The town has seven EV public charging stations, with plans for more. (See map for locations.) But according to Aceti, charging an EV at home at night or on weekends saves money due to lower demand.

The town offers an EV rebate for charging from home during off-peak hours. Also there can be a $1,000 purchasing incentive for an EV and $250 rebate to install a 240 volt outlet or charging station.

In other news, CMLP offers a $750 rebate for electrically-powered heat pump water heaters in new construction or that replace oil, gas or propane-fired water heaters. There are solar panel rebates up to $3,125.

“Thanks to funding from a generous Concord resident, homeowners replacing gas-powered mowers are eligible for $100 electric lawn mower rebates, distributed by the light plant while funds last.

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