As the largest and one of the most densely populated cities in America, New York City is facing a very significant environmental danger – air pollution. Over 5% of deaths in NYC is attributed to contaminated air. One of the main pollutants in NYC is fine particulate matter (PM 2.5) which is responsible for over 3,000 deaths, 2,000 hospital admissions for lung and heart conditions, and approximately 6,000 ER visits for asthma every year.
Nearly 9000 buildings, many among the wealthy neighborhoods of the Upper Manhattan, are still burning No. 6 or No. 4 heating oil today. This mere 1% of the city produces over 85% of all the soot pollution in the city, more than every motor vehicle on the streets combined. Air pollution and smog from combusting low-grade No. 6 and No. 4 heating oil is a cause of asthma attacks. Soot pollution can irritate the lungs, exacerbate conditions like asthma and increase the threats of heart attacks and premature death.
In April 2011, Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s PlaNYC green initiative begun the phasing out of low grade heating oils in the NYC. Every building in the city will be required to stop burning No. 6 oil and must run on cleaner-burning No. 2 or No. 4 oil or on natural gas by July 2015. And by 2030, No. 4 oil will be phased out as well. Effective immediately, the city will deny any applications for #6 and #4 oil usage for new installations, and will instead have to use ultra-low sulfur No. 2 oil, natural gas, biodiesel, steam, etc.
Starting July 2012, existing buildings that use No. 6 oil must convert to No. 4 oil or cleaner fuels before their three-year certificate of operation expires. Consequently, a complete abolition of No. 6 oil use by summer 2015 is expected. By 2030 or upon boiler or burner replacement, whichever comes first, all buildings must also stop burning No. 4 oil. The impact of these decisions on illnesses such as asthma and heart disease will be significant.
Buildings with hot water boilers and burners using No. 6 oil have the low-cost option of first converting to No. 4 oil by 2015, or they can switch directly to No. 2 oil or gas. Buildings using No. 4 heating oil have until 2030 to switch to No. 2 oil, gas, or both. The DEP estimates the conversion from No. 6 to No. 4 heating oil will cost approximately $10,000, but much more for the conversion to gas.
Buildings also have the opportunity to convert from low grade oil to both No. 2 oil and gas in an interruptible system. This option offers buildings the flexibility of burning whichever is cheaper at the moment. On the other hand, switching to an interruptible system may require installing a dual-fuel burner and other equipment that a system burning only No. 2 oil wouldn’t need. Firm gas systems also require new equipment, but utilities normally offer cheaper rates for firm gas service than they do for interruptible service.
Con Edison estimates that 70% of the buildings in New York City burning No. 4 or No. 6 heating oil are situated within the service territory of its gas distribution network, and is continuously expanding into identified Area Growth Zones (AGZ). The rest would have to settle with converting to No. 2 oil, biodiesel, or steam due to the limited expanse of the gas network.
Because of the high cost of an oil to gas conversion, compliance waivers and extended compliance schedules will be deliberated through the Department of Environmental Protection. But because natural gas is less expensive than oils for the same heating output, the average payback period will only be 2 to 5 years for a typical building. While switching from No. 6 to No. 4 oil is cheaper upfront, many buildings can save substantial sums in the long run by switching to the cleanest available fuel.
To offset the significant upfront costs of moving to natural gas, Con Edison offers zero capital construction cost to buildings that lie in one of their AGZs. Con Edison will install the necessary gas service and/or main to your building’s property line with no capital construction costs to the property owner as long as they have only one gas service for the building’s gas load, use a firm gas service, and use Con Edison’s identified Point of Entry for the building. Furthermore, Con Edison and National Grid both have incentive programs for residential properties up to 75 units. Conversion rebates per unit and new-equipment rebates of up to $15,000 are available. Contact Bright Energy Services to help you secure financial incentives for these types of projects.
Before you decide to make the switch to cleaner fuels, it is important that a qualified team of engineers and mechanical contractors first run an analysis of your building’s heating system. The data is necessary to determine the building’s current heating requirements and fuel consumption, the projected usage post-conversion, the expenses for new service and equipment, the estimated annual savings, and the expected payback period for the project. Call Bright Energy Services for your oil to gas conversion today!