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Day of action focuses on CT undocumented's healthcare needs; 7 jurors seated in first Trump criminal trial; ND looks to ease 'upskill' obstacles for former college students; Black Maternal Health Week ends, health disparities persist.

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Seven jury members were seated in Trump's hush money case. House Speaker Johnson could lose his job over Ukraine aid. And the SCOTUS heard oral arguments in a case that could undo charges for January 6th rioters.

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Fears grow that low-income folks living in USDA housing could be forced out, North Carolina's small and Black-owned farms are helped by new wind and solar revenues, and small towns are eligible for grants to boost civic participation..

Report: MD grid can manage transition to electric heating

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Monday, January 29, 2024   

A recent study shows Maryland's electric grid is well positioned to manage the transition to electrification as outlined in the state's climate goals.

In the 2022 Climate Solutions Now Act, the state pledged to achieve net zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2045.

The act also directed the Public Service Commission to study energy production and distribution capacity to determine if the transition away from fossil fuels for space and water heating would strain the grid.

The report assessed the impact by looking at three different electrification scenarios, and estimated demand growth would be at most just over 2% per year between now and 2031.

Lead study author Sanem Sergici, Ph.D. - the principal at the The Brattle Group - said these peak demand scenarios appear modest next to growth rates seen in the past.

"We think that this will be quite manageable, especially if you compare it to the growth that Maryland's system has experienced in the past," said Sergici. "We looked back 40 years, and we have seen periods in which Maryland peak demand has grown at 4%, 5%."

She said utilities were able to increase capacity in the 1980s without large price hikes to ratepayers.

Electricity demand currently peaks in the summer, but the report anticipates the electrification of heating will cause a switch to winter peaking by the end of 2027.

The study focused on electrification in residential single and multifamily housing and large office buildings.

Assuming the widespread adoption of heat pumps in coming years, the study looked at three scenarios in which backups for the coldest hours of the year are maintained.

Scenario 1 assumes the continued use of heating oil or propane as backup, and would result in the smallest increase in load demand per year at just over 0.5%.

Scenario 2 posits the use of cold-climate heat pumps, which do not require backup - their impact on demand is just over 1% per year.

Continued use of baseboard heating is assumed in scenario 3 and would increase demand just over 2%. The report looked at the system as a whole and does not say when and where upgrades will be needed.

Sergici said the study conclusions do not mean no investment will be necessary.

"Even though this is manageable at the system level," said Sergici, "utilities should be doing their own detailed and very granular distribution planning studies to figure out where they will need to expand the capacity of the grid early on, so that they can get ahead of some of those challenging problems. "

The report also says that with more energy-efficiency and load-flexibility incentives, the state could see reductions in demand of as much as 1% per year, offsetting at least part of the load growth from electrification.

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