Dual-Fuel in Riverdale: How One Co-op Saves Big and How You Can, Too
Joseph Bohm was frustrated. As he saw fuel prices rising, he thought the co-op in which he lived was “missing a bet. We were losing money,” he recalls. “It bothered me no end where heating-oil prices were relative to gas prices. I pushed the board to make a change to gas, or to a dual-fuel system” where the co-op could switch from one source of fuel to another, depending on price. No one was really sure how to go about doing it. Nor was I.” Here’s how he found out.
It was 2008 and co-op board member Bohm knew something about gas already, since he was working at Sempra Energy as a natural-gas trader. (He subsequently left Sempra to start his own firm, Dual Fuel Corp.) Changing from oil to gas or having dual-fuel capacity at Bohm’s 97-unit Riverdale co-op, The Imperial, was not a simple task.
“It looked to be expensive,” he recalls. “We had a limited amount in reserves and this would deplete our reserves significantly. The board, he says, “wanted to know, ‘How do we know we’re going to get savings? Is there a payback here?’ “I was a committee of one. I worked with the president, I worked with the treasurer. We hired a plumber, we hired boiler mechanics.”
Issues ranged from dealing with Con Ed to deciding “who was going to paint a fence that covers the meter set. Every headache comes out if you work for a time — and this project took a lot of time. There are many steps in the process. You have to get the internal work in the building done, and you have to get the external work, which is Con Ed, done. You have to have the DOB [Department of Buildings] sign off on the job for the gas-conversion work. Once they’re in there, they’re going to cite anything they see; you have to make sure everything is tip-top.
Yes, There Is.
“If everything moves very fast and is perfect, the job can take four months; I found that the average job takes eight months. If you can do it in six months, then you’re doing a great job from statt to finish. If you’re doing it in a year, that’s a long time.
“The savings are tremendous,” he concludes. ”We were budgeting fuel for 230 grand a year and now we’re budgeting for 85 grand. That payback was two years.”
Habitat, October 2012