Albany leadership should look out for struggling New Yorkers, not National Fuel's bottom line

ALBANY, NY (04/16/2024) (readMedia)-- This morning, following Governor Hochul's "parameters of a conceptual agreement" that left out the NY HEAT Act, the primary legislation New York's climate movement is fighting for this budget season, Politico reported that the NY HEAT Act is "likely out of reach in a budget deal."

In response, Rich Schrader, Director of New York Government Affairs at the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) said:

"The NY HEAT Act is essential to fighting the climate crisis. Period. Albany leadership must step up and take real responsibility, or New York will be left without a plan as we face this spiraling existential crisis. We need the NY HEAT Act now and that includes ending the obligation to serve for new and existing customers. We cannot afford anything less, and we expect Albany leadership not to give up."


According to a recent Siena Poll, cost of living is the most important issue facing most New Yorkers this election season, while more than two-thirds of New Yorkers want to see bold action on climate change. Double-digit rate hikes from ConEd, National Grid, NYSEG, RG&E, Central Hudson, National Fuel Gas, and O&R only exacerbate the cost of living problem. New York lawmakers can protect families by passing the NY HEAT Act in the budget and limiting household utility bills to 6% of a family's income.

According to a new statewide report from WIN Climate and NY Renews, the NY HEAT Act would save the 24% of all households that struggle to afford their energy bills an average of $142 each month-cutting bills in half. In Erie County, where National Fuel Gas operates, the NY HEAT Act would save the 24% of energy burdened residents an average of $109 per month.

The NY HEAT Act would curtail new investments in the dirty, outdated, fracked gas system to the tune of more than a billion dollars every year on the backs of utility bill payers while accelerating fossil fuel-generated climate change that supercharges storms, floods, and wildfires and drives deadly extreme heat and cold. The bill would also amend the utilities' obligation to provide gas service to allow utilities to provide cheaper and clean heating alternatives at no cost to customers. In addition to cost savings detailed above, the bill gets rid of the unfair 100-foot rule, which forces New York families to subsidize new gas hookups to the tune of $200 million every year.

In January, Governor Hochul included key provisions of the NY HEAT Act in her Executive Budget proposal. Last month, the Senate reaffirmed its support for the NY HEAT Act by passing the full bill, and for the first time, the NY HEAT Act has 76 sponsors in the Assembly - majority support in the chamber. It is a budget priority for the Black, Puerto Rican, Hispanic & Asian Legislative Caucus. Now, Governor Hochul and Assembly leadership have an unprecedented opportunity to pass legislation that would modernize New York's utility regulations and include critical language to save New Yorkers struggling to afford their heating bills more money for other crucial expenses.

Despite widespread support for the NY HEAT Act, in recent years, major fossil fuel companies have set up a front group called "New Yorkers for Affordable Energy" to spread misinformation about New York's climate policies. Last year, utility company National Fuel Gas was caught spending ratepayer money to advocate against the All-Electric Building Act and the NY HEAT Act - policies that are in ratepayers' best interests. The President of National Fuel Gas was also recently the chairperson of the Business Council of New York State, which announced in October 2023 a $1 million ad campaign urging Governor Hochul to roll back New York's nation-leading climate law. The fossil fuel industry is more interested in spending big to protect its profits than in protecting the pockets of struggling New Yorkers and preventing catastrophic climate change.

About Better Buildings New York

BBNY is a coalition of organizations working for the equitable decarbonization of homes and buildings in New York State. We are committed to environmental justice and a just transition to all-electric homes and buildings.