Bronx Families Could Save Big On Energy With NY HEAT Act

AMs Tapia, Reyes, Sen. Sepulveda, CM Oswald Feliz and debut new tool with advocates, residents to calculate energy savings for low-income Bronx families; Urge Albany leaders to put NY HEAT Act in 2024 Budget

BRONX, NY (02/09/2024) (readMedia)-- This afternoon, Assembly Members Yudelka Tapia, Karines Reyes, Senator Luis Sepúlveda, and Councilmember Oswald Feliz held a press conference with residents and advocates to debut a new calculator tool that shows Bronx families how much they could save on monthly utility bills if Albany leaders pass the NY HEAT Act.

As Con Edison begins phasing in gas and electric rate hikes that will total an additional $60/month by January 2025 for customers who pay for their gas heat, NY lawmakers have an opportunity to relieve energy burdens by passing the HEAT Act, which would put protections in place to save struggling Bronx residents up to $140 each month* while curbing future rate increases. Governor Hochul embraced key parts of the HEAT Act in her Executive Budget proposal. Now, lawmakers can deliver relief for families by including the full bill in their one-house budgets.

See the calculator tool here.

Watch the presser here.

View photos from the event here.

"Today, we have once again declared and demanded our right to clean air, fair utility prices, and dignity. Without the passage of NY HEAT this legislative session, the people of the Bronx will continue to spend more of their income on utilities than any other county in New York State. They will continue to be forced to pay for the expansion of a fracked gas system whose health impacts have devastated generations of working-class residents. My district is no stranger to these issues. In Morris Heights, Fordham South, and Mount Hope, 40% of our families are energy burdened. In the Tremont-Claremont area, the annual rate of adult asthma-related emergency room visits is almost three times higher than that of NYC as a whole. I am proud to stand with my colleagues and community advocates in supporting this vital piece of legislation," said Assemblymember Yudelka Tapia.

The NY HEAT Act will provide critical relief for both Bronx residents and New Yorkers statewide. According to a Siena Poll, 8 in 10 New Yorkers across party lines agree that the high cost of living in New York is a major problem. Higher energy costs, exacerbated by double-digit rate hikes not just from ConEd, but also from National Grid, RG&E, NYSEG, National Fuel Gas, CenHud, and O&R, only exacerbate the cost of living problem.

The NY HEAT Act, which has 75 sponsors in the NYS Assembly and passed the NYS Senate last year, will stop the expansion of the dirty, outdated, fracked gas system to protect the climate. It will reduce future rate increases by prioritizing clean energy investments instead of spending billions of dollars on new fracked gas pipes. The crucial provision of the NY HEAT Act that will put a limit on household utility bills to 6% of household income would save New Yorkers who are not part of utility Energy Affordability Programs up to $75/month** on their energy bills. The bill also 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 while accelerating fossil fuel-generated climate change that supercharges storms, floods, and wildfires – turning the sky orange and the air toxic – and drives deadly extreme heat and cold.

"New Yorkers living in disadvantaged communities already spend a disproportionate amount of their household income on energy, and tend to live in energy inefficient homes, which means they require more energy to maintain a healthy indoor air temperature. As a result, more than 1.2 million New Yorkers are struggling to pay their energy bills this winter. The NY HEAT Act will ensure that these New Yorkers are not paying more than 6 percent of their household income on their energy bill, and this calculator is a helpful way to estimate how much the NY HEAT Act can save them," said Annie Carforo, Climate Justice Campaigns Manager at WE ACT for Environmental Justice.

"As we stand together in solidarity to advocate for the full passage of the NY Heat Act, we must acknowledge the disproportionate burden placed on historically marginalized communities like the South Bronx. Residents often have limited access to affordable housing and are more likely to live in neighborhoods with older, inefficient heating systems, resulting in higher energy costs and poorer indoor air quality. By enacting the full NY Heat Act, we can ensure that every New Yorker has access to adorable and clean heating options," said Leslie Vasquez, Clean Air Program Organizer at South Bronx Unite.

About Renewable Heat Now (RHN)

RHN is a network of organizations working to accelerate the adoption of ground-source (geothermal) and air-source heat pumps in New York to reduce the amount of fossil fuels used to heat and cool our homes and workplaces. We are committed to environmental justice and a just transition to all-electric homes and buildings.

*Researchers calculated average monthly savings under the HEAT Act by using Census data to look at average utility bill costs against the average income of the second quintile of household income in different Bronx community districts.

**$75/month savings calculated using a 9.3% average energy burden in the NYC metro area for low-income families and 200% of the federal poverty level income of $27,180 for a one-person household.