During Climate Week, 11 NYC Council Members Urge Governor to Commit to the NY HEAT Act in 2025 Budget

With more than 8 in 10 voters saying cost of living in NY is a major problem, Council Members urge Governor to pass NY HEAT Act to reduce energy costs

NEW YORK, NY (09/22/2023) (readMedia)-- This morning, during NYC Climate Week, 11 NYC Council Members sent a letter to Governor Hochul urging her to commit to passing the NY HEAT Act in the 2025 executive budget. According to a Siena Poll released this week, 8 in 10 New Yorkers across party lines say the high cost of living in New York is a major problem. ConEd's electric and gas rates were increased in August, and National Grid and Central Hudson are also in the process of pursuing rate hikes, contributing to New York's cost of living problem. But Governor Hochul can pass the NY HEAT Act and reduce the energy burden for New Yorkers across the state, while reducing climate-warming greenhouse gas and air pollution emissions.

In their letter, Council Members wrote:

"It's NYC Climate Week, with over 400 events and activities happening across the city focused on climate action. Climate Week is an opportunity to show the nation and the world how NYC leads on climate – and with the passage of the NYC zero emissions building act and the All-Electric Building Act, New York is in an especially strong position to demonstrate what effective climate and energy policy really looks like. But it's not enough. New Yorkers are still forced to pour too much money into the dirty and outdated fracked gas system that's warming our planet and driving deadly extreme weather. This NYC climate week, we urge you to commit to including the NY HEAT Act in your 2025 state budget."

Read the full letter from NYC Council Members.

The NY HEAT Act would save low and middle income families money – up to $75/month – on their energy bills so they don't spend more than 6% of their income for energy. That's significant savings for families that already spend three times more of their income on energy bills than other households. The bill would save all gas customers in New York $200 million annually by ending the 100-foot rule, which forces every day New Yorkers to subsidize the expansion of the gas system. It will also allow utilities to redirect an estimated $150 billion that it will cost to complete planned gas pipe replacements over the next 20 years, and instead invest in neighborhood-scale building electrification that will free rate payers from volatile price spikes driven by reliance on fossil fuels. By ending the 100-foot rule and other important provisions that would help New York get off gas, the NY HEAT Act would accelerate New York's transition off climate-killing fossil fuels. This summer, New Yorkers felt the impact of climate change more than ever, experiencing public health and environmental crises like extreme heat, flooding, and wildfire smoke.

Extreme weather defined summer 2023 in New York. Early September's three-day heat wave sent temperatures 20 degrees higher than usual. July and August were the planet's hottest months on record. Heat kills about 350 New Yorkers each year, with Black New Yorkers more than twice as likely to die from heat as white residents. This number will likely rise as climate change worsens. And according to research covered in the New York Times, heat waves across the United States would have been 'virtually impossible' without the influence of human-caused climate change.

It's not just extreme heat costing New Yorkers' lives and wallets because of climate change. New Yorkers choked on toxic air several times throughout this summer thanks to smoke from the Canadian wildfires. During the first 'Smoke Bomb,' NYC ERs saw double the usual amount of asthma visits. And earlier in July, Assembly Member Sarahana Shrestha held a press conference at the Rhinecliff Amtrak Station, demanding the Assembly pass the NY HEAT Act following the devastating flooding in the Hudson Valley. The torrential rainfall with 9 inches of rain in over 24 hours killed an Orange County resident. It also knocked out Amtrak and Metro-North service for three days and completely washed away highways, making it impossible for people to get to work. The damage from the flooding is estimated to cost over $35 million.


The NY HEAT Act passed the Senate at the end of last session, and momentum around the bill, which now has 70 co-sponsors in the Assembly, continued all summer. Throughout August, more than 30 lawmakers participated in the "Hot, Broke Summer" ice cream tour across NYC, handing ice cream out to their constituents, talking about energy savings and climate change, and building support for the bill.

In 2022 and 2023, NY HEAT was blocked by campaigns financed by the fossil fuel industry. In 2023, the utility National Fuel Gas used ratepayer money to finance a campaign against building electrification. And in 2022, a campaign financed by the fossil fuel industry that spread disinformation and lies derailed the bill. The industry has set up a front group called New Yorkers for Affordable Energy to preserve the status quo. A report from Little Sis reviewed the organization's tax filings which show that its mission is "to expand natural gas service." The group is meant to have the appearance of a grassroots coalition, but it was founded and is run by fossil fuel executives. From the report: "The coalition is backed by a range of fossil fuel companies and lobbying groups, including utility companies National Fuel and National Grid; pipeline companies Williams, Enbridge, and Millennium Pipeline; and the American Petroleum Institute. Other backers include corporate lobbying groups like the Business Council of New York State, regional chambers of commerce like the Buffalo Niagara Partnership, and fossil fuel industry trade groups like Independent Power Producers of New York and Energy Coalition New York."

Nationwide, the fossil fuel industry is still heavily involved in misinformation efforts against necessary legislation like this. The New York Times reported about the Propane Education Research Council sponsoring HGTV star Matt Blashaw. Blashaw calls propane - which contributes to climate change and is the most expensive heating fuel- "an energy source for everyone."

About Better Buildings New York (BBNY)

BBNY is a network 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 zero emissions homes and buildings.

*$75/month savings calculated using 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.