ALBANY, NY (01/24/2023) (readMedia)-- On Tuesday, nearly 200 advocates from across New York gathered with electeds at the Capitol. The group called on Governor Hochul to uphold her State of the State commitments by including the All Electric Buildings Act (S562A), the NY Home Energy Affordable Transition (NY HEAT – S2016) Act and the Energy Efficiency, Equity, and Jobs Act (S3126C of 2022) in her Executive Budget, and for the Assembly's support. Buildings account for a third of New York's greenhouse gas emissions and 66 percent of likely New York voters support a statewide proposal to end fossil fuels in new construction. 55 percent are "very concerned" about the cost of their home energy bills. These proposals will help New York meet the Climate Act's requirement of reducing emissions by 40 percent by 2030 while also saving New Yorkers money.
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"The Governor's State of the State demonstrates she's serious about getting homes off gas, saving New Yorkers money, and fighting climate change. Now, we need her to put her money where her mouth is and include her priorities in the proposed Executive Budget. Everyday New Yorkers are choosing between eating and heating while the fossil fuel industry records huge profits charging us outrageous prices. The affordable, clean energy future we deserve is possible if the Governor acts now," said Lisa Marshall, Advocacy and Organizing Director of New Yorkers for Clean Power, a member group of Renewable Heat Now.
A statewide analysis by Win Climate shows that, under the All-Electric New Building Act, families in both the warmest and the coldest parts of the state would see savings. Families living in new homes with cold-climate air source heat pumps would save an average over $900 a year. Those living in new homes with ground source heat pumps would save over $1,100. In rural parts of the state with no natural gas distribution network where homes instead burn propane, new homes equipped with heat pumps could save over $3,670. Statewide, heat pumps in new construction could save households on average $13,975 over 15 years. Tax credits and rebates through programs such as NYS Clean Heat Rebates and the NYS $5,000 geothermal tax credit make heat pumps affordable, and the newly expanded EmPower Plus, combined with other incentives can cover up to 100 percent of heat pump installation costs for low and moderate income families.
Last year, the All-Electric Buildings Act enjoyed support from Governor Hochul, Senate leadership and environmental groups, but a campaign financed by the fossil fuel industry that spread disinformation and lies derailed the bill. Now, advocates are demanding the Governor stand up to the industry and make 2023 the year electric buildings are prioritized in the budget.
"New York's commitment to reducing greenhouse gas emissions, as enacted in the CLCPA, requires a way forward without fossil fuel dependence that is equitable for residents and small business owners. We are on the cusp of a new day in terms of environmental protections, justice for communities affected by pollution and the creation of green jobs that will boost our economy. The work of the State Legislature, the Governor-and our tireless environmental advocates-toward a cleaner, sustainable future is ongoing and deserves statewide support," said Senator Pete Harckham, Senate EnCon Chair.
"Every new home that's added to the fossil gas system makes New York poorer, unhealthier and pushes us farther away from meeting our urgent climate goals. Thankfully, Governor Hochul's State of the State Address has set the table for including the All-Electric Buildings Act in the upcoming budget. The legislature is ready, the science is clear and New Yorkers are suffering. The time to act is now," said Assemblymember Emily Gallagher.
"New Yorkers deserve clean air, affordable energy bills, and a future free from the disastrous impacts of the climate emergency, and that means we must start now to transition our building stock away from poisonous fossil gasses, toward clean, reliable electricity. The first step is to stop digging -- stop building homes that are locked-in to expensive, climate-destroying fossil gas, and change our statutes and regulations that force ratepayers to subsidize the expansion of the gas system. This is the year we must take bold action to address the climate emergency," said Senator Liz Kreuger.
"New York cannot meet its goals of clean energy and environmental justice without committing to an urgent timeline for new buildings to be all-electric. We must unleash a new era of renewable energy by getting the public sector involved, and we must protect New Yorkers not just from climate change, but also from an affordability crisis that stems from gas being a volatile source of energy. In December, the wholesale price for gas was 47% higher than the year before, and this year the average household is expected to spend 28% more on heating their homes with gas. Ordinary New Yorkers will absolutely be left behind if we don't take the steps now to get off fossil fuels," said Assemblymember Sarahana Shrestha.
"In New York City alone, over 71 percent of emissions are from buildings. Ending our buildings' reliance on fossil fuels is healthier for our city, state, and planet, and in the wake of rising fuel costs, it's more affordable for New Yorkers. Let's kick fossil fuels out of buildings!" said Assemblymember Harvey Epstein.
"I used to live in a house built in 1920 that had a little door for deliveries of coal. But having individual coal-fired power plants in all our homes was dirty and unhealthy and inefficient, and we moved on from that technology. It is time to move on once again and stop designing buildings with individual fossil-fuel power plants altogether. All-electric buildings tap into far more efficient means of generating energy, they spare our families from exposure to carbon monoxide and other hazards, and they will help us reach our goals for reducing carbon emissions. I'm hopeful that Governor Hochul will include these critical bills in this year's budget to move our state closer to a sustainable future," said Senator Rachel May.
"Black, Latino, and low-income families disproportionately bear the effects of air pollution and it is long past time for the New York legislature and Governor to take action to begin to address this. My constituents deserve to breathe clean air in their homes. They deserve to reap the benefits of a green affordable future. The people of New York State deserve it. The All-Electric New Building Act, the NY HEAT Act, and the Energy Efficiency, Equity, and Jobs Act will get us there. We cannot delay any longer. Now is the time to deliver," said Assemblymember Phara Souffrant Forrest.
"I am proud to join all the climate advocates who traveled up to Albany, to rally as we prepare to kick fossil fuels out of buildings once and for all in the state of New York! To naysayers, this may seem like an impossible feat, but we are closer now more than ever to seeing a greener, more sustainable future for our children, and our children's children for generations to come.
We can accomplish this by getting these three critical bills passed in both the Senate and Assembly this year; the All-Electric Building Act, the NY HEAT Act, and the Energy Efficiency, Equity and Jobs Act. New York State already made history by passing the CLPCA, one of the most ambitious climate laws in the nation. Now, in 2023, we need to meet that ambition with action, and that is why I'm proud to join everyone here today in announcing my pledge to co-sponsor these three bills in the Assembly, and to do all that it takes to get these three bills passed," said Assemblymember Juan Ardila.
"I joined advocates from across New York who gathered at the Capitol to call for action on climate change and to support the All-Electric Building Act and the NY HEAT Act. While the fossil fuel industry rakes in record profits, New Yorkers struggle to pay their bills and suffer from the daily impacts of climate change. We cannot wait any longer for a just transition to clean energy that benefits all communities and creates jobs," said Senator Luis Sepúlveda.
"The easiest and most important action we can take to meet our climate change goals is to move to all-electric in new building construction. Buildings are the biggest contributor to greenhouse gas emissions. Our first step should be to remove fossil fuels from new construction as we look forward to additional funding for families seeking assistance towards weatherization, energy efficiency and transition to making existing buildings cleaner," said Assemblymember Steven Otis.
"The majority of New Yorkers recognize that burning fossil fuels like natural gas is contributing to climate change, and our buildings account for one-third of New York's greenhouse gas emissions. New Yorkers are also concerned about the cost of their energy bills. Changing the way we build buildings moving forward is a win-win – it saves money for New Yorkers and it is better for the environment. The governor laid out her vision in the State of the State address, and now the legislature is ready to act to bring this vision into reality. We are ready to meet the climate goals set forth in the Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act, without passing on the cost to everyday New Yorkers," said Assemblymember Anna Kelles.
"New York State is acting without the urgency necessary to treat climate change as the existential crisis that it is. I am committed to supporting solutions that move the needle on climate change, bring disadvantaged community voices to the table and hold our agencies and authorities accountable to the commitments we made through the Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act," said Senator Samra Brouk.
"We are hurtling towards a climate catastrophe. Unless we reduce carbon emissions by 45% by 2030, we will ensure the irreversible and disastrous effects of climate change. The All-Electric Building Act being reintroduced today helps address the climate crisis since buildings account for 28% of energy use and greenhouse gas emissions in the U.S. I'm proud to be a co-sponsor of this important legislation along with Senator Kavanagh and Assemblymember Gallagher and look forward to passing it in Albany," said Senator Brad Holyman-Sigal.
"Fossil fuels are the leading cause of global warming. That is why we need to move towards more clean and renewable systems and ensure that NY passes the All Electric Buildings Act , NY Heats Act, and the Energy, Efficiency, Equity, and Jobs Act in this year's budget," said Assemblymember Rebecca Seawright.
"Meeting our climate goals will require aggressive action that must start this year," said Assemblymember Tony Simone. "These three bills will reduce home energy costs for tenants and homeowners costs, create new jobs in the green economy and improve air quality for all."
"Air pollution is the culprit of many respiratory diseases which disproportionately affects communities of color," said Deputy Assembly Speaker Phil Ramos. "The passage of the All-Electric Building Act will create a safer and healthier environment for our families and help protect our planet for generations to come."
"The All-Electric Building act will not only cut greenhouse gas emissions but will also save New York families money on their heating bills. This is commonsense legislation that not only supports the goals of the Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act but also helps our families keep their costs down. It's a win-win and I hope we can get this over the finish line," said Assemblymember Chris Burdick.
"New York architects are already designing countless gas free buildings throughout our city and state, ranging from residential towers to NYCHA campus retrofits, to single-family homes," said Matthew Bremer, President of the American Insititute of Architects New York. "All-electric buildings are the crucial next step toward long-term decarbonization. Electric power is more affordable, safer, and more reliable than fossil fuels.
"It's outrageous that utility customers are being forced to spend more and more of their hard earned money every year on their energy bills to expand and support the gas system when that money is needed to fund the solutions. Meanwhile, we're still building 50,000 homes per year with fossil fuels, going backwards from our climate goals. This year, the Governor and the Legislature must pass the laws necessary to stop making our climate problems worse and start funding the heat pumps and thermal energy networks we need to protect our health, our pocketbooks, and our planet," said Jessica Azulay, Executive Director of Alliance for a Green Economy (AGREE).
"New York tax payers and utility ratepayers have been subsidizing the fracked gas industry for far too long. Fossil fuels destroy our climate, health, and safety, and lock our labor force into dangerous jobs that benefit millionaire executives and shareholders," said Kim Fraczek, Director of Sane Energy Project. "New York State made a commitment to lead this nation on climate justice. Our legislative package is a critical and necessary step in moving towards a just, safe, and equitable energy system."
"Passing the Energy Efficiency, Equity, & Jobs Act will help nearly half of the State's 20 million residents rid their homes of environmental hazards such as lead, mold, and asbestos. It will help people avoid having to make monthly decisions between paying their energy bill and purchasing things like food and medicine. It will create jobs in communities where they are most needed, strengthening our economy, addressing systemic social injustices, and adapting vulnerable communities to a changing climate. And it will also dramatically reduce unnecessary energy consumption, which is absolutely essential for meeting the CLCPA's mandate of a 40% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by 2030," said Briana Carbajal, State Legislative Manager, WE ACT for Environmental Justice.
"By passing the NY HEAT Act, legislators will enable affordable neighborhood-scale electrification, and an end to ratepayers subsidizing gas system expansion to the tune of $200 million per year, " said Betta Broad, Director of Advocacy & Organizing, Association for Energy Affordability and Campaign Director, New Yorkers for Clean Power. "It is a necessary and commonsense step to implementing NY's Climate Act and helping New Yorkers transition to clean, efficient heat pumps."
"Burning fossil fuels in our buildings is killing us and our climate. The mounting scientific evidence is as clear as New Yorkers' demands: New York's budget must include a ban on fossil fuels in new construction," said Food & Water Watch Northeast Region Director Alex Beauchamp. "One third of our pollution and one fifth of childhood asthma cases come from burning fossil fuels in New York's buildings - enshrining the All-Electric Building Act into law will stop digging a deeper hole. This straightforward, commonsense and politically popular legislation will vault New York to the top of the climate leaderboards, giving us the strongest laws in the country to move off fossil fuels in our building sector. Hochul, Stewart-Cousins and Heastie: listen to New Yorkers, pass the All-Electric Building Act in your budget."
"I'm here today because nearly my entire family has asthma, we worry about the impact of rising sea levels and sewers that overflow in storms, and we're paying through the roof on utility bills. I want all-electric buildings because they are cleaner, safer, and can save my family money. We're calling on the Governor and Legislature to get all-electric new buildings done in the budget, and implemented in 2024," said Damien Andrade, NYPIRG member and CUNY Brooklyn College student.
"I want this agenda to pass because my bills are too damn high. It also makes the air cleaner, creates jobs we need, and helps to stop climate change," said Elaine Blair, a member of New York Communities for Change and a homeowner in Saint Albans, Queens. "Our representatives should listen to us, not this craziness from Ted Cruz and Matt Gaetz. They're just paid off by the oil and gas companies who charge us so much money to heat our homes. I'm glad the Governor and State Senate is on board and I'm looking to our Assembly, too."
"Total household electrification is our future, not only to meet our greenhouse gas emissions reduction goals, but to achieve a standard of living that is healthier, more cost effective and efficient. Renewable energy driven technology will soon heat and cool all our homes, dry our clothes, cook our food, charge our vehicles and power our lives," said Roger Downs, Conservation Director, Sierra Club Atlantic Chapter. "But we cannot make this transition if the State of New York continues to facilitate and subsidize new fracked gas hook ups where we should be showcasing innovation and modernity. Sierra Club Strongly supports the Renewable Heat Now bill package that will mandate all-electric new buildings starting in 2024, end gas industry giveaways by nixing the 100' rule, and center equity in funding much-needed home efficiency upgrades and workforce training. In keeping with the Climate Action Council's recommendations, this is the year to get it done!"
"The fossil-fuel industry is using our atmosphere as a free open sewer, their lobbyists and deception campaigns paid for by our sky-high bills are bamboozling New Yorkers and our legislators alike, their piped poison is sickening us, and burning cash to burn their products is stealing our children's future. Is there any reason why a state with the first grandmother elected as Governor, the first mother to lead its Senate, and a father leading its Assembly cannot kick fossil fuels out of its politics and buildings when the alternatives are more affordable, more reliable, and simply superior?" said Anshul Gupta of the Climate Reality Project.
"It's no wonder that 66% of New Yorkers support a mandate for all-electric new construction when it'll fight the climate crisis, protect public health, and keep money in their pocketbooks," said Liz Moran, New York Policy Advocate for Earthjustice. "With buildings accounting for one-third of New York's climate pollution, lives already being lost to the climate crisis, and ever-increasing prices of gas, this suite of legislation to get fossil fuels out of buildings is needed now. Earthjustice is proud to join hundreds of New Yorkers to call on the Governor and the Legislature to kick fossil fuels out of buildings in this year's budget."
The All-Electric Building Act will ban gas hookups in new buildings across New York State, requiring them to be all-electric with appliances like energy efficient heat pumps for heating, cooling, and hot water, and modern induction cooktops. Last year, New York City passed its own version of the All-Electric Building Act, banning fossil fuel heating systems in new buildings and gut renovations across the city starting in 2024.
The NY HEAT Act (formerly the Gas Transition and Affordable Energy Act) ensures that New York State will be able to meet the crucial climate justice and greenhouse gas emission reduction mandates set forth in the Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act for buildings without sticking everyday New Yorkers with the bill for misguided expansion of the gas system. It will allow gas utilities to invest in safer, cheaper, neighborhood-scale non-pipe alternatives to new gas infrastructure to protect New Yorkers from spiraling infrastructure costs and enable zero emissions alternatives to the gas system. It also puts a price cap of 6% of income on electricity bills for low and middle-income families to ensure electricity stays affordable.
Crucially, the NY Home Energy Affordable Transition Act will do away with the unfair 100 foot rule, which sticks everyday New Yorkers with the bill for gas hookups in new buildings totalling $1 billion in added costs to utility bills for New Yorkers over just five years.
It will also allow utilities to redirect the $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.
The Energy Efficiency, Equity, and Jobs Act will ensure that New York's transition from gas to electric heating will be equitable, without leaving low income communities of color behind. It will 1) set equitable energy efficiency targets for utilities operating in New York State; 2) ensure that the resources utilities allocate to reach those standards are defined and distributed in a just and equitable manner that addresses the needs of low-income New Yorkers and New Yorkers of color; 3) as part of that just and equitable distribution, require utilities to use some of those resources for equitable job training programs in these communities, so that the people doing the energy efficiency improvements in low-income communities and communities of color are residents of those communities; and 4) require NYSERDA to track the distribution of these resources, including the investments that indirectly improve energy efficiency in these communities, so that the energy efficiency targets and resource allocations can be measured, monitored, and adjusted accordingly.
200+ groups across New York State have taken action to urge Governor Hochul to include the All-Electric Building Act, the NY HEAT Act, and other key energy affordability provisions in her executive budget.
Getting off gas and going all electric over the next 30 years is a massive, net-positive jobs creator, creating more than 200,000 new jobs (more than doubling current employment) in the buildings sector. Still, policymakers can and should make intentional plans to protect the long-term livelihood of today's gas workers. Highly skilled and trained plumbers, pipefitters, and steamfitters perform jobs that are vital to the clean energy economy and pay family-sustaining wages. NY State has passed legislation backing utility thermal networks for district heating and cooling with dramatic energy savings.
The fossil fuel industry is investing heavily in efforts against necessary legislation like this. The New York Times reported today about the Propane Education Research Council sponsoring HGTV star Matt Blashaw. Blashaw calls propane - which contributes to climate change and is an incredibly expensive source of heat - "an energy source for everyone."
In New York, the fossil fuel 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."