ICYMI: Propane Industry Spends Millions Across the Country to Fight Safer, More Affordable Home Energy
Spending 900K in NYS to Fight Electrification
ALBANY, NY (01/12/2023) (readMedia)-- Yesterday, the New York Times reported that the Propane Education and Research Council (PERC) spent $900,000 in New York to fight policies that would facilitate the state's energy transition away from fossil fuels and toward clean energy sources like electric cold climate heat pumps. As a federally-funded trade association, PERC is allowed to collect fees on propane sales. The money is meant to fund safety and research initiatives, but lax government oversight has enabled PERC to funnel millions into false and misleading marketing and communications to advance their political goals. Their strategy involves hiring influencers like HGTV star Matt Blashaw to tout propane as "an energy source for everyone."
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"The fossil fuel industry is relentless when it comes to spending big to tell New Yorkers they can't have affordable, safe energy heating their homes. Their only concern is their bottom line and they take advantage of ambiguous laws to fight policies aimed at phasing out energy sources that cause climate change. PERC wants us to believe propane is an 'energy source for everyone,' but the facts say otherwise. Not only is propane an incredibly expensive source of heat – in New York, all-electric new buildings could see savings of over $3,000 per year compared to their propane fueled counterparts – but burning it in our homes is highly polluting and contributes to respiratory conditions like asthma," said Brynn Fuller-Becker, communications coordinator with New Yorkers for Clean Power and member of the Better Buildings NY Coalition.
A new study shows that nearly 19% of childhood asthma in New York can be attributed to gas stove use - the third worst in the country. Previous studies have shown that gas stoves release pollutants directly inside homes and have been shown to increase asthma symptoms in children by 42%. New York leads the nation in premature deaths caused by the nitrous dioxide and particulate matter that comes from burning fossil fuels in buildings for heating, cooking, and hot water.
Buildings that rely on fossil fuels not only account for a third of New York's emissions but also cost New Yorkers more. A statewide analysis by Win Climate shows that, under the All-Electric New Buildings 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 available under the Inflation Reduction Act can cover up to 100 percent of heat pump installation costs for low and moderate income families.
200+ groups across New York State have taken action to urge Governor Hochul to include the All-Electric Building Act and NY HEAT (formerly Gas Transition and Affordable Energy Act) and key energy affordability provisions in her executive budget.
The All-Electric Building Act will ban gas hookups in new buildings across New York State. Buildings will be required to be all-electric with appliances like energy efficient heat pumps for heating, cooling, and hot water, and modern induction cooktops. In 2021, 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 Gas Transition and Affordable Energy Act) ends utility subsidies for new gas hookups (the "100 foot rule"), enables neighborhood scale building decarbonization by eliminating the "obligation to serve" gas, and addresses operating costs and protects low- and moderate-income families by ensuring no household pays more than 6% of their income for energy. It resolves contradictions between the Public Service Law and the Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act (CLCPA) and will enable meeting climate and clean air targets while avoiding more than $100 billion in costs to gas customers to replace aging, obsolete gas infrastructure and instead invest in cleaner, safer buildings through electrification pathways, including utility provision of networked geothermal energy systems.
As the law stands, the 100-foot rule requires gas utilities to hook-up new buildings that are within 100 feet of a gas main for free, eliminating this rule will save gas customers $1 billion in added costs over just five years.
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.
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."
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 all-electric homes and buildings.