Queens Lawmakers, Advocates Announce New Research Showing Queens Families Could Save $158 On Bills w/NY HEAT!

Assembly Members Jessica González-Rojas, Steven Raga joined with students, residents, and advocates to demand Albany leadership put NY HEAT Act in budget to lower energy bills, curb rate hikes, and fight climate change impacting Queens families' everyday lives; Group announced new research and highlighted new calculator tool from Spring Street Climate Fund that any Queens resident can use to calculate energy cost savings with NY HEAT Act

QUEENS, NY (02/21/2024) (readMedia)-- Today, Assemblymembers Jessica González-Rojas and Steven Raga held a press conference with Queens residents and advocates to release new research that shows energy-burdened Queens families, on average, could save $158 on their monthly utility bills if Assembly Speaker Heastie and Senate Majority Leader Stewart Cousins pass the NY HEAT Act (A4592B/S2016B) in this year's budget. As National Grid and Con Edison begin phasing in rate hikes that could cost customers, on average, nearly $50 more each month, NY lawmakers have an opportunity to deliver urgently needed relief by passing the NY HEAT Act. The legislation would curb future rate increases and put a limit on household utility bills to 6% of a family's income, while kickstarting New York's transition off of the fracked gas system that accelerates climate change.

The press conference was held outside of Woodside Houses, where residents are participating in a pilot program that provides them with heat pumps. Heat pumps provide efficient, electric, and affordable heat without the need for dirty fracked gas.

Watch the presser here.

According to the new one-pager from WIN Climate:

  • Nearly 1 in 4 (26%) Queens residents have a high energy burden, meaning they pay more than 6% of their annual income on energy
  • With the NY HEAT Act, the 26% of Queens residents with high energy burdens could see their bills cut nearly in half, saving an average of $158 per month.

The group also highlighted a new calculator tool developed by Spring Street Climate Fund that any New Yorker can use to find out how much they could save on their monthly utility bills with the NY HEAT Act.

"New Yorkers, including my constituents, are suffering from the outrageous cost of living, and with climate change, we are experiencing an increasing level of heat during the warm months. This means families will be using their cooling units more frequently. With the anticipated rise in the cost of energy, residents who are already burdened will be at severe risk of heat-related illnesses and greater economic disparities. The NY Heat Act protects New Yorkers from bill hikes and will increase energy efficiency with upgrades to every household. Our low-income community members should not carry the burden of climate change caused by the fossil fuel industry. It's time for us to pass this bill, protect New Yorkers, and create a safer environment for all," said Assembly Member Jessica González-Rojas.

"In this pivotal moment in the current climate crisis, we're advocating for the NY HEAT Act by amplifying the voices of the people of Queens and New York, and together, demanding transformative policy change. This legislation is our commitment to intersectional environmentalism and economic equity, ensuring energy justice for all by capping costs at a sustainable 6% of household incomes. Together, we must pass this act into law, ushering in a new era of a resilient and sustainable New York State," said Assembly Member Steven Raga.

"Many New Yorkers are experiencing a cost of living crisis exacerbated by rising utility costs. The NY HEAT Act will cap household utility bills for eligible New Yorkers, and help to transition our energy infrastructure to more sustainable, environmentally conscious options instead of continuing to subsidize services that damage the environment," said Senate Deputy Leader Michael Gianaris.

"People's energy bills are out of control, and the NY HEAT Act would help. We launched this calculator to make sure people paying too much for energy can see for themselves how much they would save if the bill passes into law. It's time for the State Assembly to include the NY Heat Act in its one-house budget, to make sure families in New York don't have to choose between eating and heating," said John Raskin, President, Spring Street Climate Fund.

Governor Hochul embraced key parts of the HEAT Act in her Executive Budget proposal. The Senate passed the bill last year, and the bill has 76 co-sponsors in the Assembly. Advocates are calling on Assembly Speaker Heastie to include the full bill in the chamber's one-house budget.

"A critical provision of the NY HEAT Act would ensure that low- to moderate-income households – including many residents of Queens who have been struggling to heat their homes this winter – will not be unduly burdened by energy bills exceeding 6 percent of their household income. This reflects the state's mandate to safeguard low-income communities and communities of color, where many are forced to spend disproportionate amounts of their household income on energy," said Sonal Jessel, Director of Policy at WE ACT for Environmental Justice.

"Forest Hills Green Team strongly supports the NY Heat Act, which removes subsidies driving the expansion of gas systems, and requires the Public Service Commission to adopt rules and develop a statewide plan to decrease reliance on gas. Fossil fuels burned in buildings for heating, hot water and cooking account for about one-third of greenhouse gas emissions in New York State. The climate crisis is accelerating, and 2023 was one of the hottest years on record. New York State needs to step up its transition to renewable energy, and this bill is an important step," said Dan Miner, Co-Chair, Forest Hills Green Team.

"The Presbyterian Church (USA) has been concerned about earth care as a moral issue back to the 1960s. In 1996, the denomination adopted a policy named 'Restoring Creation,' which states that human life and well-being depend upon environmentally sustainable energy use. In 2006, the denomination passed a resolution to aspire to live carbon neutral lives. These commitments continue to this day. As the scripture says, 'The earth is the Lord's, and everything in it, the world, and all who live in it.' (Psalm 24:1) Presbyterians take this to mean we are stewards of the planet, not owners, and that we are charged with its care. This means we are responsible to God and humanity for how we use the earth's resources. As Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. said, 'Budgets are moral documents.' Legislation which reduces energy costs to low-income families in NY and also reduces our reliance on fossil fuels which contribute to global warming is a moral imperative. We join our voices with those in support of legislation which accomplishes these ends," said Rev. Jeffrey Courter, Pastor, First Presbyterian Church of Forest Hills NY.

"We thank Governor Hochul for including key parts of the NY HEAT Act in the Executive Budget. Now the Legislature must do its part, and include the full NY HEAT Act in their one-house budget bills. Let's make the NY HEAT Act a reality this year. New Yorkers need relief from high energy bills, and our state's utility companies need to make greater investments in heat pumps and thermal energy networks. Making the transition of our energy infrastructure away from fossil fuels and towards renewable energy, will cut the greenhouse gas emissions that contribute to pollution and extreme weather," said Anthony Ng, Steering Committee Member, Queens Climate Project.

"New Yorkers simply cannot afford to finance fracked gas expansion. The NY HEAT Act would cap energy bills and end consumer subsidized gas lines - a commonsense solution to the climate and affordability crises we face. A majority of the Assembly endorses the NY HEAT Act, which the Senate passed last year. Speaker Heastie must stand with his constituents and his colleagues and pass the NY HEAT Act in the Assembly One House budget," said Food & Water Watch Senior New York Organizer Laura Shindell.

"Just since last June, when the Assembly didn't pass NY HEAT, Con Ed has already won a $47 rate hike on their gas customers to invest in 240 miles of gas pipes. National Grid is asking for upwards of a $30 increase to their customers' gas bills in their current rate case. It's time for our state legislature to recognize that the gas utilities don't plan to stop making bad investments with customer money. NY HEAT would put an end to them using their customers as an endless piggy bank, and force them to seriously consider alternatives to gas that are better for people, better for our wallets, and better for our planet," said Avni Pravin, Alliance for a Green Economy's Deputy Director.

"We staunchly support the NY HEAT Act as a critical measure to empower the Governor and the Public Service Commission in regulating monopolistic utilities. Unless we end the toxic practice of fracked gas infrastructure; public health and the climate will continue to be harmed. The imperative for immediate action cannot be overstated," said Kim Fraczek, Sane Energy Project.


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 across New York State, exacerbated by double-digit rate hikes not just from National Grid and Con Edison, but also from Central Hudson, RG&E, NYSEG, National Fuel Gas, and O&R, only exacerbate the cost of living problem.

The NY HEAT Act will stop the expansion of the dirty, outdated, fracked gas system to protect the climate. 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 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.

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