They might be fighting about bail laws and new taxes, but Gov. Kathy Hochul and the leaders of the state Senate and Assembly seem to agree on a measure to take the state to a greener future: banning gas hookups in new buildings across the state starting in as early as 2025.
“Getting all new constructed buildings to be fossil-free is a really big step forward,” Julie Tighe, president of the New York League of Conservation Voters, said.
If included in the state budget, New York’s reliance on gas for heating and cooking will be curtailed in favor of electric appliances.
“It’s a huge deal. The governor and the two houses of the Legislature, they are both signaling that they will end gas in all new construction statewide, which will save New Yorkers money and save lives. It’s a huge huge step forward and we are hoping to drive that deal home,” Pete Sikora, climate campaigns director at New York Communities for Change, said.
Carbon emissions from buildings represent 32% of the state total, so mandating electrification in new construction will move New York closer to reaching its climate law dictating a 40% reduction in emissions by 2030 and an 85% by 2050.
“This is a way for the state of New York to show the entire nation, we’ll be the first state in the country to require all new construction to be zero emissions. So step aside, California, we are coming for you here in New York with buildings,” Tighe said.
New York City has already banned gas hookups in new construction starting this year for small buildings, and by 2027 for larger buildings.
National Grid, one of the energy companies providing gas and electricity to New Yorkers, thinks the Assembly bill is the best option if banning gas in new construction is approved.
That piece of legislation includes exemptions for emergency facilities, restaurants, laundromats and hospitals.
“It looks at things kind of holistically. It looks at things from a reliability standpoint and affordability standpoint as well, so we do understand that the fossil-free goal is the way to go, but we want to make sure that we do it in a responsible way,” Patrick Stella, a spokesperson for National Grid, said.
Other climate-related proposals, like a measure that would put a price on carbon emissions and will use the proceeds to fund renewable energy projects, are proving harder to iron out.