Ahead of Hot Summer, Lawmakers Can Save New Yorkers $75/month on Energy Bills
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
May 18, 2023
Media Contact: Claire Wixted, 914-819-3473, firstname.lastname@example.org
ALBANY, NY – The NY Home Energy Affordable Transition Act (NY HEAT) – which would protect low income families from volatile gas prices and end the needless expansion of gas infrastructure – continues to gain momentum in the Assembly with 52 cosponsors as of today. In response, Sonal Jessel, Director of Policy at WE ACT for Environmental Justice, released the following statement:
“Fifty-two lawmakers in the Assembly know that we can save our climate and New Yorkers money by passing NY HEAT now. The budget didn’t do nearly enough for low and middle income families who face the highest energy burden, and a hot summer ahead along with even higher bills. But NY HEAT could save them $75/month: that’s more money for groceries, rent, medicine. It’s time to get it done. Corporations Committee Chairman Zebrowski must bring the bill for a vote now!
“Low- and middle-income households are the most impacted by volatile gas prices and high energy bills, paying three times more of their income on energy bills than non-low income households. Low-income residents of New York City spend a staggering median of 9.3% of their household income on their energy bills. The NY HEAT act would cap energy bills at 6% of household income for these families, saving them up to $75 per month. On top of these savings, the NY HEAT Act gets rid of the unfair 100 foot rule, which forces New Yorkers to pay for subsidized gas hookups for new customers to the tune of $200 million every year. Plus, it could redirect up to $150 billion by enabling neighborhood-scale electrification projects, money that would otherwise be spent replacing old gas pipes with new gas infrastructure that will become obsolete well before it’s paid off by ratepayers. In fact, a new report from the Building Decarbonization Coalition shows that as New York electrifies, families who are left behind on the gas system could see their gas bills rise by thousands of dollars if we don’t pass NY HEAT.
“The final budget included the first-in-the-nation All Electric Building Act, which will require new buildings in New York to use efficient electric heating and appliances starting in 2026. But the work to decarbonize buildings is not complete without NY HEAT. This bill would lay the legal and regulatory foundation for an affordable transition off fossil/methane gas as recommended in the state’s Climate Action Scoping Plan. To reach New York’s climate goals, and dramatically reduce air pollution, the state needs to electrify most buildings by 2050.”
A new report from the Building Decarbonization Coalition finds that every new mile of a gas pipeline costs customers an average of $6 million – that’s $60,000 per customer on that line! But a new memo from Alliance for a Green Economy shows how NY HEAT would redirect money NYS is already spending on costly gas investments toward climate-friendly solutions, while saving money for hardworking New Yorkers.
Last year, NY HEAT (formerly known as the Gas Transition and Affordable Energy 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. The industry 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 recently 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.”
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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.