New York bans gas in some new buildings

June 9, 2023 By    

New York has become the first U.S. state to pass legislation that bans the use of fossil fuels in new construction.

(Image: adempercem, WendellandCarolyn: iStock / Getty Images Plus/Getty Images)

(Image: adempercem, WendellandCarolyn: iStock / Getty Images Plus/Getty Images)

The Assembly and Senate voted to approve the measure, included in the state’s $229 billion budget, in early May. The action is part of the state’s effort to reduce carbon emissions under its Climate Act (2019).

The gas ban requires all-electric appliances and utilities in new buildings with fewer than seven stories starting in 2026. Taller buildings will be subject to the requirements by 2029. Existing buildings and appliances will not be affected by the gas ban legislation.

Hospitals, critical infrastructure and commercial food establishments will be exempt from the requirements, as will buildings where the local grid is not capable of handling the load.

The budget also lays the framework for a cap-and-invest program whereby total state greenhouse gas emissions would be capped, and emission allowances would be purchased by covered entities.

Propane industry response

Bill Overbaugh, executive director of the New York Propane Gas Association (NYPGA), says the gas ban in new construction and carbon tax are “setbacks” but points to a two-year delay in the gas ban’s implementation date as a “major win.” He also sees a “potential path forward for our fuel” within the exempted buildings.

NYPGA, Warm Thoughts Communications and allied industries have been engaged in a public outreach campaign, Smarter NY Energy, to challenge measures under the Climate Act as too costly, restrictive and risky in terms of energy security.

“Our ad campaign was designed to educate and agitate regular people into speaking out to their legislators and the governor to say, ‘Wait a minute, not so fast,’” explains Rich Goldberg, president of Warm Thoughts Communications.

In its first four months, the campaign generated 45,000 letters to legislators and the governor from 14,000 individuals.

Cracks in the Democratic Party, weaker-than-predicted election results for the governor and a change of parties in important seats demonstrate the public’s growing concern about forced electrification, says Overbaugh.

“The moderate [Democrats] are waking up to how upset the constituents are going to be about, primarily, the cost, the affordability, the consumer choice issue,” he explains.

Moving forward, says Overbaugh, the fight for the propane industry in New York turns toward defending replacement equipment in existing buildings.

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