New York Advocates Back ‘All-Electric Buildings Act’

In a press conference Monday, the New York Independent System Operator (NYISO) said it expects wholesale electricity prices to rise sharply this winter, which is in line with estimates from National Grid and other utilities.

People in upstate New York can expect their heating bills to rise 30% or more in the next few months. Heating costs are particularly volatile this year due to disruptions in oil and gas supplies from Eastern Europe.

While many homes are currently built for oil or gas heat, new homes don’t have to be. Climate activists are pushing them not to be to prevent them from being locked into the volatility of the fossil fuel industry.

“(Oil company) profits right now are really, really great, and we think this is an ideal time to move away from fossil fuel profiteers,” said Alex Beauchamp, Northeast regional director for Food & Water Watch. “The best way to do that is to stop building buildings powered by fossil fuels.”

To ease the transition, Beauchamp advocates “All-Electric Building Act” (S6843C/A8431B) sponsored by New York State Assemblywoman Emily Gallagher and Senator Brian Kavanagh. If passed, the law would require new buildings to be powered by electricity rather than fossil fuels – the idea being that the electricity would be generated from renewable sources.

The legislation would only apply to new buildings under seven stories starting in 2024. Larger buildings would fall under the legislation in 2027.

Beauchamp recently wrote about the bill in Albany Times Union.

When pointed out that New York will need to build wind and solar capacity much faster than it has been, Beauchamp said that even with the current grid, new all-electric buildings will be cleaner.

“But yes, of course we need to clean up the grid and we’re fighting all the time to get the Hochul administration to approve more renewable projects and get them online faster,” Beauchamp said.

A new report cited by Beauchamp and published by Win Climate found that New York homeowners could expect to save an average of $904 a year on their heating bills if the Comprehensive Building Act were passed and implemented.

Beauchamp is pushing for the bill to be included in Gov. Kathy Hochul’s executive budget, due in January.

“The state has made huge strides in several areas in reducing emissions, but we’ve done almost nothing on the emissions coming from our buildings. And it’s huge,” Beauchamp said.

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