New Yorkers For Clean Power Are Turning Up for NY HEAT!
Authored By: Molly Levitt, Sustainable Westchester Intern
On Tuesday, May 23rd, proponents of the NY Home Energy Affordable Transition (HEAT) Act came from all over the state to voice their support in Albany. Three of our very own from Sustainable Westchester made the journey to aid in the effort to pass this important bill.
The NY HEAT Act is a landmark piece of legislation which will help shift New York State away from its reliance on oil and natural gas, and provide relief for residents struggling with the rising cost of energy. It ends subsidies for natural gas such as the “100 Foot Rule”, which requires utility companies to hook up customers to natural gas with no cost if they live within 100 feet of an existing gas main. It also retires old gas grids that are no longer necessary and empowers utility companies to replace them with zero-emission options. These measures will save energy customers $200 million per year in their energy bills. This bill supports zero-emissions forms of heating energy such as heat pumps, geothermal energy, and thermal energy networks, that don’t release dangerous pollutants and are safer for our communities. The bill will make sure to support the transition every step of the way so that jobs are not only preserved, but created.
The “HEAT” in NY HEAT stands for Home Energy Affordable Transition. Keeping true to the name, this law will cap home energy bills for low- and moderate-income New Yorkers at 6% of their annual household income, providing much-needed relief for these families. Between the rate cap and the moratorium on unnecessary support for outdated oil and gas systems, New Yokers for Clean Power (NYCP) estimates that the typical New Yorker will save as much as $75 a month on their energy bills.
Right now is a crucial time for this legislation. New York State just recently passed the 2023 budget, in which we saw some big wins for the environment. For instance, the new budget includes the All-Electric Buildings Act, which bans the use of fossil fuels in new buildings built in New York state. However, NY HEAT didn’t make it through to the final budget, which means the future of this bill has not been decided. There are only a few weeks left in this year’s legislative session. Time is running out to impact the upcoming year’s budget and legislative priorities.
Many elected officials from both houses of the state government who have sponsored or co sponsored NY HEAT spoke in front of the crowd. In fact, many of our own representatives from Westchester have supported this bill. Representatives Dana Levenberg, Chris Burdick, Maryjane Shimsky, Amy Paulin, and Steven Otis co sponsored the bill in the State Assembly. Senators Pete Harckham and Shelley Mayer co-sponsored the bill in the NY Senate. Additionally, among the demonstrators were many leaders from community-based organizations such as Mothers Out Front and No NBK Pipeline, an organization in Brooklyn that successfully blocked National Grid from building two new fracked gas vaporizers in environmental justice communities in Brooklyn.
Our Sustainable Westchester interns were part of this great demonstration. Afterwards, they met with elected officials who have cosponsored the bill package we are advocating for to personally thank them and ensure their continued support going forward. In fact, as the interns made their rounds, many of the representatives they tried to meet with were already on the floor, lending their voices to help pass NY HEAT.
NY HEAT is a vital, trailblazing piece of legislation that will put our state on the right path to carbon neutrality, safer communities, and affordability. We once again would like to shout out the other nonprofit organizations supporting NY HEAT and to all the assemblymen and senators co sponsoring the bill. Stay tuned for more updates on NY HEAT!
Three of our high school interns sitting on the Million-Dollar Staircase in the Legislative Office Building just after the rally for NY Heat. After this, they headed out to talk with elected officials. From left to right: Molly Levitt (yours truly!), Talia London, Jada Fleiss.
You may remember this unit of measurement – the mole – from your high school chemistry class. This is what one mole of a gas looks like. Did you know that your gas-powered car releases 200 moles of carbon dioxide and 10 moles of dangerous carbon monoxide into the air for every mile you travel? Thank you to the folks in Albany for this powerful demonstration of the effects of gas-powered vehicles. If you are able to, consider making the switch to electric, and walk and take public transit whenever you can!
The rally on the steps of the Million Dollar Staircase at 12:30. Demonstrators heard from community leaders, co-sponsors of the NY Heat Act from the State Senate and Assembly – who then went straight to the meeting on the floor to voice their support – and Patricia Fahy and Liz Kreuger, the sponsors of the bill in the Assembly and Senate, respectively.