Industrial Consumers

New York votes to ban natural gas for heating in new buildings

New York

The New York City Council voted this Wednesday to ban natural gas as a source of energy for heating in new buildings, following a trend of dozen other cities looking to shift away from fossil fuels and meet sustainability goals.

Firstly, the bill will not affect older buildings. The law will only apply to new buildings under seven stories by 2023; and those over seven stories until 2027. There will also be exceptions for buildings used for certain activities, including manufacturing, hospitals, commercial kitchens, and laundromats.

From that point on, electricity will be the energy source for new buildings in New York; a city with 8.8 million residents. Apart from New York, the biggest city to have banned natural gas in new buildings is San Jose, in California, with about 1 million.

Consequently, the bill aims to have a bigger impact in the long term. The expectation is for carbon emissions to drop in the future; since the state plans to stop using fossil fuels to generate power.

City Council Speaker Corey Johnson said about the matter. “The bill to ban the use of gas in new buildings will (help) us to transition to a greener future and (reach) carbon neutrality by the year 2050.” He also noted. “We are in a climate crisis and must take all necessary steps to fight climate change and protect our city.”

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New York generated much of its GHG this year by burning fossil fuels

On the other hand, a spokesperson for Consolidated Edison Inc., which supplies power and gas in New York City, said. “The establishment of a clear-cut path toward electrification of most new buildings is a sensible and necessary step on the path to carbon neutrality by 2050.”

The spokesperson also noted. “Reducing New York’s reliance on natural gas will gradually increase electricity demand, but our electric grid is more robust than it’s ever been, and we will be ready for a renewable-powered future.”

On the other hand, the move could mean a higher price tag for consumers using electricity for heat than those relying on gas. According to Reuters, this winter, the average household in the U.S. Northeast is expected to pay $1,538 to heat their home with electricity, compared with gas at about $865.

Finally, almost half of the power generated in New York State so far this year came from burning fossil fuels (45% from gas and 4% from oil), with another 24% from nuclear and 22% from hydropower, according to federal energy data.

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