The City of New York has passed a bill banning new gas connections

Aerial view of One World Trade Center in Lower Manhattan.

Aerial view of One World Trade Center in Lower Manhattan.
Photography: Drew Angerer (Getty Images)

Gas will soon be a thing of the past in New York, thanks account adopted by the City Council on Wednesday. It is a historic law, which puts the weight of the largest city in the country behind the growing movement to ban gas and electrify everything.

Starting in 2023, new buildings in New York will no longer be able to connect to the gas infrastructure. This means that the heating, cooking and hot water systems will be fully electric. The time frame for 2023 is for smaller buildings. The structures on seven floors will have a deadline of 2027 before the ban comes into force, which is a concession that the developers reached during the negotiations on the law. There are various exemptions under the law, including affordable housing, laundry and commercial kitchens.

Despite these delays, the bill will have a real effect on emissions. The ban on natural gas means that electrical alternatives, e.g. heat pumps, would replace gas boilers in city buildings. Developers could also use fuels like hydrogen and biomethane for heating, but only after removing a few barriers. There are induction and other electric stoves on the table, as well as hot water heaters with a heat pump.

An analysis from the nonprofit Rocky Mountain Institute found that the bill could save 2.1 million tonnes of carbon dioxide by 2040 – roughly the equivalent of removing 450,000 cars from the road – as well as saving taxpayers’ money that would otherwise be spent on new connections. gas. More than 70% of the city’s carbon emissions tied to buildings, which means that electrification can pay real dividends and help the city meet its climate goals. In addition, electrification will help clean indoor air quality from polluting gas furnaces.

“This is a historic step forward in our efforts to achieve carbon neutrality by 2050 and reduce our reliance on fossil fuels,” said Ben Furnas, director of climate and sustainability in the mayor’s office. he told the New York Times earlier this week. “If we can do it here, we can do it anywhere.”

New York, the largest city in the country, is now a difficult category several dozen other cities across the U.S. that banned the connection of natural gas. In 2019, Berkeley in California became the first place in the world to do so. The legislators in the New York State House are proposed a special bill which would require new buildings across the country to be free of fossil fuels by 2024, with the additional requirement that buildings can no longer be switched from electricity sources to fossil fuels. In August, California passed new building regulations a big step towards the electrification of all its buildings.

Not surprisingly, the utility and fossil fuel lobby — which it is in a panic as electrification efforts increase across the country – they have shed their weight on the city. Not content with local utility companies such as the National Grid doing all the hard work, the U.S. Petroleum Institute lobbied against the law. And in October, Exxon ran Facebook ads targeted New Yorkers, with announcements stating that households “forced to go full power” could “spend more than $ 25,600 to replace major appliances” – despite the fact that the proposed law would only apply to new buildings and no one with existing appliances would would force to replace. (In an interesting exchange of allegiance, ConEd, a major natural gas supplier in New York, is quietly support the account.)

Despite claims by the fossil fuel lobby that a gas ban would increase utility bills, the city analyzes determined to make electric heating systems in new buildings competitive in price with gas systems, in large part thanks to increased energy efficiency. Several large housing projects in the city are already being built with electrical systems. One external analysis from the Urban Green Council, a nonprofit organization for clean buildings, found that peak electrical loads in New York are much lower in winter than in summer, which means that the network should be able to receive electrified home heating.

While they may not have had success in New York, dirty interests have managed to break into state and city legislatures in other parts of the country to ensure gas remains king. States including Florida, Texas, Louisiana, Tennessee, Arizona and Oklahoma have now banned new natural gas connections in buildings, while at least eight other states have considered similar laws this year. But the New York bill is a bulwark in the electrification race.

Of course, the bill still needs to be signed by Mayor Bill de Blasio to become law – but a representative of his office told the New York Times that he would sign the measure “with enthusiasm”.

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Naveen Kumar

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