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Long Island Republicans are pushing new energy plan to combat rising costs

Senate Minority Leader Robert Ortt, R-Lockport.
Hans Pennink
Senate Minority Leader Robert Ortt, R-Lockport.

With rising natural gas prices on the horizon, New York State Senate Minority Leader Rob Ortt, R-Lockport, unveiled a new plan to combat increasing energy costs on Long Island.

The GOP plan includes tax credit for homeowners, and repealing hidden energy taxes. At this time last year, the average home heating oil price per gallon on Long Island was $3.45. The island’s current average is $4.76, compared to the statewide average of $4.75.

According to the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority, the island’s heating oil prices reached $6 per gallon over the summer, a recent all-time high. Nearly half of Suffolk County residents use oil to heat their homes, according to state data.

“Following a summer of record high gas prices, families and businesses are facing even higher bills for heat and electricity this winter — and for winters to come — due to extreme energy policies being imposed by one party rule in Albany,” Ortt said.

He signals that home heating costs have emerged as a campaign issue that some Republican candidates feel could help them take back the state Legislature in the November midterm elections.

The proposal also includes a required cost-benefit analysis for state climate plans, which mandates new buildings, vehicles and other infrastructure to find ways to reduce reliance on fossil fuels.

Ortt was joined on Tuesday by Republican incumbents and candidates for state Senate.

“At a time when Long Island families are paying more for just about everything, thanks to record inflation, Albany’s mandates and hidden taxes are making the problem even worse,” said State Senator Alexis Weik, R-Islip, who is running for reelection.

While “hidden taxes,” like taxes on a company’s gross receipts, provide a stable source of revenue for the state government, they are frequently blamed for New York’s high energy costs, and often do not appear on residential power bills.

Nevertheless, state Senator Phil Boyle, R-Bay Shore, who is not running for reelection, blamed Democrats for not focusing on these issues.

“The Long Island Democrats in the Senate need to remember who they represent. You’re listening to your colleagues in the city. They don’t have a lot of homes in there," he said. "We do. We pay high energy costs, that's why we need to pass this plan.”

Ortt claimed that new climate proposals from Democrats would not only increase energy costs but also living expenses on Long Island, making it too costly for people to live in New York. That includes new measures approved by Governor Kathy Hochul and other Democrats that would outlaw the sale of new gas-powered vehicles by 2035 — which Ortt suggests would further drive up energy costs.

“New Yorkers deserve a right to know who’s going to pay and how much it’s going to cost,” Ortt said. “Many of my colleagues across the aisle, they are actually pushing forward policies that are going to only exacerbate this issue and make it even less affordable for New Yorkers.”

Emily is a former news intern at WSHU.