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Electrifying new buildings can reduce Long Island's home heating costs, climate activists say

Joe Varon, West Hempstead resident and volunteer with Food & Water Watch
Denise Patel
New York Communities for Change
Joe Varon, West Hempstead resident and volunteer with Food & Water Watch

Long Island climate activists rallied outside of Nassau County government buildings in Mineola on Tuesday to call on Governor Kathy Hochul to include the All-Electric Buildings Act in her next state budget proposal.

It would require new construction under seven stories to operate on electricity instead of fossil fuels, beginning in 2024. The law would apply to all new construction by 2027.

This comes as National Grid predicts heating oil prices for Long Island homeowners will exceed $6 a gallon.

"When you run the numbers, the data is clear: the All-Electric Building Act would save money for Long Island households," Snigdha Sinha, who authored a think-tank analysis, said in a statement.

The study found residents of new homes on Long Island could save over $1,000 annually on home heating costs, under the legislation.

"The reality is building new homes with all-electric heat pumps would save money on average for households across Suffolk and Nassau counties, and the largest savings would be in areas where many homes are still built with expensive propane heating systems, which lock homeowners into high energy costs for decades," Sinha said. "Building all-electric is a win-win for homeowners looking to save money and for everyone who cares about climate change."

Joseph Varon, a West Hempstead resident and volunteer with Food & Water Watch, said the law will not only save families money, but preserve the environment for future generations.

“My three-year-old grandson Noah, and one-year-old granddaughter Sophie, can not fight to halt climate change and global warming," Varon said. "But, the All-Electric Building Act is a giant step in making New York a clean and safe state for them and countless others to grow up.”  

The bill has 80 co-sponsors in the state Senate and Assembly. It has been in committee since May 2021, and has been revised several times since. The governor's Climate Action Council also endorsed the move away from fossil fuels in new buildings, while the bill was in its draft plan.

Opponents, mainly the construction unions and industry groups, say the state should not outright ban the use of natural gas and fossil fuels in construction. They also argue that the measure would also hurt local plumbers and electricians, who would be forced to stop using gas. Proponents say that's why support of clean energy apprenticeship and job training programs is important.

If approved, it would make New York the first state with a plan to end the use of fossil fuels in new construction.

Sabrina is host and producer of WSHU’s daily podcast After All Things. She also produces the climate podcast Higher Ground and other long-form news and music programs at the station. Sabrina spent two years as a WSHU fellow, working as a reporter and assisting with production of The Full Story.