New York advocates push 'All-Electric Building Act' as a response to the high costs of heating oil

December 07, 2022

Originally published in Spectrum News1 on November 28, 2022.

During a media briefing on Monday, the New York Independent System Operator (NYISO) stated that it expects wholesale electricity prices to sharply rise this winter, which is in line with estimates from National Grid and other utilities.

Upstate New Yorkers can expect heating bills to rise 30% or more over the next few months. Heating costs are especially volatile this year due to disruptions in the supply of oil and gas from Eastern Europe.

While many homes are currently built for oil or gas heat, new homes don’t have to be. Climate activists are pushing them not to be in order to prevent them from being locked into the fossil fuel industry’s volatility. 

“(Oil company) profits right now are really, really extraordinary, and we think this is the ideal time to move away from the fossil fuel profiteers,” said Alex Beauchamp, Northeast region director for Food & Water Watch. “The best way to do that is to stop building buildings powered by fossil fuels.”

To facilitate the transition, Beauchamp is advocating for the “All-Electric Building Act” (S6843C/A8431B) sponsored by New York state Assemblymember Emily Gallagher and Sen. Brian Kavanagh. If passed, the law would require new buildings to be powered by electricity rather than fossil fuels – the idea being that electricity would be generated by renewables.

The legislation would only apply to new buildings under seven stories high, beginning in 2024. Larger buildings would fall under the legislation in 2027.