New York is setting the pace nationwide for legislative changes to natural gas connections in newly-constructed buildings throughout the state.
As the first state in the nation to move forward with a ban on natural gas connections, New York now paves the way for widespread adoption of all-electric homes. The initial phase of the ban begins in 2026 and targets new construction of buildings under seven stories. Instead of gas-fired heating systems, builders will be required to choose alternate heating and cooling methods, including electric and geothermal.
Despite detractors’ insistence that the ban would impact their ability to use gas stoves, the legislation has a grandfather clause. Homes and businesses that currently use gas-fired systems will be permitted to keep them and replace them as needed.
Exceptions to the ban include new natural gas connections for critical infrastructure, hospitals, commercial food establishments, manufacturing facilities, and laboratories among others. New connections for natural gas will also be permitted for backup power generators.
Combating Climate Change
The statewide shift away from natural gas is part of New York’s plan to meet its obligations set out in the 2019 Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act. The mandate requires that by 2050, New York must reduce emissions by 85 per cent from 1990 levels. The first phase of the Act calls for a 40% reduction by 2030.
Criticism is broad, ranging from concerns about the reliability of an all-electric infrastructure to eliminating the freedom for New Yorkers to choose how they want to heat their homes. As natural gas is typically cheaper than other energy sources, there are also concerns about increased utility costs for residents already struggling with inflation.
In a statement during the ban’s initial proposal phase, Governor Kathy Hochul‘s office expressed their commitment to reducing emissions.
“[Gov.] Hochul has been clear that we have to take bold steps on climate to protect the health and safety of our children, and 30 percent of state greenhouse gas emissions come from buildings.”
Westchester County Leads in Early Adoption
For more than four years, Westchester County has had a ban on natural gas hookups for new construction. The move came as a solution to increasing demand for natural gas with limited and often unreliable supply. Spearheaded by Con Edison, the moratorium was put in place due to “constraints on interstate pipelines.”
Hochul’s initial plan focuses on new buildings under seven stories. In 2029, the ban extends to businesses larger than 100,000 square feel and buildings taller than seven stories.