If you live in New York City, your electric bill has gone up a lot in the past year. A lot. Perhaps you can figure out how to do with less light or fewer appliances and tech devices charging all the time. Though that isn’t really easy. Unplugging things that need to stay on isn't going to work.
Luckily, if you are a renter, your heating bill for winter is (generally) included in the rent. That heat is almost universally provided by natural gas, propane, or home heating oil in apartments in the New York City area. Currently, only 13 percent of all New York homes and apartments are heated with either electricity or solar energy. The same thing is true of many appliances -- stoves, for instance, which often use natural gas or propane. That these are "free" -- at least at the point of use -- is an almost universal convention of the rental market in the city. Why? Because they're cheap enough (and rents are expensive enough) for landlords to throw them in as a benefit. But that could all change soon if New York's dyed green legislators have their way.
A controversial state budget proposal that New York governor Kathy Hochul signed into law last January, which requires new single-family homes and smaller buildings to be all electric by 2025 – with larger buildings facing the same requirements three years later – is going to be a particular headache for city-dwellers. Heating buildings with electricity will not come cheap. It is thus highly unlikely that landlords will continue to pick up the tab. Maintenance costs will rises for owners. And the gas stoves that most people prefer will disappear. Even Governor Hochul, it turns out. It was revealed recently that both her private home and the Governor’s mansion are outfitted with gas-burning stoves.
The lady from Buffalo knows best.
This budget requirement comes on top of the New York’s 2019 Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act, (CLCPA) which calls for reducing statewide greenhouse gas emissions 85 percent by the year 2050. As the New York Post reports, “New York residents could face skyrocketing heating bills under the state’s new 'green' policies – which may not even have a significant impact on greenhouse-gas emissions.” That new study of the likely effects of the CLCPA, released by the Empire Center for Public Policy, warns that high costs and practical concerns is likely to cause the plan to force homeowners and landlords to electric heat to backfire:
The costs of heat pump installation and building shell weatherization are high and will place a substantial economic burden on many homeowners, even with state and federal subsidies.... The cost of installing a heat pump and weatherizing a home: $14,600 to $46,200,” says the study.... Even with the extensive state and federal subsidies, the upfront price tag of heat pumps and weatherization will likely push many homeowners to instead buy low-cost but energy-hungry electric furnaces, the report says.
The thing is, these electric furnaces "put considerably greater stress on the state’s grid" than the current gas-and-oil powered ones. So... what's the point of switching?
Of course, it isn't just NYC residents who will be affected. New York, remember, is quite a rural state overall. And, study author James Hanley points out that, if anything, residents of that vast expanse between the city's northern border and Canada will be the hardest hit, being that they are generally less affluent than city-folk, and have such low rates of electric heating themselves.
New Yorkers won't like hearing this, but they'd be better off moving to their blood rival, Boston. That's because Beantown mayor, Michelle Wu, was recently able to wangle her way out of participating in a demonstration project designed to show the world how great electric energy is.
The Monster doesn't lie.
Boston had been expected to be one of ten Massachusetts cities to “ban the installation of fossil fuel lines and related infrastructure in new buildings, moving forward.” Though she said it “breaks her heart” that Boston can't be part of the project, Wu said that her city's needs are “complex,” it has a large population, and more to the point, the electric energy grid is not up to the task. All of this is true of NYC by the way. Maybe it's just that Wu has more respect for her constituents than the governor of N.Y. does.
Unfortunately for New Yorkers, despite studies like the one cited above which clearly lay out the reasons that the state’s policies are likely to be onerous and ecologically counterproductive, state politicians are not going to back down from their green new deal positions. And lucky for Boston residents that their mayor is willing to say "no." Because no one likes high energy bills. Especially when there’s no actual climate benefit.