As anticipated, the New York City Council, yesterday, voted to ban natural gas hookups in new buildings, a big move to reduce carbon emissions in the city. 

The new law will effectively ban all gas stoves, gas furnaces and gas water heaters in new NYC buildings. The law will go into effect for buildings under seven stories tall at the end of 2023 and apply to taller buildings starting in mid-2027.

“NYC just made history by banning gas usage in new buildings! THIS is how you invest in a sustainable future, protect public health, create good paying jobs and END the era of fossil fuels. Thank you to the NYC Council for getting this done. If our city can do it, any city can,” Mayor Bill de Blasio tweeted yesterday in support of the new law. 

When asked for a previous Bushwick Daily article if the plan is realistic and if the city has enough energy supply to sustain it, Ben Furnas, the director of the Mayor’s Office on Climate and Sustainability noted, “We have a very high level of confidence that this type of shift towards electric heating, towards types of deep carbon emission reductions, are possible.”

Currently, buildings account for about 70% of the city’s greenhouse gas emissions. According to the Rocky Mountain Institute, this law has the potential to save about 2.1 million tons of carbon emissions by 2040, equivalent to the annual emissions of 450,000 cars.

New York is not the first U.S. city to move away from natural gas. Similar measures have been taken in many left-leaning cities, including Berkeley, California, Seattle and Sacramento, among others.  

Lawmakers are also seeking to pass similar legislation at the state level. If passed, Senate Bill S6843A, referred to as the “all-electric building act,” would require new buildings to be fully electric starting in 2024. The bill was introduced in May by State Senator Brian Kavanagh, a Democrat representing the 26th Senate District. However, the bill has not been set for a vote yet. 

As explained in a previous article, New York State does not currently produce enough electric supply for its demand, so additional supply is brought in from Canada and other U.S. states. Naturally, a rise in demand will mean New York will have to start increasing its electric supply or more will need to be brought in from elsewhere. 

Naturally, the new law has received some negative feedback, primarily from developers and National Grid, the company currently building a natural gas pipeline through Bushwick and much of North Brooklyn. 

According to the New York Times, those opposing the new law have voiced concerns that the added demand for electricity, particularly during winter months, could lead to blackouts in the city. Opponents suggest that, until New York City stops getting most of its electricity from fossil fuels, gas should remain an option. Currently, the state is seeking to reach 100% clean energy by 2040. 

Not allowing new buildings to install gas stoves, heaters and water boilers is one thing. Limiting emissions in older, established buildings is a different challenge. Currently, that challenge is being tackled by Local Law 97, which will require building owners to meet certain greenhouse gas emissions requirements starting in 2024.

Featured image: John McCarten/NYC Council Media Unit

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