Hochul urged to revisit HEAT Act

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(The Center Square) — Gov. Kathy Hochul is being urged to revisit a climate change proposal that critics argue would drive up consumer costs and deprive them of energy choices.

The New York Home Energy Affordable Transition Act, or HEAT Act, would cap energy bills at 6% of income for low- and middle-income families, saving those households an estimated $75 per month.

Another key provision of the bill would end the so-called 100-foot rule, which requires utilities to install new gas lines for free to hook up customers who live within 100 feet of an existing gas main. Critics say the policy encourages people to use natural gas instead of renewable energy.

Backers of the proposal were disappointed that Hochul didn’t include it in her previous budget proposal but urged her to revisit the issue.

In a letter to Hochul, a group of more than 50 Democratic lawmakers cited the “devastating” impact of this summer’s devastating floods upstate and in New York City following days of record-breaking rainfall and urged her to include the HEAT Act in her next budget proposal.

“It’s not just a save for the planet, but for New Yorkers pocketbooks,” the lawmakers wrote.

Environmental groups have also urged Hochul to support the HEAT Act to help the state meet its benchmarks to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

But critics say the changes would force homeowners to pay for costly electric conversion and drive up costs for energy companies and regional utilities, which will ultimately be passed along to consumers in the form of higher bills.

“Albany Dems continue to double down on unrealistic energy mandates that will drive up energy costs and take away reliable energy sources for all New Yorkers,” Senate Minority Leader Rob Ortt posted on X. “The New York Heat Act is a radical proposal that would effectively ban the use of natural gas in homes & businesses.”

The bill would give the New York Public Service Commission the authority to stop the use of natural gas for any customer or service area. The legislation would also prohibit the expansion of natural gas infrastructure into new service areas beginning Dec. 21, 2025.

In a recent op-ed, David P. Bauer, president and CEO of National Fuel Gas Co., said the proposed changes would “prohibit the modernization” of the state’s natural gas system by requiring older sections of pipeline to be permanently removed from service as they reach the end of their useful life.

That would effectively ban natural gas service for entire neighborhoods, he said.

He said the proposal to cap utility bills — while a “laudable concept in principle” — is scant on details as to who would pay for the costs beyond the billing limits.

“But it’s obvious that the cost of this subsidy would be paid for by New Yorkers, either in the form of higher utility costs or higher state income taxes,” he wrote. “Rising costs would directly impact consumers, with an inflationary impact on goods and services as businesses pass their increased costs on to customers.”

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