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Advocates Urge Faster Electrification of NY Buildings


Monday, October 25, 2021   

ALBANY, N.Y. - Groups in support of renewable energy are pushing for legislation and other initiatives to accelerate complete electrification of buildings in the state, as part of efforts to reduce carbon emissions.

Alliance for Clean Energy New York is among the advocates supporting the building-code bill that would phase in all-electrical appliances and heating. It passed in the state Senate but has yet to reach the Assembly floor.

ACE New York Executive Director Anne Reynolds said if the state is going to meet its climate goals, it has to accelerate its use of electricity in buildings.

"And it really comes down to making building electrification accessible and affordable for New Yorkers over time," said Reynolds. "So that when we get to 2040, and 2050, that becomes the standard that all buildings have."

Reynolds said a way to speed up the change to electric is to offer New Yorkers more incentives to install air-source heat pumps, and enforce possible energy-efficiency efforts into buildings.

The Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act of 2019 establishes that the state must operate at 100% zero-emission energy by 2040.

Reynolds noted there are voluntary energy-efficiency programs in place. Some include special lighting, building retrofits, appliances and new insulation.

But she added that current voluntary programs don't give the movement the momentum it needs to reach climate goals.

"But it's just not at the scale that we would need to get to the finish line," said Reynolds.

Other hurdles are at stake. Reynolds said that since natural gas is still inexpensive, it's tough to convince people to change over to electric heating from a gas furnace.

She noted that will change over time because the cost of air-source heat pumps is dropping.

"The general trend is going to be towards air-source heat pumps for most buildings," said Reynolds. "And it's just going to take a long time and a lot of work to change all those buildings because of course there's over a million buildings in New York State."

Reynolds says her group will explore more topics on the switch to renewable energy at its public fall conference on Thursday. More information is at 'aceny.org'.

Disclosure: Alliance for Clean Energy New York, Inc. contributes to our fund for reporting on Budget Policy & Priorities, Climate Change/Air Quality, Energy Policy, Environment. If you would like to help support news in the public interest, click here.

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