New York will become the first state in the United States to ban gas stoves in new homes and apartments as its legislature passed the proposal as part of its budget and Governor Hochul is expected to approve it. The Democratic-controlled state Legislature passed a bill that prohibits natural-gas and other fossil-fuel hookups in new residential buildings and some new commercial buildings. It also prohibits other gas-powered appliances such as water heaters, furnaces and clothes dryers in new residential buildings, in addition to banning gas stoves in new homes. The measure goes into effect in 2026 for buildings seven stories and under and in 2029 for taller buildings.
Earlier this year, Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer accused Republicans of fueling a frenzy over unfounded rumors that the Biden administration is getting ready to ban popular gas stoves, but it was actually his Democratic-controlled home state that was first to enact such a ban. In fact, N.Y. Republican legislative leaders asked Governor Hochul to drop the gas stove ban from the budget but were rebuffed. Schumer’s accusation was circulated in a press release from his office that declared: “Nobody is taking away your gas stove.” But, in New York, that is exactly what is happening.
Once signed by Hochul, the N.Y. law will ban gas-powered stoves, furnaces and propane heating and effectively force the use of appliances such as heat pumps and induction stoves in most new residential buildings across the state. The legislation does not cover gas-powered appliances in existing homes and commercial spaces yet. New commercial buildings must comply, including office buildings, but some properties were granted exceptions to the ban, including commercial kitchens, hospitals, crematoriums, laboratories, and laundromats.
The ban is unpopular with N.Y. residents, but neither the legislature nor the governor seems to care. A Siena College poll found that 53 percent of all New York respondents said they opposed it. Reliability and affordability are endangered with additional electrification as exemplified by the blizzard in Buffalo in December that caused widespread power outages. The ban removes energy supply choices—other technologies and fuels that could help to avoid blackouts. Natural gas appliances also tend to be less costly to operate, especially with rapidly rising electricity prices that have accompanied more weather-driven and intermittent renewable sources such as wind and solar.
New York is banning natural gas use in new buildings to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions as buildings account for 32 percent of New York State’s emissions, according to a 2022 report. Since these emissions are a global issue, any U.S. reductions will be a drop in the bucket to what China will be releasing as it is currently the largest emitter in the world and as it is building another 100 gigawatts of coal plants, despite having more coal-fired capacity than the entire generating capacity in the United States from all generator types. Coal-fired power is China’s cheapest generating source and it is used heavily in the processing of critical minerals needed for renewable plants, electric vehicles and their batteries, and in weapons production. China burns more coal than the rest of the world combined.
The New York State ban came after the U.S. Department of Energy proposed new efficiency standards that would eliminate at least 50 percent of current gas stoves from the market in favor of electric stoves. The DOE proposed change occurred after Richard Trumka Jr., a member of the Consumer Product Safety Commission, indicated that the commission was considering new regulations and possibly a ban on gas stoves which caused much outrage.
Dozens of municipalities, including New York City, have banned natural-gas hookups for new construction projects. However, more than 20 states have laws that forbid cities from enacting their own bans. Municipalities that have banned natural gas hookups face legal challenges. In April, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit struck down a gas ban in Berkeley, California because federal law pre-empts the local ordinance.
Gas Stove Usage
As of 2020, about 38 percent of the country’s households used natural gas for cooking. However, there is a wide degree of regional variation in its use. In four states — New Jersey, California, Illinois and New York — approximately 60 to 70 percent of homes cook with natural gas. The percentage is below 20 percent in nine other states, mostly located in the South. Nationally, electricity is the largest source of energy for cooking. Of the 123 million U.S. households surveyed, more than half — 65 million — said that electricity was the most-used source of power for their oven and stove. Electricity is also twice as likely to be the most-used range fuel for households making between approximately $5,000 or less annually to as much as $99,000. Gas is more prevalent when residents are earning $150,000 or more; 5.8 million households at that income level used natural gas compared with 5.6 million for electric.
Incentives in the Inflation Reduction Act
A provision in the Inflation Reduction Act, the High-Efficiency Electric Home Rebate Program, offers low-income homeowners up to $840 in rebates for new electric ranges. For moderate-income homeowners, the program also offers rebates of up to 50 percent of the total cost of an electric range. Those above 150 percent of the median household income in an area do not qualify. A Consumer Reports survey of about 2,100 people nation-wide showed the following: three percent had an induction stove, 57 percent reported having other types of electric models, and thirty-seven percent had gas stoves. An induction stove—the most efficient electric range—costs about $1,000, and also requires the use of induction-capable cookware which may mean additional expenses for purchasers.
New York will be the first state to legislate a ban on gas stoves in new buildings with the hope that other states will follow in order to reach Biden’s goal of net zero carbon, despite the fact that most New Yorkers are not in favor of the action. Sixty to 70 percent of N.Y. homes cook with natural gas. While New York Governor Hochul has not proposed a measure to ban the sale of gas stoves for existing buildings, New York’s climate plan backs such a step in the future. That would be very costly for N.Y. families, and limit the diversity of energy supply at the very time when New York’s energy transition is beginning to show serious shortcomings. The state of Virginia found that a total gas appliance ban in the state would cost families as much as $26,000 for retrofits. States that are looking toward a total natural gas ban should realize that the costs are prohibitive and that eliminating choices for residents is a policy mandate most often found in authoritarian governments.