New York will become the first state to pass a law banning natural-gas and other fossil-fuel hookups in new buildings on its way to meeting President Biden’s net zero carbon goals and the state’s own targets for greenhouse-gas reduction. The New York State Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act, passed in 2019, calls for a reduction in economy-wide greenhouse-gas emissions of 40 percent by 2030 and 85 percent by 2050 from 1990 levels.
The ban is to be added to the state’s coming budget, due to be completed this week. Democratic Governor Kathy Hochul outlined an all-electric building mandate in her spending plan, and both chambers of the Democratic-controlled State Legislature included similar proposals in their respective budget outlines. One outcome of the proposals and the forthcoming legislation would be an end to natural gas stoves in new homes, along with other gas-powered appliances such as water heaters, furnaces and clothes dryers. Clearly, this will take away energy options from N.Y. residents as well as affordability and reliability as the nation delves into almost complete electrification from intermittent renewable energy (mostly wind and solar power).
In all proposals, the ban will be phased in with the earliest date being January 1, 2025, to as late as December 31, 2028. The Senate and Assembly proposals exempt uses such as commercial kitchens, hospitals, crematoriums, laboratories and laundromats and the governor’s office indicates a possible range of exemptions. Under New York’s proposals for banning fossil-fuel hookups, people who already have gas stoves could keep them. That would also be true under a separate proposal from Governor Hochul to prohibit the sale of any new fossil-fuel heating equipment and related systems for existing homes and buildings starting in 2030. Most greenhouse emissions in U.S. buildings come from heating: 68 percent of emissions stem from space heating, 19 percent comes from water heating, 13 percent from cooking.
This new mandate is unpopular with N.Y. residents. A recent 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 December blizzard in Buffalo that caused widespread power outages. Diversity of energy supply choices, which could help to avoid blackouts, would not be allowed under Governor Hochul’s proposal.
Some U.S. municipalities, including many Democratic-led cities in California, have all-electric building mandates, while lawmakers in some Republican-led states have passed laws blocking cities from imposing such requirements. In Florida, Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis urged lawmakers to approve a tax exemption for gas stoves and declared federal officials are not “taking our gas stoves away from us,” after a federal official said the Consumer Product Safety Commission should consider a ban. Since then, the Department of Energy has attempted another approach to the same end, proposing regulations that would make 50 percent of gas stoves in the United States illegal under “efficiency standards.” And, the reality may be worse because one estimate suggests that 95 percent of the market would not meet the proposed efficiency levels. In late 2021, New York City instituted a ban on fossil fuel combustion equipment including stoves, with exemptions for restaurants and other specific uses, in most new buildings under seven stories starting next year and in 2027 for taller buildings.
New York would be the first state to take this action through legislation; California and Washington state have done so through building codes. Last year, the Washington State Building Code Council required heat pumps as the main heating source in buildings. The changes, which take effect in July, allow gas heat pumps and the use of gas supplemental heating.
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 gas compared with 5.6 million for electric.
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. 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 wants to 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.