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Bolstering electrification policies will be crucial step in New York’s pending budget

The New York Legislature will approve Gov. Kathy Hochul’s budget by April 1. Environmental advocates are pushing for the fiscal plan to include policies that move buildings off fossil fuels.

Hochul’s budget includes $250 million for electrifying homes as part of a plan to get two million homes in the state electrified or electric-ready by 2030.

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During a news conference yesterday hosted by the Renewable Heat Now campaign, Lonnie Portis – environmental policy and advocacy coordinator with Harlem-based group WE ACT for Environmental Justice – said it’s about addressing indoor air pollution that can lead to negative health outcomes for communities of color.

“There’s an opportunity to ensure that neighborhoods that are hit first and worst with air pollution and climate change see developments that are all-electric,” said Portis. “And building electric also enables New York to meet its climate targets in a way that ensures everyone has a safe, warm, healthy home.”

New York leads the nation in premature deaths resulting from air pollution caused by burning fossil fuels in buildings for heating, hot water and cooking. The campaign is asking for $1 billion in the budget to fund all-electric or electric-ready affordable housing.

The campaign also supports the Fossil-Free Heating Tax Credit and Sales Tax Exemption, which would incentivize the move to geothermal heat-pump systems.

Oneida County resident Maggie Reilly installed an air-source heat pump in 2020. It’s kept her home warm while reducing her carbon footprint.

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“We must pass the legislation that electrifies New York now,” said Reilly. “The urgency of this action can’t be understated. If anybody wants to learn about these air-source heat pumps, they totally work in cold climate and we have cold climate here in central New York.”

The tax credit and exemption have been introduced in the Senate and Assembly.

The coalition is also calling for the passage of the All Electric Building Act, which requires new buildings to have all-electric space and water heating and appliances. It passed the Senate Housing Committee on Wednesday.