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State’s budget could give all-electric construction a boost

Democratic state lawmakers and Gov. Kathy Hochul are pushing to end the use of fossil fuels, such as natural gas, in new residential and commercial construction. While the specifics of their plans differ, their common goal is being considered as part of negotiations for a $227 billion state budget this month.

DiSanto Propane (Billboard)

Supporters of the measure, including Democratic lawmakers and advocates, aim to help New York reduce climate change impacts, decrease carbon emissions, and advance the state’s goals for cleaner, renewable energy. However, Republicans and some utilities warn of potential disruption and ratepayer consequences.

Despite these concerns, supporters are excited by the potential agreement in the state budget, arguing that cleaner fuel will save New Yorkers money in the long run. Hochul’s all-electric rule is set to take effect in 2026, while Senate Democrats propose a 2025 deadline. The Senate’s plan would include buildings up to seven stories, while Hochul’s would apply to those three stories or less. Both plans would significantly reduce carbon emissions.

Democratic state Sen. Brian Kavanagh believes the faster timeline is achievable, even as New York plans to add 800,000 new housing units over the next decade. He emphasizes that the change would not affect existing homes and businesses but acknowledges future challenges when gas-powered appliances are phased out.

However, a Siena College poll last month found most New York voters oppose phasing out gas appliances in new construction. Republicans, like Senate Minority Leader Robert Ortt and state Sen. Pat Gallivan, argue the move could lead to energy instability and higher costs for home builders, calling for a more diverse approach to energy sources. They also express concerns about the potential impact on utility bills for New Yorkers already grappling with rising energy costs.