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HEAT Act continues to be sticking point in state budget talks

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  • Staff Report 

Amidst ongoing budget negotiations in New York, advocates and legislators are pushing for the inclusion of the NY HEAT Act, aimed at easing the state’s transition from natural gas and safeguarding consumers against high costs and predatory practices. Assembly Member Pat Fahy, the bill’s sponsor, emphasizes the need for reliable heating and job growth, urging Governor Kathy Hochul and legislative leaders to incorporate the full HEAT Act into the final state budget.

The Act, which has already passed the Senate, proposes measures such as a 6% rate cap for low-to-moderate income New Yorkers and the elimination of the 100-foot rule, challenging the obligation of utility companies to supply gas to customers near existing lines. Fahy argues this change could facilitate a shift towards renewable energy sources, thereby promoting job creation in new energy sectors, contrary to concerns about job losses.

Critics, including Republican State Senator Tom O’Mara, express concerns over the bill’s potential to grant excessive regulatory power to the NYSERDA and the Public Service Commission and question the impact on utility costs for those above the income threshold. The debate underscores broader discussions on energy policy, affordability, and environmental sustainability in New York, influencing the political landscape and upcoming election strategies.