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EXCLUSIVE: Will the HEAT Act get passed this session? Advocates say it needs to happen

  • / Updated:
  • Edwin Viera 

With less than a month left in the New York Legislature’s session, environmentalists are pushing for the HEAT Act’s passage.

Last-minute stalling from the Assembly kept it from being in the 2025 budget. The bill phases out gas line extension allowances and gives the Public Service Commission authority to align utility companies with the state’s climate laws.

Lisa Marshall, advocacy and organizing director for New Yorkers for Clean Power, said lawmakers have no time to play politics with the state’s climate future “in a time where we’ve had the hottest year on record, record-breaking floods, our train system flooded out, air that children can’t go outside and play and breathe for weeks on end. And, they can’t see it’s necessary to crack down and get to work and start to move the climate plan forward, then that’s on them.”

Finger Lakes Partners (Billboard)

Passing the bill has faced misinformation campaigns from fossil-fuel companies and some skepticism from lawmakers about relying entirely on electricity. They have argued it’s not useful if the power goes out, but infrastructure would prevent many fossil-fuel energy sources from working correctly with the power out, too. Gov. Kathy Hochul has said she’ll sign the bill if the Legislature passes it.

Reports show New York won’t reach its 2030 climate goals because of clean-energy projects falling through and climate legislation failing to pass.

Michael Hernandez, New York policy director for Rewiring America, noted that the Public Service Commission and utilities are required by law to build out gas pipes, keeping New Yorkers stuck on fossil fuels. He said the HEAT Act changes that.

“This is the way forward,” he said. “This provides the pathway where we can start to consider what are the other ways that we can innovate and improve our energy infrastructure.”

The HEAT Act could cut utility bills nearly in half for one in four energy-burdened New Yorkers. Some shortcomings for New York’s climate goals include three offshore wind projects recently being canceled because of “material modifications.”