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New York City lawmakers are set to decide on Wednesday whether to ban most new buildings from using natural gas, a move that would make the nation’s most populous city a showcase for policy climate change campaign that has been both adopted and blocked across the country.


The measure is expected to pass the city council and subsequently receive the signature of Mayor Bill de Blasio. If all of this happens, most construction projects submitted for approval after 2027 are expected to use something other than gas or fuel oil – like electricity – for heating, hot water and cooking. Some smaller buildings are expected to comply as early as 2024, while hospitals, commercial kitchens and some other facilities would be exempt.


Supporters see the proposal as an important and necessary move in a city where heating, cooling and powering buildings accounts for nearly 70% of emissions of carbon dioxide and other heat-trapping gases.


Although the stoves and ovens would use electricity generated in part from natural gas and other fossil fuels, supporters say the change would boost momentum ahead of the state-wide requirement to ” use 70% renewable energy by 2030, compared to around 30% currently.


“We cannot continue to develop gas if we have the slightest prayer of meeting the state’s climate goals,” said Alex Beauchamp of Food & Water Watch, an environmental group.


“This is a huge, huge step forward,” he said, calling the legislation “a real changing deal on the national scene.”


Supporters also say they are fighting air pollution, especially on behalf of communities of color.

Researchers have found that non-whites are exposed to more air pollution than whites across the country.


“We need to take action on climate justice – which is inextricably linked to racial justice,” and gas legislation “provides a concrete and meaningful response,” Council sponsor Alicka Ampry-Samuel tweeted, in September.

The Democrat represents a predominantly black neighborhood in Brooklyn.


A few dozen other cities, including San Francisco and Seattle, have decided to end gas connections for heating, hot water and sometimes cooking in at least some new buildings.


At the same time, states like Arizona, Oklahoma and Texas have banned cities from doing so, saying consumers should be given choice in their energy sources.

In Texas, the effort started before, but gained even more momentum after a February storm caused massive power outages that left many households shivering without power, heat or clean water for decades. days.


In New York, the move towards vehicles, ovens and electrical appliances is expected to “create long-term upward pressure” on electricity use, according to the New York Independent System Operator, which oversees the supply of electricity. state electricity.


The organization said in a recent report that it is still studying how these trends will affect the power system, but it predicts that demand for electricity may start to peak in winter, instead of summer, around 2040.


The state is considering sharp increases in wind and solar power, among other approaches to meet its renewable energy goals and growing demand. Some projects are in progress.


Still, some real estate interests, including a big landlord lobby group called the Real Estate Board of New York, raised concerns at a city council hearing last month over whether the ban on new hookups natural gas would put a strain on the electricity grid.

She already suffers during heatwaves in the city, sometimes leading to major neighborhood blackouts.


Real estate groups have also been pushing to push back gas development times, saying alternative technologies – such as electric heat pumps that transfer heat between indoors and outdoors – need more time. to develop, especially for skyscrapers.


Utilities, meanwhile, said they supported the goal but sounded economic alarm bells.


“We are really concerned that, as expected, these (proposals) will result in higher energy costs for customers,” said Bryan Grimaldi, vice president of National Grid, which provides electricity to parts of the city.

Con Edison, who serves much of it, called for arrangements to help poorer tenants with what he called rising electric heat costs.


Environmental groups say electricity doesn’t necessarily mean more expensive. In fact, they say it’s just the opposite in some new energy efficient buildings. They also note that natural gas prices fluctuate, having risen significantly this year before declining somewhat recently.


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Felix J. Dixon