The New York City Council voted on Wednesday to ban the use of natural gas in new buildings in a bid to reduce the city’s carbon footprint.
“The bill to ban the use of gas in new buildings will (help) us to transition to a greener future and (reach) carbon neutrality by the year 2050,” said City Council Speaker Corey Johnson, noting:
“We are in a climate crisis and must take all necessary steps to fight climate change and protect our city.”
Once it does, new buildings after 2027 will be heated by fossil fuel alternatives, most likely electricity, the report notes.
The idea of moving away from gas is not new. In California, the city of Berkeley became the first to enact a ban on new natural gas hookups in new buildings back in 2019. New York was among the cities that have been considering the measure for a while now, along with Denver, Seattle, and San Francisco.
For the proponents of gas bans, the benefits are clear and come down to lower carbon emissions. For the opponents, there are too many disadvantages, from the cost of switching a house from gas to electricity to the effect of more all-electric households on the grid.
“The intermittent nature of renewable sources like solar and wind necessitates another form of energy when the sun isn’t shining, and the wind isn’t blowing,” wrote the chief executive of the American Public Gas Association in an article commenting on the bans for Utility Dive.
State authorities seem to be against the measure in most of these places, but New York appears to be an exception. In New York City, heating, cooling, and electricity supply for buildings account for as much as 70 percent of carbon emissions, and supporters of the gas ban see it as a necessary step to reduce this amount.
Yet opponents don’t see it this way.
“Eliminating the direct use of natural gas in homes and businesses would simply shift the use of natural gas from inside the home to powering an already overburdened electric grid through natural gas-fired power plants—if we’re lucky—and in some cases, coal-powered plants,” Dave Shryver from the American Public Gas Association said back in June this year.
Until now, the most populated U.S. city that has banned gas in new buildings is San Jose in California with about 1 million residents.
However, as Reuters reports, New York’s move to all-electric buildings could mean a higher price tag for consumers using electricity for heat than those relying on gas. This winter, the average household in the U.S. Northeast is expected to pay $1,538 to heat their home with electricity, compared with gas at about $865.