EnvironmentThe Northern Westchester Examiner

Levenberg, Environmental Advocates Press for NY HEAT Act Passage

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Assemblywoman Dana Levenberg speaks to a group of advocates urging the state legislature and Gov. Hochul to pass the NY HEAT Act, which would incentivize the transition away from fossil fuels and help to lower energy costs for lower-income people.

Assemblywoman Dana Levenberg (D-Ossining) urged her colleagues in the state legislature last week to support the NY HEAT Act that could potentially reduce energy costs for lower-income households and limit dependence on fossil fuels.

Accompanied by environmental advocates last Thursday in Peekskill, Levenberg called on Gov. Kathy Hochul to include all of the provisions of the Home Energy Affordability Transition Act in the Fiscal Year 2025 budget, including the 6 percent cap on a household gross income on home energy costs.

“What’s missing is really that affordability piece to make sure that people do not have to pay more than 6 percent of their income to their utility,” Levenberg said.

“So this is about establishing an affordable transition to clean energy to get us away from fossil fuels without putting the burden on our ordinary households,” she added.

The measure supports efforts to comply with the state’s Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act, which strives for a net 100 percent reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by 2050.

It would repeal several amendments to the state’s Public Service Law, which has subsidized more gas pipelines, and to force energy companies to connect new homes to an existing gas main for free for those residents within 100 feet of the hookup point. The charges for hookups cost the state’s consumers an estimated $200 million a year.

The NY Heat Act would help to accelerate the transition to electrification, advocates contended.

However, Hochul’s proposed budget failed to include the 6 percent cap for utility charges for lower-income residents. According to research at Columbia University, that provision is critical because 55 percent of New Yorkers spend more than 30 percent of their income on housing costs. Another quarter-million state residents are currently at risk of eviction.

In Westchester County, about 20 percent of residents would benefit from the 6 percent cap. An analysis conducted by Win Climate, a think tank that looks to influence state policy with various climate initiatives, concluded that it could save some households in the county as much as $183 a month in utilities.

With another stiff increase from Con Edison expected by next January, the savings would be critical for many families, said Santosh Nandabalan, Food & Water Watch’s senior New York organizer.

“That’s money that can be put toward housing, toward child care, making sure our lives are better,” Nandabalan said. “We have a way to put money in our pockets and protect the climate. Common-sense measures like this have to go forward.”

New Yorkers for Clean Power Communications & Advocacy Manager Brynn Fuller-Becker, said that outdated laws have been propping up the gas industry and preventing governments from advancing to modern clean energy systems.

“Instead, wealthy corporations force us to fill our homes with fracked gas that poisons the air our children breathe today, and the planet they’ll live on tomorrow – all while charging us higher and higher prices every year,” Fuller-Becker said.

Levenberg said it is critical for the legislature to make the NY HEAT Act a priority. She said most of the Westchester delegation of state representatives, including Sen. Peter Harckham (D-Lewisboro), Assemblyman Chris Burdick (D-Bedford) and Sen. Shelley Mayer (D-Yonkers) are all behind the legislation.

“So let’s act quickly toward twin goals of transitioning away from fossil fuels and towards affordable heating and cooling of our homes,” Levenberg said.








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