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Environmentalists push to pass NY HEAT Act

ALBANY, N.Y. (NEWS10)—Advocates are pushing to get environmental legislation over the finish line before lawmakers go back to their districts.

One of the bills they’re hoping to get passed is the NY HEAT Act.

“The NY HEAT Act would make it not mandatory for utilities to connect buildings to gas lines,” said Judith Enck, President of Beyond Plastics. “Buildings can run on geothermal, on solar, on heat pumps. There’s a range of non-fossil fuel heating and cooling options for New Yorkers.”

The bill would also protect residential customers from energy costs greater than 6% of their household income.

Ken Pokalsky, Vice President of Government Affairs for the Business Council of New York State, said while there are parts of the bill he thinks could easily be agreed upon, one aspect to speed up the transition of natural gas to electric could be more difficult.

“Telling the public service commission that they should start now thinking about how to start decommissioning parts of the natural gas distribution system which a lot of businesses and residents still rely on, we think, is way too premature,” said Pokalsky.

Patrick Stella, a spokesperson for National Grid, wants to make sure customers won’t be negatively impacted.

“It’s not that we’re opposed to things that are in the NY HEAT Act per se, but we also want that work to be done—- the idea of trying to mitigate gas consumption and gas use, we want it to be done in such a way that doesn’t impact our customers in an adverse way,” said Stella.

The bill has already passed the Senate. In the Assembly, it’s still in the committee process.

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