New York, Connecticut Bear Down on Fossil Fuels for Heating

“I’m proposing an ambitious series of policies to insulate our most vulnerable households from exorbitant energy bills, and to clear the path forward for a more sustainable future,” New York Gov. Kathy Hochul said in her State of the State Address.

“We’re calling it ‘The EmPower Plus’ program, and it will help low-income families retrofit their homes by adding insulation, upgrading appliances, and switching from fossil fuels to clean electric heating systems.

“This program will reach tens of thousands of households within a year. Homes that electrify will be eligible for a first-in-the-nation Energy Affordability Guarantee, a promise that they will never spend more than 6 percent of their income on electricity.

“And we also want to ease the burden on our residents struggling with high electric bills. So we’ll be providing at least $165 million in relief to more than 800,000 utility customers. We know that the key to long-term sustainability — for our wallets and our planet — is weaning ourselves from fossil fuels.

“To set us on that path, I’m proposing a plan to end the sale of any new fossil-fuel-powered heating equipment by 2030. And I’m calling for all new construction to be zero-emission, starting in 2025 for small buildings and 2028 for large buildings.”

Hochul noted that, in 2019, the state legislature instituted aggressive mandates and deadlines for reducing emissions.

“We’re pursuing a nation-leading Cap-and-Invest program to cap greenhouse emissions, invest in the clean energy economy, and prioritize the health and economic well-being of our families,” the governor said in her address on Jan. 10. “Big emitters will have to purchase permits to sell polluting fuels. The dirtier the fuel—the bigger the price tag. And the ‘invest’ part of the program will accelerate the clean energy transition and include a universal Climate Action rebate that will provide $1 billion in revenues that we’ll allocate to help cover utility bills, transportation costs, and de-carbonization efforts.

“And what’s great about Cap-and-Invest is that it offers us flexibility, so we can focus our efforts on the biggest polluters and ensure families, farms and small businesses aren’t crushed by costs.”

Meanwhile, the Connecticut Energy Marketers Association participated in Technical Hearings convened online to address a variety of topics regarding the state’s upcoming Comprehensive Energy Strategy. The Association reports in a recent issue of its newsletter, CEMA Pipeline, that itsubmitted comments and papers, which can be seen on the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection’s website here

“These hearings are critical since they’ll set the stage for any upcoming legislation that will seek to reduce the use of fossil fuels in Connecticut, including heating oil, propane, diesel and gasoline,” the newsletter noted. The final hearing was held on December 15, 2022, and dealt with market-based carbon pricing schemes, the newsletter reports. “Such schemes are a backdoor carbon tax. All they do is raise the price of petroleum products for consumers, with little effect on consumption. This was the argument made by CEMA’s David Chu during the Session.”

Industry representatives from Clean Fuels Alliance America also spoke, focusing on use of biofuels and the low-carbon fuel standard pricing mechanism used in other states.

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