Passing The Full NY HEAT Act Essential To Protect Bronx Residents From Sky-High Energy Costs

Published on May 23, 2024, 4:00 pm
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Across New York State, households are tired of seeing their energy bills rise—especially when families are already struggling to pay for rent, groceries, and medical necessities. Some parts of New York are struggling worse than others. In the Capital District region, more than one in five residents are energy burdened. And in the Bronx, Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie’s home turf, families are dealing with the twin burdens of high energy costs and skyrocketing asthma rates.

Speaker Heastie has an opportunity this session to address both burdens at once. The NY HEAT Act, which would cap the cost of monthly energy bills at 6% of a household’s income and help increase the adoption of highly efficient heat pumps, is essential to keeping energy bills low and helping residents breathe cleaner air. Further, this bill would help protect residents from untenable energy bill hikes today and in the future by ending outdated laws that subsidize the expansion of fossil fuel infrastructure.

Rising energy costs are a real threat to affordability today in the Bronx. According to a 2023 report, 65% of residents can’t afford to live in the Bronx, where the cost of living has increased by 123% since 2000. More than a third of Bronx residents grapple with high energy bills, a trend that will only continue as utilities continue to get the green light to raise rates for unnecessary fossil fuel spending. By capping utility bills at 6% of a household’s annual income, the NY HEAT Act could save the average energy-burdened Bronx household $135 per month – giving people back $1,620 each year for groceries, childcare, prescriptions, and more.  

As bills skyrocket, a growing body of research shows that the air pollution that comes from burning fossil fuels in buildings exacerbates health problems across the state, and nearly 19% of childhood asthma cases in New York can be attributed to using gas stoves in the home. These health impacts aren’t felt equally. People of color in New York are exposed to 2.6 times as much outdoor particulate matter (PM2.5) pollution from residential gas appliances as white New Yorkers. By investing in modern clean heating systems like heat pumps for all, the NY HEAT Act will help New Yorkers swap out the fossil fuel heating equipment that pollutes the air we breathe, indoors and out.

Transitioning our homes and buildings toward clean heating and cooling can and will be a massive job creator. By ending the “obligation to serve gas,” the NY HEAT Act would empower New York’s regulators and utilities to work together to pursue plans that move entire city blocks, street segments, and communities together toward clean heat solutions like heat pumps and thermal energy networks. Already, utilities have proposed 11 thermal energy network pilots across the state that would provide a just transition for gas utility industry workers, who can use their existing skills to expand affordable, reliable, clean heating and cooling to entire neighborhoods. By building the renewable energy system of the future today, the NY HEAT Act creates the good, green jobs needed to support it.

A good leader takes care of working New Yorkers in the Bronx and statewide. By passing the full NY HEAT Act this session, Speaker Heastie can put money back in people’s pockets, alleviate the harmful air pollution that disproportionately impacts lower-income New Yorkers and communities of color, and build a pathway to clean energy union careers. We can’t squander this chance. It’s time to deliver cleaner heat and lower bills by passing the NY HEAT Act in June.


About China Copperstone

China Copperstone is the Environmental Justice Research Analyst at We Stay / Nos Quedamos in the Bronx and a member of the statewide NY Renews coalition.

Jonas Bronck is the pseudonym under which we publish and manage the content and operations of The Bronx Daily.™ | - the largest daily news publication in the borough of "the" Bronx with over 1.5 million annual readers. Publishing under the alias Jonas Bronck is our humble way of paying tribute to the person, whose name lives on in the name of our beloved borough.