Following multiple delays, elected officials and renewable energy advocates urge PSC for faster, bolder climate action in statewide gas planning proceeding


December 7, 2020 

Contacts: Courtney Williams, (609) 468-7080
Lee Ziesche, (954) 415-6228 

Over 170 elected officials, including NYC Comptroller Scott Stringer and Westchester County Executive George Latimer, have signed on to a letter calling for a managed, equitable and affordable transition from fossil fuels to renewable heating, a demand advocates in New York have been making for years.

Many of the growing number of New York elected officials weighing in on the statewide Gas Planning Proceeding represent regions that have faced moratoria and/or widely-opposed new fossil fuel infrastructure.

“As we move away from fossil fuels to more sustainable forms of energy, we must adhere to the recommended guidelines from the Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act (CLCPA), sooner than later,” said Assemblywoman Latrice Walker whose constituents have been opposing National Grid’s fracked gas pipeline being built in their community. “It is life or death for us as a society and government to align our energy systems with the goals of the CLCPA and expand on renewable alternatives in communities like Brownsville.”

The New York State Department of Public Service was supposed to file a “White Paper” in the proceeding on August 17 but has requested 5 extensions. During the four month delay, the country has been hit by four hurricanes and three tropical storms, seen almost 4 millions acres burned by wildfire, all while New York utilities are still spending hundreds of millions of ratepayer dollars on new fracked gas infrastructure. 

“With so little time left to get off fossil fuels, every minute matters,” said Courtney Williams, who sits on the City of Peekskill Conservation Advisory Council.  ”When it comes to getting off of fracked gas here in New York, we keep seeing delay after delay with no explanation for it. How much further can you kick the can down the road before it’s too late?” 

New York State banned fracking almost 6 years ago in December of 2014, but has continued to increase its use of fracked gas for heating, cooking and power generation.

“In the several months that New York State has delayed this crucial proceeding Con Edison has continued to hook up new gas customers in my area. And it’s ratepayers footing the bill,” said Megan Dyer, artist and organizer for Mothers Out Front, Westchester County. “Soon it will be 2021 and the hard working families in my community deserve their money to go to clean, renewable energy instead of gas which will be unusable by 2030 if we follow NY State Law, CLCPA.”

“Tompkins County has been a leader in heat pump adoption,” said Tompkins County Legislator, Martha Robertson, whose region has also faced a gas moratorium “but one barrier to more widespread enthusiasm for heat pumps is the unreliable electricity service provided by our utility, New York State Electric and Gas (NYSEG). Unless grid reliability is ensured by the PSC, our region will be challenged to meet the state’s beneficial electrification and energy efficiency goals.”

Delays in supporting an equitable transition to renewables hits low income New Yorkers the hardest.  

“I represent thousands of residents who struggle to pay their utility bills each month,” said Senator Rachel May. “Our winters are long and cold. And in the summer, the lack of air conditioning in many buildings has increasingly become a public health crisis. I’m concerned that the energy transition prioritize the health, safety, and security of low-to-moderate income New Yorkers.”

Renewable advocates are hoping New York State has used the delay to address the converging crises the state is facing. “The technology already exists to make this transition in the heating sector, what is lacking is clear guidance from our state regulators and a market signal that fossil fuel heating is drawing to an end in New York,” said Bill Nowak, Executive Director of the New York Geothermal Energy Association.