Governor Kathy Hochul gave New York a lot to look forward to in 2022 in her State of the State address on January 5th. There are hundreds of pages covering her agenda for this year, including ambitious proposals to equitably decarbonize New York’s buildings sector and advance renewables and clean transportation. The outlined agenda is critical to improving New York’s environment and implementing the landmark Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act (CLCPA), New York’s nation-leading “carbon neutrality by 2050” law – and will result in myriad benefits for New Yorkers, including improved air quality and public health outcomes and the creation of good, local jobs. (Apropos of 2022 goals, including many policies highlighted in the State of the State, and with a great roundup of NRDC’s NY victories in 2021, too, see my colleagues’ Richard Schrader and Marissa Guerrero’s blog.)
There is much to be celebrated in the State of the State on buildings. The Governor focused on the electrification of 2 million homes, with at least 800,000 of those for low-to moderate-income households; committing to electrify at least one million homes and make a million more electrification-ready (making them more energy efficient and upgrading their electrical systems to accommodate installing all-electric heating and hot water appliances when they need to replace their current ones). To help pay for these upgrades, the Governor proposed creating a dedicated green electrification fund to electrify low-income homes in NYS Homes and Community Renewal's new $25 billion, five-year housing capital plan. NRDC is a part of the BEEP-NY campaign which has been calling on the Governor to set bold equitable electrification goals, sending a letter to the Governor in October signed by over 200 organizations—so thank you Governor Hochul!
As part of the state’s building electrification goal, the Governor proposes to have the relevant state agencies create a plan this year to deliver the following:
- Require all new buildings to have zero on-site greenhouse gas emissions no later than 2027 (echoing recommendations included in the recently released Climate Action Council Draft Scoping Plan and NYSERDA’s Carbon Neutral Buildings Roadmap, with smaller buildings going first).
- Pass new appliance efficiency standards, reducing energy and water use while saving New Yorkers billions of dollars on their utility bills.
- Require large buildings to track their energy use (a.k.a. energy benchmarking).
- Mobilize private capital to deliver the ambitious building goals by working with the state’s finance, mortgage and banking industries.
- Ensure there’s a skilled workforce to transform these buildings by creating the training programs for New Yorkers to build this clean energy future.
- Level the playing field for clean energy alternatives by removing subsidies for fossil fuels, and ending the obligation to serve customers with fossil gas that currently exists in state law, with strong protections to maintain affordability for vulnerable New Yorkers.
- Expand the State’s Clean Green Schools program to bring clean energy solutions (geothermal heating and cooling, solar power, electric school bus charging and more) to over 1,000 public schools in Disadvantaged Communities.
- Raise the current rate of electrification of approximately 20,000 homes per year more than tenfold by the end of the decade.
We will continue to work with the State to get to 2 million energy efficient, electric homes by 2030, half of which are affordable housing in Disadvantaged Communities.
The Governor will also direct the state’s utility regulator to have gas utilities minimize investments in costly new gas infrastructure, promote alternatives to reduce gas use, and engage members of disadvantaged communities fully and fairly in the gas transition so they are not stranded and saddled with the rising costs of a shrinking gas system.
The State of the State also includes key proposals to increase the deployment of renewable electricity and clean transportation, some of which are highlighted below:
- Phase out the dirtiest electricity generators—“peaker plants”—and deliver new clean generation to New York City.
- Continue to move towards New York’s critical offshore wind goal with the initiation of planning for an offshore wind transmission network and an additional $500 million in funding.
- Doubling the energy storage goal to 6 GW by 2030 to enable New York’s grid to be 100% zero carbon by 2040.
- Support congestion pricing to reduce congestion and support public transit.
- Make all school buses electric by 2035.
- Fund an additional $175 million for EV fast chargers near highways.
- Expand the EV make-ready program for heavy-duty vehicles (buses and trucks).
- Electrify the state’s light-duty vehicle fleet by 2035.
The year is off to a great start for the environment and for tackling climate change in New York. We’re looking forward to working with the Administration and others to advance these bold State of the State commitments and other initiatives to build an equitable clean energy future—and to making some impressive progress in 2022!