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Senate Republican Leader Rob Ortt addresses the media. (Submitted photo)
Senate Republican Leader Rob Ortt addresses the media. (Submitted photo)

Guest Editorial: Senate GOP joins business & labor leaders in opposition to NY Heat Act

Wed, Mar 20th 2024 05:00 pm

Say Senate Democrats ‘continue to make life less affordable for hardworking New Yorkers’

Submitted by the Office of New York State Sen. Rob Ortt

New York State Sen. Mario Mattera, ranking member of the Senate Energy Committee, along with Sens. Tom O’Mara and Rob Rolison and members of the Senate Republican Conference today were joined by New Yorkers for Affordable Energy Executive Director Daniel Ortega at a Capitol press conference to call for a cost benefit analysis of New York’s climate policies and to oppose a costly new mandate, the New York Heat Act.

Since Democrats passed the Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act in 2019, Republicans have demanded answers about its cost, expressed concerns about its mandates, and questioned if its goals were realistic or achievable.

Further, the Senate Republican Conference has unanimously opposed new energy costs and mandates such as the NY Heat Act/Affordable Gas Transition Act. These policies will raise rates for at least 75% of New Yorkers, eliminate thousands of good-paying union jobs, and slap up to $50,000 in costs on homeowners who may be forced to transition from natural gas to electric heat.

Senate Republican Leader Rob Ortt said, “There is no better example of how glaringly out of touch Albany Democrats are than their extreme, unrealistic energy policies that will continue to hike costs for ratepayers and take reliable energy sources offline. The latest example is the NY HEAT Act – the Senate passed it last year, and again yesterday, and the Senate and the governor both have versions of this bad policy in their budgets. The bottom line: This is another extreme energy policy that will raise rates; eliminate jobs; limit access to a clean, reliable energy source. Not to mention it will force huge costs on homeowners to transition from natural gas to electric heat. Our conference remains committed to a clean energy future that prioritizes affordability and reliability, and builds a strong, diverse portfolio of energy sources.”

Mattera said, “There needs to be a realistic plan, not an ideological ban that will cost New York ratepayers trillions and result in real job losses for our hardworking men and women of labor. As a proud union leader who creates jobs, I know there is a better approach that avoids this costly, ill-conceived and reckless approach to our energy future. It is up to those who are pushing this to accept reality and to join us to come up with a realistic way forward that protects our ratepayers and our workers both now and in the future.”

O’Mara said, “The NY Heat Act is a disaster on the horizon for the vast majority of middle-class ratepayers. New York is already one of the least-affordable and highest-taxed states in America. Our state leads the nation in population loss. The Heat Act will only make it all worse. The Albany Democrats continue to impose unaffordable and unrealistic clean energy mandates with no concern for their affordability, feasibility or reliability. They keep reaching deeper and deeper into the pockets of middle-class taxpayers, destroying family budgets, killing local jobs, and devastating local economies with the promise of very minimal or realistic benefits for most New Yorkers.”

Rolison said, “We all favor a cleaner environment; the question is how we achieve this outcome in a way that does not impose more harm and heap more costs on struggling working- and middle-class families. Gov. Hochul's plan will hurt blue-collar workers, and raise costs on ratepayers who have watched their bills skyrocket in the last year. By banning the 100-foot rule and imposing new mandates for electrification before most industries are ready, the governor has set up Hudson Valley homeowners, businesses and utility customers to fail.”

New Yorkers are already struggling to pay high utility bills, largely driven by policies conceived by Democrats. Even before CLCPA was passed in 2019, 25% of the delivery charges on utility bills were made up of New York state taxes and fees.

Since then, things have only gotten worse. According to an analysis by the Empire Center for Public Policy of the first CLCPA report published by the Department of Public Service last summer, rates have already been driven upward by as much as 9.8%.

Passing the NY Heat Act would be a disaster for most ratepayers. While the bill caps utility costs for 25% of New Yorkers according to its sponsors, the money needed to continue to operate the grid will merely be picked out of the pockets of the 75% of those who do not receive any assistance. This is a classic political bait and switch, where a small group benefits while hard working middle-class families bear the burden. Further, the NY Heat Act would eliminate the “100-foot rule” for gas service that would lead to thousands of utility workers losing their jobs.

Ortega said, “On behalf of our collation of business and labor organizations, I want to thank Leader Ortt and the Senate Republican Conference for fighting back against energy policies that are expensive, ill-conceived and bad for our economy. We need common sense and not extreme climate ideology to lead the way. New York is blessed with an abundance of resources. If we plan carefully, we can reduce emissions, protect jobs, and keep costs reasonable for consumers. In order to get there, we must pause on our current course, appropriately measure the costs already imposed, and stop passing new mandates like the New York Heat Act, which only make things worse.”

The New York Heat Act (S2016-A) passed the Senate in 2023 and again, this year. Hochul has included a version of it in her budget that she calls “The Affordable Gas Transition Act.”

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