NYC Natural Gas Ban Costs Potentially ‘Astronomical’

By Maddy McCarty, P&GJ Digital Editor

A New York City ban on natural gas connections in new buildings by 2030 and announced policies to ban natural gas and other fossil fuels in large buildings by 2040 could cost New York City households upwards of $25,000, a Consumer Energy Alliance study shows.

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio announced in January the ban on gas hookups in new buildings, joining other cities that have done the same, including Berkeley and San Francisco in California, Reuters reported. Blasio also announced intentions to block new pipeline infrastructure, the study states.

Consumer Energy Alliance, a non-profit, energy-industry support group, used a cost calculator to determine the potentially “astronomical” cost to a New York City household, which factors in appliance models, home configuration, labor and reliance on natural gas.

Of the potential “more than $26,500,” about $20,000 or more comes from heat pump installation including labor, fees and permits, the study shows. The national average to install a heat pump is $5,613, according to the HomeAdvisor webpage cited in the study, but installation costs range up to $39,000 depending on the type of heat pump.

Other costs Consumer Energy Alliance factored in include hot water heater replacement and removal, installation of electric stoves and dryers and installing an outlet/switch.

The U.S. Energy Information Administration forecasts an average U.S. residential gas customer will pay $572 for winter energy compared with $1,209 for households using electricity for heating.

Electric heating is not as effective as furnaces during severe cold snaps, the study states.

“And as the nation has recently seen with grid reliability challenges in Texas, consumers need always-on options like natural gas to ensure they have the power and heat they need to weather freezing winter temperatures,” the study states.

The study notes carbon emissions across New York have already fallen dramatically, according to information the Environmental Protection Agency tracks. From 1990 to 2015, natural gas was used for power generation 150% more and total emissions from the electricity generation sector decreased 42%, the study states.

Carbon emissions in New York have dropped 24% since 1990 with increased natural gas use, pipeline infrastructure expansion and an improved grid, according to the study.

“CEA wants to see a clean future with lower emissions. We can get there without dictating energy choices to families, seniors and neighbors along the way,” the study states, noting renewable natural gas is an exciting technology that can help reduce methane emissions while using existing infrastructure.

“Large-scale renewable opportunities from offshore wind and hydropower, along with battery storage technology, are other options on the horizon that will help further drive down the Empire State’s emissions profile,” the study states. “However, misguided attempts to ban energy services will lead to astronomical costs and jeopardize energy resources that are helping reduce harmful emissions in New York.”

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