Bill Memo: Gas Transition and Affordable Energy
This legislation amends the Public Service Law and the Transportation Corporations Law to ensure that state regulation and oversight of gas utilities realize the climate justice and emission reduction mandates established by the CLCPA.
The purpose of the bill is to give the Public Service Commission the authority and direction needed to align gas utility regulation and gas system planning with the Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act (CLCPA) mandates. Overall, the bill removes the legal basis and subsidies driving the expansion of gas systems and requires the commission to adopt rules and develop a statewide gas service transition plan that is consistent with decreasing gas reliance and, where appropriate, decommissioning gas systems.
Fossil fuels burned in buildings for heating, hot water, and cooking account for approximately one-third of greenhouse gas emissions in New York State. Additionally, heating and cooking with fossil fuels like natural gas quietly impact our indoor air quality, contributing to cases of asthma and heart disease. The Public Service Law, as is, promotes gas system expansion in its stated obligation to serve customers and its business model. This undermines the important climate justice directives and binding emissions limits in the CLCPA. Instead of letting this incompatibility issue continue, this bill better aligns the rules and business practices of the Commission with reduced gas reliance, transition to more sustainable utilities, and prevents energy bill burden among low-income ratepayers.
The bill makes several amendments to the Public Service Law. One of which includes directing the Commission to integrate “the utility sector achievement of the CLCPA” as a core planning objective to its public service responsibilities. Another key amendment directs the Commission, after developing a statewide gas utility service decarbonization plan, to actively encourage a transition away from combustible fuels and ensure that all residential customers have access to electric heating and cooling services. Notably, this bill codifies the state goal that low-to-moderate income customers must be protected from bearing energy burdens greater than 6% of their income, including those burdens imposed by the cost to purchase and operate electric equipment.
Environmental Advocates NY Bill Rating: Substantial Benefit
Memo #: 21