Money Matters

NY State has not come clean about the huge cost of electrifying everything

NY’s CLCPA law set extreme carbon reduction goals without specifying how they would be accomplished. Now that the Climate Action Council has issued its recommendations, many parties are questioning the cost estimates and how it will make NY even less affordable.

“Cap and Invest” is a new tax on the energy you use

As part of their extreme climate plans, lawmakers in Albany are moving ahead with a complicated revenue-raising scheme they call “Cap and Invest.” It requires companies whose energy products generate emissions — including suppliers of your home’s heating fuel, your car’s gasoline and the fuel that generates electricity and transports the goods you need — to purchase “allowances” based on their estimated greenhouse gas impact.

They call it a tax on “polluters,” but the cost of these “allowances” will result in huge energy price increases for all New Yorkers. It amounts to a massive new tax.

Prices will permanently increase

According to the administration’s own modeling, “Cap and Invest” will likely increase gasoline costs by 62 cents per gallon. It will cost the majority of New York families 80% more to heat their homes. And you can expect these cost increases to inflate prices on virtually all consumer products, along with rent and common fees.

While the details of this plan are still being worked out, we already see red flags. For one, these “allowances” will be distributed as part of an “auction” system, which opens the door for speculation and enormously inflated prices. At a similar program’s first auction in Washington State (which New York actually cites as a good model), the rate for one ton of carbon ended up being more than double what state agencies predicted, according to reporting from Real Change News.

NY plans to punish consumers who don’t switch to electricity fast enough

The pain will escalate over time because they plan to make penalties worse each year. These inflated costs will disproportionately hit everyday families who can’t afford to go out and buy an electric car or convert their homes to electric heating.

If you don’t think this is a good idea, you need to make your voice heard right now!

$20,000+ to convert to heat pumps and electric appliances

The Climate Action Council plans call for the state to outlaw natural gas, heating oil and propane gas system replacements starting as early as 2030. So if your boiler, furnace or water heater goes down, you would need to switch to heat pumps, at significantly higher costs.

How much higher? Results reported from three different heat pump conversion programs run by the New York State Energy Research Development Agency (NYSERDA) and the Massachusetts Clean Energy Center (MCEC) confirm that the cost of the work would run $20,000-$25,000 for a whole house conversion to heat pumps. While there are currently subsidies for electric conversion, the installation costs now probably exceed those reported because: 1) they were based on installations from several years ago, before the cost of heating equipment and labor increased significantly. 2) they were for small homes. 3) they only covered the heating system, and not the additional cost of converting water heaters and stoves, which will also be required.

Moreover, converting to heat pumps is no simple thing. Imagine what happens if your unit fails during extremely cold weather, and all of this needs to be done? Now consider that NY already has some of the highest electric rates in the country and are projected to go even higher.

Who will this hurt the most?

We need to ensure that the path to zero emissions doesn’t leave those least able to pay behind. Wealthy residents have the means to pay new taxes and cover pricy system conversions. Many lower-income households will receive subsidies. But a considerable number of working and middle-class families will have to shoulder the cost of this law.

In “California’s Natural Gas Bans Are Drawing Fire from Black and Latino Leaders,” which appeared in Forbes last December, energy reporter Robert Bryce describes problems that CA’s version of electrify everything is creating among traditionally disadvantaged groups.

If NY State moves too far too fast, it will create a backlash across the state against any efforts to curb carbon emissions. NY needs a smarter energy policy that take advantage of traditional fuels that can get increasingly reduce their carbon content and increase their efficiency. It needs to recognize that forcing people to pay significantly more for energy and give up their freedom to choose will set back the path of carbon reduction.

It’s Time

Speak up for your energy future and reach out to your legislators.

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