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 and Carbon Taxes
The Climate Action Council final plan calls for either new carbon taxes or something called “cap-and-invest” to help fund their initiatives. Both are also intended to increase the “pain” associated with using natural gas, heating oil, propane gas, gasoline, and even electricity. Energy prices are already too high. This would artificially make them even higher.
Previous legislative carbon tax proposals increased the pain each year, with costs running into the thousands of dollars for families that owned a home and cars. We could expect added costs to filter into what renters pay, and what businesses charge. Your only options would be to replace a fully functioning heating system before it is necessary and at significant cost.
$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.