Are your voices being heard in gas ban debate?

March 17, 2023

Originally published by WBEN Radio.  Story by Tom Puckett. 

Buffalo, NY (WBEN) As State Senate Democrats look to speed up the process of all-electrification of new builds in New York, some local lawmakers say they’re hearing concerns and are trying to voice them to their Albany colleagues.

State Senator Patrick Gallivan says his constituents are extremely concerned about the recommendations that came from the Climate Action Council for the “so called electrification of New York” over the next few years. His concern is the grid can’t handle what we have now. “People still have gas to heat their homes in some of those cases, and they had sufficient backup. So they continue to express concern about the plan,” says Gallivan. He says the accelerated plan to electrify New York’s new builds starting in 2025 is “not sustainable, not affordable. And I don’t think anybody in New York is prepared to do that.”

Does Gallivan believe his constituents are being heard about those concerns in Albany? “They are, but not to the extent that they need to be,” says Gallivan. “I think people first started talking about it, when we heard the governor talk about gas stoves in the proposed banning of them after 2030 interstate of the state. And I think it really shocked people,” says Gallivan. He notes it’s good people have been paying attention to the issue and are extremely concerned. “But they have to continue to express that concern, and hopes that they ultimately influence policymakers,” adds Gallivan, noting it seems to be backward with elected leaders telling constituents what to do rather than taking constituent voices to Albany.

Assemblymember Bill Conrad says he’s also heard from folks in his district and notes some still have trauma from the blizzard in December. He says there’s also a financial issue with going to all-electric. “Everything from changing the electric to your home, and everything else, I’m hearing ranges from 10 to $30,000, depending on what the situation is,” estimates Conrad.

Conrad believes his constituents voices are being heard in Albany. He says there are other ways to get New York to be a vanguard in energy conservation. “We need to offset costs, we need to incentivize a voluntary switch. And that we also want to see, you know, hybrid options, as well as just from a full switch,” suggests Conrad. He says the state needs to have certain guarantees in place before the changeover takes place, and there has to be a lot of feasibility done. He thinks his colleagues are listening to that.

The proposal is part of the state budget, which is due April 1.