Story by Max Faery.  Originally provided by WBEN Radio Buffalo.

Buffalo, N.Y. (WBEN) – A majority of Western New York are not in favor of state’s plan to transition from natural gas to electric for home heating, according to a Siena College Research Institute poll.

The poll finds 74% of WNY respondents say they don’t believe the state could generate enough electricity to heat buildings and hot water on the plan’s timeline, 87% say the state should create an energy mix that uses both natural gas and electric.
“We have to set ambitious goals and hope that we meet them,” said NYS Assemblyman Patrick Burke. “The climate is changing it’s caused by the human consumption of fossil fuels. The folks who may dispute that, the evidence isn’t on their side, so we have to address that.

But also, we have to face realities of our grid, of the challenges we have. And frankly, we have to prioritize consumers as well. Whatever we do, it has to be done in a way that is thoughtful about how people are going to pay to upgrade their homes to all electric and it can’t be done at their expense. And it can’t be done at the at a cost that’s going to affect the future of their families.”

When people hear of a ban or a mandate, questions and red flags get raised and anxiety and worry seems to quickly accumulate quick among citizens. Our state politicians appear to be in the early education phase, getting their questions addressed as well as inquiries regarding plans for this phase out, which are still, essentially, being put together, even though we are talking about tight deadlines that could take effect as early as 2030 if any legislation were to be passed.

71% of Western New Yorkers polled say they believe New York State shouldn’t have such an “aggressive” timeline. Democratic NYS Senator Sean Ryan would agree.

“I share the same concerns as my constituents. There’s, as part of the budget message, this idea that we’re going to make a ban on certain appliances in 2030. I’d prefer to take 2023, 24, and 25 to make up a plan for how we can replace these appliances before we announce a plan,” said Senator Sean Ryan. “It seems pretty premature to me. There’s a lot of time between now and 2030. One method, that’s not a good method, is needlessly scaring Western New Yorkers.”

Burke says conversations will have to continue and more questions will need to be raised, such as concerns with grid strength that a majority of New Yorkers (80%) are concerned could lead to widespread power outages.

“There is a lot of fear tactics being used, but then there are also legitimate concerns that I’m trying to address. And certainly, I can’t speak for everyone in the Western New York delegation, but I’m bringing those legitimate concerns back to Albany with me.”

Another concern? Cost. 80% polled says they worry about the cost to make the switch. Can the state incentivize?

“Yes, absolutely. We have to,” the assemblyman said. “And certainly the federal government is doing their part through several initiatives by President Biden. There are there are ways to use federal resources to get an electric stove to electrify your house. And that’s not really being talked about enough.”

Assemblyman Burke mentions his team is doing analysis now. “On what programs are available to people, and we’re going to try and relay that to our constituents so that it is an incentive, rather than something that’s punitive. It will, of course, has to come with incentives. You’d rather it be a nudge rather than a push.”