On January 5, Governor Kathy Hochul announced the following climate-related goals as part of her State of the State address:
- Reaching 1 million electrified homes by 2030
- Reaching 1 million electrification-ready homes by 2030
- Requiring all new building construction to have zero on-site emissions by 2027; and
- Enabling more than 800,000 low-to-moderate income households to be able to secure clean energy upgrades
Achieving these goals would involve action on the part of multiple state agencies, new legislation and working with multiple industries.
Agency Action Required
In terms of agency action, the Governor is directing four state agencies to deliver an executable plan this year that includes a funding proposal and strategies to leverage private capital.
The four agencies are as follows:
- The New York State Energy and Development Authority (NYSERDA)
- Home and Community Renewal (HCR)
- The Department of Public Service (DPS); and
- The Department of State (DOS).
Mandating new building construction to have on-site zero-emissions by 2027 would require new legislation being passed and it should be noted that the New York City Council recently passed legislation to achieve climate goals, using a process focused on construction documents and permits submitted to the New York City Department of Buildings.
New legislation would also be required to end the obligation on the part of utilities to provide natural gas in relation to the state’s most vulnerable residents.
The Governor stated that she will also seek a revamp of the state construction code to take into account greenhouse gas reduction goals and update building code cost effectiveness criteria to account for the full lifetime of installed equipment. She will also attempt to add the heads of NYSERDA and the Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) to the New York State Fire Prevention and Building Code Council.
The construction industry would be required to undergo substantial change under the above-goals and proposed legislation. To reach zero-emissions for on-site activities, it would need to adjust construction procedures, and the industry would also have to take into account the potential changes in appliance efficiency standards and the potential mandating of energy benchmarking for large buildings among other things.
Utilities would also be impacted by the changes to the appliance efficiency standards, which would seek to reduce energy use and reduce utility costs by substantial amounts. They would also be required to reduce and possibly end the use of natural gas in favor of clean energy alternatives, although it must be noted that currently this is an objective set forth by the Governor and it remains to be seen whether related legislation will pass and if so, the specific provisions that may result.
The statement released by the Governor’s office seems to indicate that the following activities concerning gas utilities would not require legislation, but only the involvement of the DPS:
- Ensuring that they minimize investments in new gas infrastructure
- Ensuring that they seek alternatives in order to minimize gas demand; and
- Engaging members of disadvantaged communities fully and fairly.
The Governor’s objectives also call for working with the finance, mortgage and banking industries to “help align private capital” with the housing sustainability goals and as stated above, the plan by the four state agencies due later this year is to include strategies to leverage private capital.
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