By Mark Valentini, Director of Legislative Affairs
New York State has been ground zero for the energy choice battle since New York City successfully implemented a ban on natural gas connections in new construction and major renovations beginning in 2023. PHCC National has been working with PHCC of New York and PHCC of Long Island to advocate against natural gas bans and in favor of fuel choice legislation that allows homeowners and consumers more say in how they supplement their energy needs.
On March 2, PHCC of New York members Chris Tryjankowski and Steve Reddy attended a rally at the state capitol in Albany, New York flanked by members of the New York Senate Republican Caucus, and representatives from PHCC National and the UA to urge New York’s Climate Action Council to reconsider their hard stance against natural gas and mixed fuels. Later that day PHCC’s Chuck White and Mark Valentini visited a chapter meeting and rally for the Long Island PHCC for a presentation on natural gas bans across the country to raise awareness of the issue. Another public rally and press conference hosted by New York State Senator Mario Mattera included members from PHCC of New York, PHCC of Long Island and the Association of Contracting Plumbers of New York City, to urge Gov. Kathy Hochul to remove language in the state budget that would impose a NYC-style ban statewide. The rally included a strong showing of union contractors across the building trades in a demonstration of unity. A vote on the state budget is expected at the end of March or first week of April.
In other parts of the country, the battle for energy choice rages on.
In Virginia, House Bill 1257 would have prohibited local governments across the state from banning natural gas and propane connections. PHCC of Virginia sent a call to action to its members and lobbied hard for the bill’s passage. The bill passed the House on a near-party line vote sent to the Senate where it was amended and sent to a conference committee to reconcile the House and Senate versions. The final draft merely prohibits municipal-owned utilities from decommissioning their services without three years notice and an attempt to sell the utility in order to avoid a disruption in service. The bill awaits final action before the state legislature concludes at the end of the month. PHCC will continue the fight for energy choice alongside other stakeholders in Virginia.
In Connecticut, Senate Bill 292 could be debated as soon as this week. It prohibits natural gas connections in new construction and renovations, and prohibits the sale of electric resistance products. PHCC is monitoring this situation closely.
In Rhode Island, H7621 was introduced in the General Assembly that sets up an infrastructure bank dedicated to finance utilities’ transition away from fossil fuel sources such as natural gas.
In Maryland, Senate Bill 528 mandates that commercial buildings emit net-zero carbon emissions. However, language has been stricken that would have mandated an all-electric building code.
New Jersey’s state legislature is currently considering legislation that prohibits natural gas connections in new construction, whereas another bill bans local governments from implementing gas bans. It is estimated that up to 80% of New Jersey homes depend on natural gas.
Washington State and Oregon are each considering ways to ban natural gas through the building codes.
PHCC is tracking this issue across the country and has made vigorous advocacy for consumer energy choice its number one priority. You can track natural gas legislation and other bills in Congress and state legislatures by visiting our legislative tracking center.
Director of Legislative Affairs , PHCC-National Association