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Three Reasons for Optimism on Earth Day 2022

New York City

Earth Day, green electricity, building carbon emissions, co-op and condo boards.
April 22, 2022

Despite all the gloom and doom in the headlines, including the drumbeat of reports on the damage caused by climate change, there are reasons for optimism as the world celebrates Earth Day 2022. For New Yorkers, who live in a city where buildings account for about two-thirds of all carbon emissions, here are three big ones:

No gas. The City Council has passed a law that bans gas hookups for heat, cooking and domestic hot water in new construction beginning in 2027. The law is seen as a major step toward reducing building carbon emissions by switching from fossil fuels to electricity to power building systems.

Hydropower. The key to electrification of buildings, transportation and other systems is the greening of the electric grid — that is, producing energy from renewable sources. That push got a major boost recently the the state's Public Service Commission gave the green light to  the Champlain Hudson Power Express project, which involves the construction of 339 miles of transmission lines to carry power from hydroelectric dams in Quebec to Queens. The effort, which already has the state and federal permits it needs to begin construction in a few weeks; it is expected to begin operation in 2025.

Solar and wind. The commission also approved the Clean Path New York project, a 175-mile transmission line to carry power from solar and wind farms in Delaware County upstate to Queens. The project is expected to come by 2027.

In a small but encouraging sign that co-op and condo boards are embracing the switch from fossil fuels to electricity, a 40-unit Upper West Side co-op recently decided to abandon its antiquated gas cooking lines and switch to electric stoves, including state-of-the-art induction stoves in several units. The switch from gas to electric cost about $50,000 for additional electrical infrastructure — a fraction of the cost of replacing gas lines, which now have to be inspected every five years under stringent new city regulations in the wake of several deadly gas explosions. "We dodged a bullet in an inexpensive way," says the co-op board's president, Brian Scott McFadden. "People are giddy."

Happy Earth Day!

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