Pictured Above: Rewiring America (rewiringamerica.org) is filled with information about all electric houses.

East Hampton Town, which is ever-seeking to be at the forefront of the green energy movement, is drafting a new Local Law that would require all electric heating and cooling systems in all new construction and substantial renovations (more than 50 percent) beginning Jan. 1 of 2025.

The New York State Legislature passed the All-Electric Buildings Act last year, which will require all new homes to be heated and cooled using electric sources, and requires stoves in new homes be electric beginning in 2026.

The state’s provision requiring electric stoves has become a lightning rod, with many opponents proclaiming that Governor Kathy Hochul is coming for peoples’ gas stoves.

East Hampton Town Board members favored sidestepping the gas stove controversy when they discussed the proposal, initially brought to them by the town’s Energy and Sustainability Committee last summer,  at a work session in March. 

Councilwoman Cate Rogers, the town board’s liaison to the committee, said she initially had questions about whether the electric grid had enough capacity to handle more all-electric homes, and on the proposal’s impact on local companies that provide oil and propane. 

She said LIPA CEO Thomas Falcone assured her that “the grid is resilient to any new increase in electric use,” and added that the town had processed just 20 permits for new construction in the first two months of 2023, making it unlikely the town’s requirement for new construction would have a substantial impact on fossil fuel companies in the one year until the state law goes into effect.

She added that concerns about the grid being powered by green sources of energy were allayed greatly by the completion in March of the South Fork Wind Farm, which “added 132 megawatts of clean energy into the grid. It was an answer to a proposal for more power during our peak usage.”

Ms. Rogers added that not including stoves in the law would “support a just transition” to the statewide rules.

“The cost of electric stoves is quite high right now. It’s a burden,” she said. “But this gives our community a chance to get a bit ahead of the state.”

Councilman Tom Flight urged the town to include a public education component to help people learn how to maintain new equipment like heat pumps.

“How users get the longest life and most efficient use out of their units is critical,” he said. “On the appliance aspect, I understand a lot of the concept is about air quality control in households, and leakages in lines for gas appliances. I do think those are valid concerns, from a health perspective, but I’m fuzzy on whether air quality inside a house is a town board’s role to dictate.”

Board members agreed to draft the local law, which would be subject to a public hearing before it would be adopted.

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Beth Young
Beth Young is an award-winning local journalist who has been covering the East End since the 1990s. She began her career at the Sag Harbor Express and, after receiving her Masters from the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism, has reported for the Southampton Press, the East Hampton Press and the Times/Review Media Group. She founded the East End Beacon website in 2013, and a print edition in 2017. Beth was born and raised on the North Fork. In her spare time, she tinkers with bicycles, tries not to drown in the Peconic Bay and hopes to grow the perfect tomato. You can send her a message at editor@eastendbeacon.com

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