NYC Council Votes To Ban Natural Gas in New Buildings

Dem-backed measure passes 40 to 7, forces most newly constructed buildings to use electricity

Anna Jones, 69, sits in her unheated apartment sixth floor apartment without electricity with granddaughter Amirah Levant, 6, in the Ocean Bay public housing projects in the Far Rockaway neighborhood on Nov. 9, 2012 in the Queens borough of New York City. / Getty Images
December 16, 2021

The New York City Council voted on Wednesday to ban new buildings from using natural gas amid a nationwide spike in energy prices.

The Democratic-backed measure, which passed 40 to 7, will force most newly constructed buildings to use electricity instead. The law will phase in restrictions beginning in 2023.

The measure comes as the country confronts a historic surge in energy prices. The Biden administration's Energy Department said in October that it expects heating costs to jump as much as 54 percent this winter. The cost of energy commodities has spiked 57 percent over the last 12 months, according to a recent Labor Department report, pushing the country's inflation to multi-decade highs.

The natural gas prohibition is expected to raise energy costs for New Yorkers. The average cost to heat a home with natural gas last winter was $573, according to the Energy Department. Electricity, meanwhile, costs an average of $1,268.

Democratic lawmakers who spearheaded the legislation said it will reduce carbon emissions in the city. Much of electricity in New York, however, is generated in plants that burn fossil fuels.

"This bill was about prioritizing people over profits and properties," Councilmember Alicka Ampry-Samuel said Wednesday. "We are at a point in our lifetimes that we need to act. We need to make sure we are protecting and saving our environment."

New York state passed a law in 2019 that requires all electricity to be generated with nuclear or renewable energy by 2040.