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Queens lawmakers rally in Woodside calling for energy prices to be capped for low-income New Yorkers


Photo via Instagram @ragaforqueens

Feb. 22, 2024 By Rachel Butler

Assembly members Jessica González-Rojas and Steven Raga joined residents outside the NYCHA Woodside Houses apartment complex on Feb. 21 to advocate for a bill that aims to reduce the amount that low-income New York residents have to pay for their energy bills.

González-Rojas and Raga, whose respective Queens districts cover a portion of Woodside, are advocates for the bill that they say if passed would save their low-income constituents an average of $158 on their monthly utility bills. The legislation would restrict utility companies from charging more than 6% of a family’s annual income.

The bill, called the New York Home Energy Affordable Transition – or HEAT – Act that is in committee, also aims to address climate change by reducing the use of oil and gas used to generate energy for heat and electricity.

The HEAT act proposes that energy be supplied to homes by a connected underground heat system where heat can be transferred between buildings known as a thermal energy network. This system is also expected to reduce costs in comparison to the burning of fossil fuels like oil and gas.

González-Rojas said that families are having to use more heating and cooling units in the extreme weather conditions in New York due to climate change, and that low-income families should not have to carry this burden.

“The NY Heat Act protects New Yorkers from bill hikes and will increase energy efficiency with upgrades to every household. It’s time for us to pass this bill, protect New Yorkers, and create a safer environment for all,” she said.

Raga said that this is a pivotal moment in the current climate crisis, and that he is committed to advocating for lower energy costs for low-income families across New York and in the borough of Queens.

“Together, we must pass this act into law, ushering in a new era of a resilient and sustainable New York State,” he said.

The Woodside Houses apartment complex is currently undergoing a pilot program of using electric heat pumps which were installed in July 2023.

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