One of the bills that continues to raise questions as the state legislative session winds down is the NY HEAT Act. It seeks to curb new natural gas hookups while working to ensure ratepayers don’t foot the bill.

Sources say the most likely way the HEAT Act makes it to Gov. Kathy Hochul's desk this session is through the omnibus bill known as the "Big Ugly," but they say it could still move on its own.

Multiple sources close to conversations in the state Assembly say if there is a "Big Ugly," it’s very likely to be in there, but Hochul’s decision to abruptly postpone the implementation of congestion pricing has upended the process, sowing doubt on things that seemed settled for days. That includes the very existence of an omnibus piece of legislation. 

As of Thursday afternoon, the bill's Assembly sponsor, Pat Fahy, was hopeful that some variation of the bill will make it through all of the noise.

“It’s not over until it’s over,” she said, noting: “Will it be the bill the way it looks right now? Absolutely not.”

As written, the bill would change state law to abandon the practice of requiring utilities to supply gas to any customer who wants it, demanding that ratepayers foot the bill if those customers live within 100 feet of an existing line. That is known as the 100-foot rule.

It would also cap utility bills at 6% of their income for low-and moderate-income households, which advocates say could save affected families up to $75 per month.

“It’s the 11th hour. We’ve got to be flexible,” Fahy said. “I hope we still do the 100-foot rule, I think that’s critically important, I hope we still address some affordability.”

If the bill advances, the 100-foot rule appears safe, but elements surrounding the regulatory authority of the Public Service Commission remain under scrutiny.

The bill has already passed in the state Senate but has struggled to gain traction in the Assembly.

Opponents like Republican Assemblymember Phil Palmesano say they hope this is the last we hear of the NY HEAT Act. He argued that New York isn’t ready for the transition, and he’s concerned New Yorkers will rack up unnecessary costs as a result of what he characterized as the state’s refusal to explore alternative means of lowering emissions.

“It’s part of a plan to dismantle the affordable natural gas infrastructure supply and delivery system in a march to full electrification," he said. "It’s designed take away consumer choice in how you heat your home, cook your food, power your buildings and the car that you drive and it’s very costly." 

In response, Fahy says it’s part of playing the long game as the state works to transition away from fossil fuels and meet climate goals.

“We know traditional gas is getting less and less affordable, when we move toward renewable energy it is cheaper. Costly at the front end, cheaper in the long run, much cheaper.”