Coalition Applauds Governor Kathy Hochul & State Legislature Signing
Utility Thermal Network Energy & Jobs Act Into Law
(BROOKLYN, NY) Tuesday, July 5, 2022, New York Governor Kathy Hochul signed the Utility Thermal Energy Network and Jobs Act into law at the Brooklyn Navy Yard in Brooklyn, NY today. She was joined by members of the United Association of Plumbers, Pipefitters, and Sprinkler Fitters, NYS Pipe Trades Association, Clean Energy Jobs Coalition-NY, Building DeCarbonization, as well as bill sponsors New York State Senator Kevin Parker and Assemblywoman Latoya Joyner, who championed the bill to create emissions-free thermal energy networks.
The Utility Thermal Energy Network and Jobs Act will transform New York’s electric and gas utilities by enabling them to build emissions-free thermal energy networks. These utility-scale networks connect multiple buildings together with each other and allow transfer of energy with thermal sources like geothermal boreholes, surface water, and wastewater.
Governor Kathy Hochul said (at 1:50 in the press conference video), “John Murphy… thank you for all your leadership not just for the New York State Pipe Trades but for all the people who will be lifted up by the thousands of jobs that will be created by our continued partnership and bringing together the environmental community, the climate action community, and labor community together… that’s when we hit the sweet spot and say we can get to a better future but also lifting people up with good paying jobs so their families can live the American Dream like mine did because of labor.”
During the press conference, Governor Hochul went on to express that New York has some of the most ambitious emissions reductions plans in the country and said the Thermal Energy Network & Jobs Act will help achieve those goals. She noted that the initiative will unlock tremendous job opportunities and replace fossil fuels in underground pipes with underground thermal resources to provide heating and cooling for buildings.
She said (at 12:02 in the press conference video), “John and the Pipe Trades keep people trained… This is an exciting new area,” and confirmed that $15 million was committed to facilitate planning and design for demonstration projects. The governor observed that there will be 286,000 clean energy jobs by 2050 and that New York is well on its way.
“The journey to a clean energy future requires an ‘All of the Above Strategy.’ The adoption of the Utility Thermal Energy Network & Jobs Act will provide a just transition for thousands of middle-class New Yorkers while forging a path to decarbonization. We are grateful that Governor Kathy Hochul’s shared vision for a clean energy future was met with enthusiasm by the State Legislature via Senator Kevin Parker and Assemblywoman Latoya Joyner. Their hard work in partnership with Governor Hochul’s actions will help New York preserve and create thousands of jobs, lower utility bills, and achieve its clean energy goals and objectives for years to come,” (at 29:30 in the press conference video) said John J. Murphy, International Representative of the United Association of Journeymen & Apprentices of the Plumbing and Pipefitting Industry of the United States and Canada and member of the Clean Energy Jobs Coalition-NY representing over 270,000 management and union energy jobs in NY.
New York Director of Building DeCarbonization Coalition Lisa Dix said (at 31:20 in the press conference video), “Today’s theme hits at the core of why New York is a national leader on climate change and uplifting workers across the state. It shows that New York has a serious commitment to reducing carbon emissions while ensuring that workers are not left behind in the transition.” “The coalition came together to figure out how to pave a transition for workers and meet our environmental climate targets at scale and figure out the utility pathway,” she noted. Ms. Dix thanked the AFL CIO, NYS Construction & Building Trades, NYS Pipe Fitters for working with the Sierra Club, New York League of Conservation Voters, Alliance for a Green Economy, ALIGN, and WEACT for Environmental Justice. She concluded (at 35:20 in the press conference video), “This coalition put together an amazing vision that was passed almost unanimously in the Assembly and unanimously in the Senate … and I am excited we are ensuring that New York’s workforce is going to stay union throughout all the efforts to transition our economy to clean energy and fight climate change.
Senator Kevin Parker said (at 24:09 in the press conference video), “It is going to be ‘All of the Above Approach to transition to a clean energy system.” He acknowledged how legislators worked together to move the bill forward and praised Governor Hochul for leading the fight against climate change. “The two bills signed into law are apart the process to do a lot of granular work to make a just transition happen,” he added.
Assemblywoman Latoya Joyner said (at 28:00 in the press conference video), “Shout out to the coalition of environmental advocates and labor unions who made today happen. Special thanks to Lisa Dix. Thanks to John Murphy, the Plumbers, the Pipefitters, Sprinkler Fitters, WEACT, and Utility Workers … we were able to get this passed in record speed with two days left in session because we worked together.” She added that the legislation positions New York to meet its climate goals while saving prevailing wage jobs.
Senator Jessica Ramos said (at 18:21 in the press conference video), “It is the Trades who we trust who will ignite the pace to the transition to renewables.” She added that “Labor must be front and center in a Green New Deal” and noted that “it is the right thing to do” to pay prevailing wages to workers in the Solar industry. She concluded that the right way to build out New York’s energy system for a just transition is to do it by “Union.” Senator Ramos ended her remarks thanking her colleagues in the legislature, specifically thanking NY Senate Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins and Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie, as well as singling out Clean Energy Jobs Coalition member John Murphy by saying (at 19:15 in the press conference video), “I want to thank John Murphy and the Building Trades, you guys have been amazing partners in this endeavor.”
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How the Energy Bridge Bill Came to Pass
The Utility Thermal Energy Network and Jobs Act is the result of collaboration between environmental groups and labor. During the final days of the 2022 legislative session in Albany, the measure emerged out of discussions between the Building Decarbonization Coalition’s Lisa Dix, John Murphy (a Clean Energy Jobs Coalition Member) with the International Representative of the United Association of Plumbers, Pipefitters and Sprinkler Fitters and Alliance for a Green Economy’s Jessica Azulay. The group recognized the need to start the process of facilitating a smooth transition to a clean energy solutionsr that would protect jobs, maintain reliability, and promote affordability.
Benefits of the Legislation
Thermal Energy Networks would allow customers access to clean energy, while providing a transition for gas utilities and their workforces. Utilities in most regions of New York have been proposing thermal energy network demonstration projects, but have been in many cases unable to move forward due to legal barriers that the Utility Thermal Network and Jobs Act will remove. By utilizing multiple sources of renewable thermal energy from the environment and reusing and sharing thermal energy among buildings, thermal energy networks would be highly efficient and help bring down peak energy needs of the electric grid. Utilities will be able to reduce the cost of electrifying buildings by spreading the costs of these networks across many customers and many years.. Thermal Energy Networks would help reduce the upfront costs of building decarbonization for building owners and provide access to the most efficient forms of renewable thermal energy for people who cannot easily install geothermal energy on their own property.
Learn more about thermal energy networks here: