New York schools ditch oil burners for electric heating to relieve asthma

City schools are on the verge of an electric shock, Mayor Eric Adams and officials said Friday.

Hizzoner unveiled a plan to get rid of dirty oil boilers in about 100 schools and replace them with cleaner electric heaters that run off New York’s power grid and don’t burn fuel on the property, officials said.

The $4 billion green energy in city schools program will begin in areas with “real problems of asthma” and other health-related factors, Adams said. All new schools being built in the city will also be heated all-electrically.

The program will reduce as much pollution as 26,000 cars remove from the city’s streets, the mayor said.

“This will be the most impactful energy initiative under this administration to reduce emissions for the city’s operations,” said Adams of PS 5’s Dr. Ronald McNair in Bedford Stuyvesant, Brooklyn.

The small elementary school will be the first in the Big Apple to stop burning oil, officials said.

These schools will get electric heating instead.
Eric Adams announced he will remove oil burners from 100 New York schools.

Bed-Stuy has one of the 10 highest rates of asthma of any neighborhood in the city. According to the city, nearly 4% of all children ages 0 to 17 in the area need emergency room visits for respiratory illnesses each year.

Around 60,000 urban schoolchildren in grades K through 8 have active asthma, the report said.

The citywide project will also install efficient LED lighting in 800 schools – about half of all Ministry of Education buildings.

“You have two mothers, I like to say you have the mother who gave birth to you and you have mother earth. And we must love these two mothers, because one gave birth and the other sustains us,” Adams said.

Contamination from oil burners is known to worsen asthma symptoms.
Adams cited asthma rates and other health issues as a reason for the change.
Getty Images

According to a press release, the program aims to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 120,000 tons annually.

Initially, around 200 schools will continue to produce electricity for on-site heat, but will switch from No. 4 heating oil to ultra-low sulfur biofuel.

The move away from the highly polluting substance was already required under local law, but pushes back the implementation timeline by a few years.

The city will also begin a $520 million investment to electrify 19 schools over the next two years and grow to a total of 100 schools by 2030.

It will cost the city around $520 million.
In the next two years, 19 schools are to be electrified.
Picture Alliance via Getty Image

“This is just the beginning and our goal is to keep moving forward,” said Adams.

Officials have so far pledged just $2 billion of the plan’s estimated $4 billion total cost and said they would “identify the remaining funds over the coming years.”

The mayor also sold the program as a jobs plan with a $13 million investment in a future green workforce including electricians, plumbers, steam mechanics, and machinists.

“What this project will do for us is first and foremost ensure that this environment in which our children learn will be a safe and clean environment for them,” said PS 5 Director Lena Gates. “For our community, it will purify the air in our community.”

“These are the children who will take up this project and move with it. We’re doing it for them,” Gates said. New York schools ditch oil burners for electric heating to relieve asthma


JACLYN DIAZ is a USTimeToday U.S. News Reporter based in London. His focus is on U.S. politics and the environment. He has covered climate change extensively, as well as healthcare and crime. JACLYN DIAZ joined USTimeToday in 2023 from the Daily Express and previously worked for Chemist and Druggist and the Jewish Chronicle. He is a graduate of Cambridge University. Languages: English. You can get in touch with me by emailing

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