By The Business Review (Albany)

Home heating oil, hot tubs, swimming pools, some lamps and the office water cooler all will soon have to become more energy-efficient and environmentally friendly.

New York Gov. David Paterson signed such requirements into law this week, along with 47 other bills. He vetoed seven bills (for a complete list, go to

One of the new laws slashes the amount of sulfur allowed in fuel oil used in residences and businesses. New York state is the largest consumer of heating oil in the nation, according to the billâ¿¿s sponsors.

The law applies to No. 2 heating oil, which can be used in homes or at commercial and industrial sites. The law kicks in on July 1, 2012, for the start of the 2012-13 heating season.

By that time, any No. 2 heating oil companies sell must contain no more than 15 parts per million of sulfur. The current average sulfur content is 2,000 parts per million; under previous state law, it could be as high as 10,000 parts per million.

The bill⿿s sponsors argued that home heating oil can be put through the same refining process that a lot of diesel fuel is put through, making it ⿿inexpensive⿝ to cut down on heating oil⿿s sulfur content. Sponsors also said sulfur build-up reduces efficiency of heating systems.

⿿This brings heating oil into the 21st century,⿝ said Ken Ray, president of John Ray & Sons Inc., a heating oil and fuel distributor based in Troy.

Heating oil is the same as what⿿s called ⿿off-road⿝ diesel fuel, used to power objects such as excavators and generators. But sulfur regulations were enforced on off-road diesel a few years ago⿿forcing Ray to buy more trucks to handle what had become separate products that could not be mixed together.

Now, heating oil has the same sulfur standard as off-road diesel, enabling Ray, with 65 employees, to cut down on transportation costs.

The bill passed 115-25 in the Assembly and on a party-line 32-29 vote in the Senate. Many Republicans in the Senate cited concerns the new sulfur standard requirement would lead to increased costs that would ultimately be passed on to consumers.

The oil industry split on the bill. Groups such as the Oil Heat Manufacturers Association supported it, while ConocoPhillips (NYSE: COP) and Hess Corp. (NYSE: HES) opposed it.

Ray said consumers will pay more for the low-sulfur heating oil.

⿿It⿿s not significant; it⿿s a few percent more. And as they produce more low-sulfur fuel, like anything, the economies of scale will help reduce cost,⿝ Ray said. ⿿We welcome it.⿝

Paterson urged legislators to pass a bill to make the new low-sulfur heating oil tax-exempt. Currently, Paterson said, the state Department of Taxation and Finance views the low-sulfur fuel as a form of what⿿s called ⿿enhanced diesel fuel,⿝ which is subject to a tax of 40 cents per gallon.

In addition, another bill Paterson signed into law makes a range of products subject to efficiency standards that the state Department of State will set by yearâ¿¿s end, in consultation with the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA).

The Department of State now has the ability to test, certify and enforce efficiency standards on water coolers, some lamps, residential pool pumps and hot tubs. The bill passed in bipartisan votes in the Assembly (104-29) and the Senate (56-5).

Copyright 2010 American City Business Journals

Copyright 2010