The New York Times reports the cheapest, heaviest and dirtiest forms of heating oil, No. 6 and No. 4, were contributing more soot pollution than all the cars and trucks on the streets.
Under a 2011 city law, No. 6 will be banned as of July 1, 2015. By 2030, all buildings in the city must use cleaner fuels such as No. 2 oil or natural gas.
The expense can be a major obstacle. Converting a boiler to lighter oil can cost between $5,000 and $17,000, the Times said, and switching to natural gas can cost hundreds of thousands of dollars.
Buildings that burn No. 6 after the deadline could face penalties beginning at $560 for the first violation, and the city can take landlords to court to force a conversion.
Engineers and contractors who specialize in conversions are now booked up for the next year. Some buildings must get their chimneys relined, which can cost up to $10,000 per floor. Another problem is that in some parts of the city sufficient natural gas supply does not yet exist.
Between 2011 and 2013, Consolidated Edison has switched 1,535 large buildings to natural gas from dirty heating fuels. But its natural gas lines expansion program is not scheduled to be completed until 2019.
Photo: Tom Thai Flickr photostream