Local Ordinances and Electrification
One of the reasons for the sudden interest in electrification in California is due to an energy commission report released earlier this year. The report concluded that building electrification was “a key strategy” for reducing the state’s climate impacts. The study went on to conclude that electrification “offers the most promising path to achieving greenhouse gas (GHG) reduction targets in the least costly manner.”
California local governments can require stricter guidelines than outlined in the 2019 state energy code (Title 24, Part 6). Local ordinances must be voted on and approved by the California Energy Commission before being enacted.
On December 11, 2019, the CEC voted on local ordinances submitted by six local jurisdictions; Menlo Park, San Jose, San Mateo, Santa Monica, West Hollywood, and Marin County. All of these ordinances focus on decarbonization and energy efficiency. These requests go beyond 2019 statewide requirements, five of them support building electrification. All were approved unanimously by the CEC.
At the hearing, Commissioner Andrew McAllister said: “There is a clear mandate to decarbonize our energy systems and our economy.” He later said, “At the state level, we should partner with, learn from, and support local jurisdictions who develop innovative solutions to improve the energy performance of their communities.”
Berkeley Bans Natural Gas
Last year Berkeley was the first city in the nation to place an outright ban on the residential use of natural gas in new construction via a landmark local ordinance. Natural gas is comprised mostly of methane, a powerful and destructive greenhouse gas. The ban was voted on by the Berkeley City Council, the measure passed and will go into effect on January 1, 2020.
Recently several other cities and counties across California have enacted or are considering similar ordinances to promote decarbonization. Some require higher performance standards for natural gas appliances others are outright bans on the use of natural gas. All are focused on decarbonizing residential energy to reduce Greenhouse Gas (GHG) emissions.
This trend will continue. There are many other cities and counties in California currently working on natural gas bans and other efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from buildings. Heat pumps and electrification are looking to be the new norm in California.
Read Advocacy Update from last month: Advocacy Update, November 2019