California cities ban gas heaters
California has become increasingly ambitious in its efforts to combat the effects of climate change. When Senate Bill 100 was signed in 2018, the state committed to obtaining all of its electricity from clean sources such as wind, solar and hydropower by 2045 – eliminating the use of coal, nuclear and natural gas. But the state didn’t stop there. On the same day, then Governor Jerry Brown also signed an executive order committing the state to total economywide carbon neutrality by 2045, meaning that California will remove as much carbon dioxide from the atmosphere as it emits by that date.
Legislation did not include a roadmap for how this might be achieved; backers of the bill and executive order said that simply setting a target helps fuel the efforts of scientists and the energy industry in its development.
Then and now, opponents have argued that removing fossil fuels out of the electricity grid within three decades simply isn’t possible. Furthermore, efforts to do so will lead to significantly higher electric bills across the state.
But according to John Norwood, Chief of Government Relations for the California Pool and Spa Association, that hasn’t stopped state agencies from doing their best to achieve the goals.
“When they pass these goals, they become biblical – it is handed off to the state agencies who run with them. The California Energy Commission, the California Air Resources Board and the Building Standards Commission are all basically given a mandate to go towards non-carbon producing renewables and electric buildings,” Norwood said.
The stringent state requirements are one thing. However, in California, local governments have the authority to adopt amendments to the California Building Standards Code, commonly known as “Title 24” of the CA code of Regulations. Often referred to as REACH codes, local governments have the power to adopt and implement ordinances that exceed those of the minimum state code.
Norwood says REACH codes are being adopted by more and more California cities. Of the 458 California cities, he estimates that about 31 have enacted local REACH ordinances that, once adopted, go into effect the following year.
There are many different kinds of REACH codes that the California Statewide Codes & Standards Program supports, but among the most controversial are those that entirely ban the use of natural gas in new homes and businesses, sometimes also applying to remodels.
CPSA sample letter for service
California gas appliance ban
Your Address City, State, Zip Date The Honorable [First & Last Name] Address City, State, Zip I am writing to ask you to consider opposing the enactment of any local ordinance banning the use of natural gas as an energy option in our city.
While I favor clean air, I feel the banning of clean natural gas and moving towards electrification is much less efficient and substantially more expensive for business/homeowners. Electric rates in California are as high as $.37 cents per kWh vs. natural gas at $1.40363 a therm (1 therm = 29.3 kWh)*. Energy costs (not factoring in the efficiency of appliances) are almost 8 times more expensive with electric appliances. Taking away the choice of natural gas use significantly raises costs and changes the way we use our homes. Our backyard swimming pools, BBQs and firepits have become much more important since COVID-19 and will continue to be in the future.
It is my understanding that a few cities have enacted REACH codes banning the use of natural gas in new and remodeled homes and commercial buildings in the name of reducing greenhouse gases but creating other problems.
I support a balanced energy portfolio for our community utilizing solar, electricity and natural gas. Banning natural gas altogether limits options and raises prices.
Just a few years ago, state and local entities spent millions of dollars to promote clean natural gas to develop electricity, power rapid transit, and the heating of our homes and water.
I ask that you consider taxpayer dollars that contributed to this campaign as well as increased costs to homeowners and businesses if a natural gas ban is implemented.
Thank you for your time and consideration.
Sincerely, Name Email & Phone Number This means no gas hook-ups at all: No gas stoves, water heaters or space heating, no natural gas pool or spa heaters, natural gas barbeques, fireplaces, fire pits or outdoor heaters.
New commercial buildings with restaurants will not be able to cook with gas stoves; health clubs, schools and athletic facilities will not be able to heat commercialpoolsandspaswithnaturalgas.
It is obvious that this means significant consequences to the pool and spa industry in areas that adopt the codes.
There are many who are in opposition to such ordinances, and the California Pool and SpaAssociation, CPSA, with the support of the Pool and Hot Tub Alliance, PHTA, has joined state coalitions consisting of restaurants, realtors, the building industry, gas appliance manufacturers, commercial building owners and patio interests to fight back. In addition to the ramifications to major industries within California, opponents to city-wide gas bans say that it is not possible to go 100 percent electric without undermining the reliability of the grid and without tremendous increased costs for consumers.
“The advocates that want an allrenewable system have indicated that California will have to generate twice the electricity to take care of the needs by 2045. They are going to have to expand and improve the electrical grid – and the conservative estimate to do that is $75 billion,” Norwood said.
To get the amount of solar energy the state will need, Norwood says it will require 700,000 acres of land committed exclusively to solar.
Another renewable energy source is offshore wind, which experts say will be essential to California achieving its renewable energy and greenhouse gas reduction goals for 2030 and 2040.
However, Norwood says this has yet to be developed in California.
“Meanwhile, to store that energy they will need up to a million lithium ion batteries because we need back-up when the wind doesn’t blow and when the sun doesn't shine. Well, those lithium ion batteries can explode and they are fire hazards,” Norwood said.
And in a state that experiences increasingly expensive fire seasons, public utilities are already incurring tremendous costs.
Furthermore, Norwood says that allelectric houses cost more to build and maintain.
“When houses get remodeled to convert from gas, they have to replace the service panel with a bigger panel. That’s $7,000 to $8,000 right there. California realtors say that for every $1,000 you add to the price of a house, over 100,000 Californians will no longer be able to afford to purchase their own home,” Norwood said.
Norwood believes the costs to the consumer will skyrocket, and will exacerbate the existing affordable housing and homeless problem.
The CPSA has spent countless hours monitoring REACH codes, filing comments in opposition to the ordinances and educating the public on what 100 percent electric will mean for the future of California.
However, because these codes are enacted at the city council level, there is little time to respond to their proposed adoptions.
“It’s a full time job to monitor the actions of 458 city councils. And the most time you have is 48 hours to respond to their notices,” Norwood said.
Terry Doyle, Product Manager for Fluidra, said that like it or not, electric is the future of California.
“This train has already left the station and it's going to happen. It's just a matter of how quickly,” Doyle said.
The CPSA has created a flier about California cities decarbonization efforts and a sample letter (see page 13) for concerned citizens who would like to contact their local city council members.
Visit https://thecpsa.org/naturalgasflyer- cpsa-electronic/.