Contra Costa Supervisors Want To Require New Developments To Use Electricity Over Gas

August 4, 2021 8:00 am · 48 comments

The Contra Costa County Board of Supervisors officially asked staff Tuesday to craft an ordinance amending the county building code to require electricity to be the sole source of power for all new residential and non-residential (hotel, office and retail) buildings, while prohibiting the installation of natural gas piping.

The board voted 4-1, with Supervisor Candace Andersen dissenting. Andersen said she wanted to see more details on sustainability and infrastructure and believes homeowners should have more options.

“It’s important they have an opportunity to weigh in,” Andersen said, referring to municipal advisory councils and others in unincorporated areas.

Supervisor Federal Glover, a member of the board’s sustainability committee, said having staff write the ordinance doesn’t preclude more discussion of issues brought up Tuesday.

“I don’t think that we need to wait in terms of having our staff go out and start to put together that ordinance that we will have to review before approval in any event,” Glover said.

Board members mentioned new state rules mandating solar for most new development, and how wildfires and a lack of water to power hydroelectric facilities could affect new laws. Other questions from supervisors included powering new development in areas like Canyon and Morgan Territory and how such an ordinance would affect remodels.

A county ordinance would affect unincorporated areas where the California Energy Commission has accepted studies demonstrating the cost effectiveness of the new requirements.

In September 2020, Contra Costa County adopted a climate emergency resolution, saying the county should require electricity over gas in new construction, saying in a staff report for Tuesday’s meeting, “The built environment is one of the largest sources of greenhouse gas emissions in the county and in California.”

The report also said the board should consider asking the county’s sustainability committee for a recommendation as to whether newly constructed restaurants and industrial buildings should also be held to the same standard.

Supervisors could wait for the state to impose the same requirements into its building code, which the report says isn’t likely to happen until 2025, for implementation in 2026. The next state building code update is scheduled for 2022.

WC August 4, 2021 at 8:26 AM

Ooh! The People’s Republic of Berkeley did it now we have to copy them.

If I wanted to live in Berkeley I would. Quit trying ot turn WC into Berkeley.

Anew August 4, 2021 at 10:05 AM

California’s single-party regime is rushing to enact the worst policies imaginable. Which is why Larry Elder needs to win the recall. ‘Issues and Insights’ has some current details at — https://bit.ly/3lzlFR1

HappyPappy August 4, 2021 at 8:26 AM

This is another reason I’m glad to have escaped the lunacy of CCC.

sam malone August 4, 2021 at 8:33 AM

I am sick and tired, as are others, of being told what to do when we are taxed to death and have no say in anything. Those few of us that follow the laws and act humanely are being screwed every which way to pay for all of this foolishness that allows others not to work or contribute to society, yet they are the loudest screamers.

‘Bout time for us to start screaming back.

Yves Harlowe August 4, 2021 at 8:34 AM

Nice. Just read an article where the state is facing a 3500 MW shortage this summer and a 5000 MW shortage next summer. In an attempt to prevent blackouts, the governor has issued a proclamation that relaxes air pollution rules to ease the shortage. So, ban new natural gas connections in homes and businesses, mandate electric cars. Makes perfect sense, no?

https://wattsupwiththat.com/2021/08/03/california-electricity-woes-more-intervention-higher-prices-more-emissions-the-back-side-of-wind-and-solar/

Ricardoh August 4, 2021 at 8:45 AM

Who in the hell do these people think they are? Time to start a recall of all of them. Who names their kid Federal? That should be a clue. Is this part of the green new deal? Just what we need more power lines. Maybe we can burn the whole state down.

WC---Creeker August 4, 2021 at 8:59 AM

…” adopted a climate emergency resolution, saying the county should require electricity over gas in new construction” But they offer nothing in alternative energy sources to replace gas like nuclear, wave produced. Tell me your going to build a micro nuclear plan to create green energy that will cost a fraction of what we pay now, then I like the idea. But just taking away gas without any alternatives is not showing any leadership. Maybe if you want to stop the ‘climate emergency’ write an ordinance that people can’t have babies for the next 10 years.

Man in Brown August 4, 2021 at 9:08 AM

Oil and gas are destructive and dangerous fuels. We are transitioning away from them, as we should. New construction should have no gas lines. It should also have as much solar as they can put on and near it, to give it an additional source of power. It should also have a large capacity battery back-up. It is just NEW buildings, not legislated retrofits.
Even if you don’t believe in climate change, you understand that these fuels give off poisonous exhausts. Just because you don’t breath out of the furnace exhaust does that mean you should still put it out into the air we all breath? You can’t honestly think that “it’s just a little, it won’t harm anyone.” That’s the thinking that has led to animal extinctions. “We can’t possibly kill them all!”
Unfortunately we have to have these things legislated because we won’t do it on our own in large enough numbers to make a difference.
I believe that everyone has the right to do what they want, but that right ends when it effects my life. If you want to burn gas then you have to keep all the exhausts too.

T-Rex August 4, 2021 at 9:44 AM

Go live a healthy life and call me in 80 years to tell me you’re still alive. Bet you can’t.

Ricardoh August 4, 2021 at 9:57 AM

Maybe my Mother and Father had they an electric cooktop could have lived to a hundred and twenty instead of the just making it to one hundred because they cooked, heated their house, and water with gas. You phony environmental scientist are too much.

Reality Bites August 4, 2021 at 9:59 AM

It wasn’t a gas line that started the #DixieFire

To Do List August 4, 2021 at 10:15 AM

Where is the credibility? If you Google it, I find that China is building coal plants like crazy and the CO2 emissions from them are measured in the hundreds of billions of tons, while the CO2 emissions from all US non-utility natural gas is in the hundreds of millions. Millions vs. billions.

Man in Brown August 4, 2021 at 12:17 PM

I’m not saying here aren’t other problems or countries that are worse than us. I’m saying that we need to make an effort in the better direction. There is always something better and worse. We need to emulate the better, not use the worse as an excuse for inaction.
If everyone did this think of the world we’d live in. But they don’t. That’s why we have to legislate change.

To Do List August 4, 2021 at 12:53 PM

Mr Brown: What we need is to see if global warming is happening, if CO2 is the cause, and if it is, what to intelligently do about it. Lets ignore the first 2 ifs and deal with the last. When facing a potentially planet killing idea, do you want to just deal with theater or reality? My numbers are for the US, so California playing with natural gas legislation is on the order of one-ten-thousandths of the impact on CO2 of what China is doing, from my back of the envelope calculation. That makes it theater. If you want serious, first you have to get a bipartisan consensus to work politically domestically and then through diplomatic efforts and technology such as possibly the innovation in direct capture of CO2 from the atmosphere to deal with it. I blame Democrats on limited progress since they fouled the well with their lying and viciousness over the past several years, their current emphasis on CO2 just looks like more lying. Ethics matter.

Bob Wiley August 4, 2021 at 10:08 PM

Man in Brown, where do you think California gets it’s electricity from? A small percentage comes from solar, wind, and hydro but most comes from our power plants. We are at such a shortage that we are purchasing power from Oregon.

Our power plants use natural gas or wood to fuel the fire that boils the water that turns into steam to propel the steam turbines. The only way to overcome the electricity shortage is to ramp up production which would mean re-opening our mothballed power plants.

jjshawk August 5, 2021 at 8:42 PM

Electricity can be dangerous and destructive as well. Electrical fires start all the time; in homes, in cars, in public places, and in nature. Some of the methods used to produce and store electricity are potentially harmful to the planet. I’m all for innovation, hope it continues, but we are a long way from replacing fossil fuels, entirely.

JRocks August 4, 2021 at 9:19 AM

Math is like kryptonite to Democrats.

We do not generate enough power in California. We should reduce our demand for electricity, not increase it. With this new mandate, electrical demand per home will more than double.

You will most likely add the following loads. These are average amperages per appliance in a standard 2500 square foot house. If the house is bigger then the amperage may increase per appliance. This is a ball park estimate. Some houses have a mix of electric appliances and gas appliances.

Electric Dryer (30 amps 240v)
Electric Oven/Cooktop- (40 amps 240v minimum)
Electric Hot Water Heater (not a tankless)- (30 amps 240v)
Electric Furnace- (30 amps 240v)

Add the mandatory 40 amp 240v circuit for the EV charger and you get an estimated 100-170 amps of extra mandated electrical demand. This is an estimate, but there is no doubt that this new ban on gas will increase the demand for electricity.

When you increase the electrical load of a building then the entire infrastructure feeding that load must be upsized to handle the new loads. 200 amp services become 300 amp services, and 300 amp services become 400 amps etc…

Pool heaters and Spa heaters will be additional electrical loads if someone has the audacity to want to heat their pool with electricity.

Bruce August 4, 2021 at 9:24 AM

Our electric grid is already stressed; more flexalerts are the evidence of that. The elimination of gas powered autos in the 2030 timeframe by multiple auto makers will stress it even further. Public Safety Power Shutoffs will impact the more rural residents even more than urban residents. Yet our county sups are piling even more demand on the electric grid to the detriment of their rural constituents. So much for a better future!
I believe that climate change is a problem, but the blanket elimination one fuel source for all homes is not the answer. Flexibility and options are always good. I hope the county sups are listening. I’ve just about given up hope than any or our elected representatives at the state and federal level are listening and representing their constituents.

PO'd August 4, 2021 at 9:33 AM

PG&E says we get 35% of our power from nat gas (staewide)
plants. Locally we live off the Antioch plant, which is nat gas. Trying to offset
nat gas by requiring heat pumps over gas furnaces is purely feudal. Consumers will not be happy about the price increases, or the faster replacement rate as heat pumps don’t typically last as long as gas furnaces.

HC August 4, 2021 at 9:38 AM

With all the power outages, this is a bad idea. Gas is a reliable source of energy.

Anon August 4, 2021 at 10:25 AM

What do you all mean there’s not enough electricity?
That solar on your roof is going to power the Malls & Shopping centers…..while you will get hosed.

You solar folks need to have the ability to isolate your systems from the Grid to avoid the Utility pulling from your solar and from your batteries.

Aunt Barbara August 4, 2021 at 10:46 AM

Start with banning all GAS polluting leafblowers.

nytemuvr August 4, 2021 at 2:25 PM

There’s Aunt B’s Pavlovian response, it must suck not to be able to control that.

WC August 4, 2021 at 2:35 PM

You should move to Berkeley.

Gary August 4, 2021 at 10:49 AM

This is great news. The elimination of natural gas as a energy source in California is happening. That is fact. Local governments preparing for that eventuality is the responsibility of our elected officials. Not doing so would be a complete abdication of their duty. Ensuring that all new construction is powered by electricity will ensure that into the future we will be able to implement a renewable energy solution. The next step will be to retrofit existing construction and bring those buildings into the 21st century.

The State, the utilities and our local governments are all planning for the same natural gas free future in California. That will spread to other States, but as usual, California leads the way with innovation and forward thinking regarding climate and renewable energy.

Yves Harlowe August 4, 2021 at 1:03 PM

Enjoy your blackouts and ever higher rates.

PO'd August 4, 2021 at 7:55 PM

Are you proposing to eliminate nat gas fired generating plants? If so, how will we generate enough electricity? This is crazy talk that the
AOCs of the world are trying to sell to the voters.

Gary August 5, 2021 at 9:41 AM

Natural gas power plants will be phased out over time, and yes I am very supportive. Natural gas is not sustainable, so we must plan for the country’s future.

Obamavirus August 4, 2021 at 11:32 AM

Democrats are ideology driven not science or fact driven
Imagine Bozo Newsom sitting on his hands while the forests burned last summer refusing to commit the needed resources
They wanted to set the stage for 2020 elections by creating crisis not only with fire but with race and BLM riots
Look at all the stupid deranged Marxist rules and regulations they pushed through
Think of all the destroyed forest and habitats for bear, deer, badger, coyote, fox, owl, eagle
Think of the people who had to inhale all that smoke for months
Disgraceful political calculation
They wanted the “ largest ever” fire blah blah for news narrative
Obongo did the same thing with Clearwater Horizon oil rig spill in Gulf
When will this board begin to act in the interest of CC residents and tax payers only Andersen seems competent

jose August 4, 2021 at 11:54 AM

Some time the people of this state will figure out that it is the environmentalists that run the state capital and tell the lawmakers what to do.
How is this plan is ‘clean’ is quite a stretch. California imports most of it’s electric from out of state. NIMBY does not make things clean, it just pollutes someplace else.

PO'd August 5, 2021 at 8:30 AM

Jose is absolutely correct, the CO2 burden is transferred somewhere else. We buy power from Oregon that is largely hydro-electric when
available. During the heat wave last month, Oregon needed the power,
and we were waiting for blackouts, which thankfully didn’t appear. The
only reason for this is poor planning in California as far as new plants are concerned.

ClayDen August 4, 2021 at 1:10 PM

Climate change is the new religion of the left. Climate changes, it always has and it always will. There is likely some human input to climate change, but the science is not settled, nobody knows with any certainty what the human contribution is, and it may be fairly small. We do not have enough electricity to make the change to all electric buildings. I’ve read several books on climate change, with the most recent being “Unsettled: What Climate Science Tells Us, What It Doesn’t and Why It Matters” by Steven Koonin. This is the most comprehensive and well researched of all of the books I’ve read. We need to do more research and not do anything dumb, like moving to all electric buildings with an inadequate electrical supply. Another issue is that the U.S. is a small part of the problem. We need to look at this as a systems problem and look it the WHOLE system; I say this as an aerospace systems engineer.

Ardath August 4, 2021 at 2:44 PM

ClayDen
You should really research your sources before sounding biased.
Steven is theoretical physicist, not a climatologist or even a weather forecaster. In other words I have as much credibility as he does. And I say he is wrong and by the way so does Scientific American.

To Do List August 4, 2021 at 3:26 PM

Scientific American magazine has on its website under the “environment” tab the story: “Wild Pigs Release as Much Carbon Emissions as 1 Million Cars.” I couldn’t make this up if I tried. What is the California state government doing to address this.

Anew August 4, 2021 at 5:59 PM

I think that when California pig farmers give up because they can no longer afford to raise pigs, we will see more pigs released into the wild.

nytemuvr August 4, 2021 at 9:11 PM

@To Do List, Ardath….Scientific American used to be a good, reliable source of knowledge. I subscribed for decades until a couple of years ago when I cancelled my subscription. It slowly moved from a non-political magazine to the left and then far left rag. I looked forward each month to get my magazine, now I wouldn’t read it if it was free.

Led August 4, 2021 at 3:50 PM

So the state has a blackout problem Let’s put more stress on the grid, yay! As long as it takes some choice away from people it must’ve good!

Man in Brown August 4, 2021 at 4:02 PM

I see many arguments against electricity. Do you really hate this power source? If you could get all the electricity you wanted whenever you wanted would you still want gas? Yes, cooking on the stove with gas is nice. But unless you have AND USE an exhaust fan, all the CO2 from the burners stays in your house. It’s easy to attack something, let’s hear your reasons for supporting future use of gas. It’s cheap. Yes, it’s subsidized. Think of all the other things you buy. Is cheap the only reason to buy it? Usually cheap things are cheap because the quality is bad and that’s the only way to get you to buy it.
Let’s hear you support your argument for the future use of gas.

Led August 4, 2021 at 5:33 PM

I don’t hate electricity, I love it. I have it in my house. And gas. I like gas, too. I have both.

This is typical CA governance: harass individual households with onerous regs for very small benefit, and then treat the real big users very differently.

BORbeliever August 4, 2021 at 6:37 PM

@Man in Brown,

Since when could we “get all the electricity you wanted whenever you wanted”?

We have been subjected to rolling blackouts in the past and more are threatened. Where is all this electricity going to come from?

Man in Brown August 4, 2021 at 10:34 PM

I have solar on my house with a battery backup. I don’t use PG&E for electricity at all. If I couldn’t use gas (which I do) then I would just need another battery. If your new house didn’t have gas and came with electric appliances, solar panels and battery backup, you would have no difficulty. Retrofitting houses would be difficult and expensive. But if all new houses and commercial buildings had this it wouldn’t be bad. And that is what is being considered.

Gary August 5, 2021 at 10:00 AM

Its not about being anti-gas. Gas does pollute some amount, thats not in question. Gas is also a resource that is not infinitely available, it will run out. That is also not debatable. So whether you do it for the environment or ensuring that we will have a sustainable source of energy, gas is not the answer.

Taking the step now to move newly constructed buildings to an energy source that will last us forever makes sense.

Its happening folks. Government knows it and the utilities know it. Why do you think that all major utilities are investing heavily in renewable energy? Their business models understand the need to invest in energy that will stand the test of time. If they weren’t doing that, they’d slowly die out.

Yves Harlowe August 5, 2021 at 12:51 PM

this isn’t about “hating electricity.” Electricity is fine. We use a lot of it in our home. We also use natural gas. It doesn’t stress the grid. And not everyone can afford solar panels and battery backup. How many people in this state do you think can afford that? Requiring those things for homes will do nothing but drive up the already high cost of housing.

Why do you hate poor people?

Enginerd August 4, 2021 at 4:49 PM

Truly, we are governed by idiots. All of this virtue signaling is going to turn California into a 3rd-world state. “Follow the science”, they say. Natural gas is incredibly efficient and clean burning for domestic heating and cooking. That’s a fact.

earl August 4, 2021 at 5:57 PM

what a load of BS!!

we already can’t turn on our A/C on hot evenings and now new homes can’t have natural gas, what a F$%^ing bunch of idiots!

#RecallCCCoSupervisors

jose August 5, 2021 at 4:13 AM

Let me see if I understand this thinking…….;the state wants us to conserve electricity between 4 PM and 8 PM……..so the grid won’t colapse, but at the same time wants us to use electricity instead of natural gas.
Help me here…….guess the enviros want their cake & eat it too?.

Randy August 5, 2021 at 7:38 AM

…. dumb idea… we can’t provide the electrical power we need now with using gas

Cowellian August 5, 2021 at 8:10 AM

This is just nuts. Natural gas is much more efficient and cost effective than electricity.

I grew up in TVA country, and I’m certain houses were designed to use as much electricity as possible. Our house was heated by wires in the ceiling that supposedly radiated down into the room. Instead of hearing a furnace, we could hear the meter spin.

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