If you want a gas stove at home, it could cost you ex­tra un­der new SLO pro­posal

The Tribune (SLO) - - Front Page - BY NICK WIL­SON

The San Luis Obispo City Coun­cil wants to dis­cour­age the use of gas ap­pli­ances in fa­vor of elec­tric in new hous­ing to help push along its am­bi­tious goal of car­bon neu­tral­ity by 2035.

That means if you want a gas oven in your new home, it’ll cost you (if all goes as planned).

City staff doesn’t think it can legally ban the use of fos­sil-fuel in­fra­struc­ture. But the coun­cil unan­i­mously agreed it should work to­ward city laws that could ef­fec­tively phase out gas-pow­ered stoves, heaters, dry­ers and other de­vices through the use of build­ing rules that go be­yond state stan­dards for in­cen­tives to use elec­tric­ity.

New home­own­ers could choose an all-elec­tric­ity-pow­ered home or pay more for gas-pow­ered ap­pli­ances to pay for car­bon off­sets.

Car­bon off­sets ad­dress emis­sions gen­er­ated from one source by re­duc­ing car­bon emis­sions else­where, such as pay­ing for retrofits for ex­ist­ing homes and build­ings else­where in the com­mu­nity (retrofits would re­move gas ap­pli­ances and in­stall elec­tric power).

“I lived in a home that was built in 1961 that’s an all-elec­tric de­vel­op­ment,” coun­cil mem­ber Car­lyn Chris­tian­son said. “There’s no gas line. So we’re com­ing back to the fu­ture. I’m per­fectly happy with­out gas. It can be done.”

Chris­tian­son said the city should ex­pect com­mu­nity ob­jec­tions about im­pacts on home costs. But she would like peo­ple to take the “long-haul view that if we don’t do some­thing, the cost is go­ing to be tremen­dously more.”

That’s be­cause cli­mat­e­change im­pacts, caused by car­bon emis­sions, are con­tribut­ing to wild­fires, ef­fects on wa­ter sup­plies and threats to agri­cul­ture and ecosys­tems, ac­cord­ing to city of­fi­cials.

Green­house gases com­ing from non­res­i­den­tial and res­i­den­tial en­ergy use made up about 40 per­cent of SLO’s emis-

sions in 2016, with 51 per­cent com­ing from trans­porta­tion sources (6 per­cent is from solid waste and 3 per­cent is from off-road).

The coun­cil is work­ing to­ward an ag­gres­sive tar­get to be car­bon neu­tral by 2035. Car­bon neu­tral­ity, or net-zero en­ergy, is the con­cept of re­duc­ing as much car­bon diox­ide and other green­house gases from the at­mos­phere as pos­si­ble, with the over­all goal to achieve a ze­ro­car­bon foot­print.

“It’s go­ing to hurt our com­mu­nity and cul­ture way more if we don’t do these things,” Chris­tian­son said. “Some peo­ple will have to bite the bul­let and pay for it, be­cause it’s go­ing to cost way more (if cli­mate change con­tin­ues to worsen).”

The city is await­ing the con­struc­tion of 1,300 new homes with the ap­proved San Luis Ranch and Avila Ranch de­vel­op­ments. Both projects have de­vel­op­ment agree­ments stat­ing they’ll com­ply with new city pol­icy on en­ergy use at the time their build­ing per­mits are is­sued — and the de­vel­op­ers are on board with ideas for en­vi­ron­men­tally friendly en­ergy uses re­gard­less of pol­icy, ac­cord­ing to city of­fi­cials.

Coun­cil­woman Erica Ste­wart, a for­mer baker and caterer, said she thinks pro­fes­sional chefs and those who en­joy cook­ing at home may ob­ject to the idea of elec­tric-pow­ered cook­ing de­vices over gas stoves and ovens.

Mayor Heidi Har­mon said she an­tic­i­pates sim­i­lar cook­ing con­cerns. But she said many peo­ple aren’t yet fa­mil­iar with how in­duc­tion cook­ware works, and she hopes they can get ac­quainted with those tools.

In­duc­tion cook­ware heats up food elec­tri­cally, and Har­mon said it would be im­por­tant for peo­ple to get more com­fort­able with those types of tools.

“As the cli­mate cri­sis ac­cel­er­ates, and we’re re­ally just at the be­gin­ning point of that ac­cel­er­a­tion, I can see a time when these kinds of poli­cies will be handed down to us pe­riod any­way,” Har­mon said. “That just makes me to in­vite the de­vel­op­ment com­mu­nity to con­sider that pos­si­bil­ity.”

City staff said more work needs to be done to an­a­lyze the cost ef­fec­tive­ness of the pro­gram and to com­ply with state law.

Chris Read, the city’s sus­tain­abil­ity man­ager, said he’ll re­search whether the pos­si­ble new city code would “save more en­ergy than the cur­rent statewide (en­ergy) stan­dards and that the code is cost ef­fec­tive for the build­ing oc­cu­pant” — both re­quire­ments to get reg­u­la­tory ap­proval from the Cal­i­for­nia En­ergy Com­mis­sion on new lo­cal laws.

Read said that means pay­ing about the same or less on util­ity bills un­der a new pol­icy (com­pared with what res­i­dents would pay un­der the state stan­dard) over the life­time of the home.

SLO also is con­vert­ing to a Com­mu­nity Choice En­ergy pro­gram, in which en­ergy pro­vided to city res­i­dents would come from nearly all re­new­able en­ergy sources — thus fu­ture new build­ings that use all elec­tri­cal ap­pli­ances wouldn’t emit much, if any, green­house gases.

JOE JOHN­STON jjohn­[email protected]­bune­news.com

San Luis Obispo’s city coun­cil wants to dis­cour­age the use of gas stoves and wa­ter heaters in fa­vor of elec­tri­cal ap­pli­ances in new houses. A new pro­posal aligns with the 2035 tar­get of car­bon neu­tral­ity.

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