Supervisors aim for all electric, no natural gas for new houses by 2026

Could add more than $2,200 to cost of a home; revise nepotism policy

NOTE: This article was inadvertently overlooked due to the publisher being sick at the time it was submitted. However, the information is still timely. Apologies for the delay in publishing it.

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By Daniel Borsuk

Will all new houses built in Contra Costa County feature all solar powered electric appliances and lights with no natural gas by Jan. 1 2026?

That’s the game plan of the Contra Costa County Board of Supervisors who, on Tuesday, August 3, 2021, instructed the county’s Department of Conservation and Development (CCCDCD) to draft an ordinance that would require home builders to construct residential buildings with all electric powered appliances. (See Subcommittee Report and staff presentation)

Just when CCCDCD will have an ordinance ready for supervisors to consider is up in the air, but the supervisors’ action demonstrates their keen interest in environmental issues. Should the supervisors eventually pass an ordinance calling for all solar powered, electric new housing, natural gas-powered water heaters, heaters, stoves and clothes dryers will be taboo.  From then on, everything will be solar powered. (See Cost-effectiveness Study)

Supervisors expect the proposed ordinance will go into effect on Jan. 1, 2026. (See Ad Hoc Committee on Sustainability Committee’s recommended Building Electrification Ordinance for New Construction)

Just when planning officials will have an ordinance prepared for supervisors to review and act on is up in the air, but Area 2 Supervisor Candace Andersen of Danville raised questions about the cost effectiveness of such a proposed ordinance.

“I have serious reservations about the California Energy Commission’s recommendations to replace natural gas with all electric powered homes,” said Andersen. “We need better cost analysis.  There are some estimates going around that all-electric could add $2,000 to the cost of a house.”

Andersen cast the one dissenting vote in instructing CCCCDP officials to draft an all-electric new residential ordinance.

Lisa Vonderbrueggen of the Building Industry Association of the Bay Area also cautioned supervisors about the genuine costs associated with electric powered versus natural gas-powered houses. She said a California Building Industry Association study found that an all-electric home is $421 less expensive to build, including the cost of appliance, “but estimates from homebuilders show increased costs of more than $2,200 per home.”

Vorderbrueggen wrote: “Will California’s aging electric grid hold up under an all-electricity design.  The state is already anticipating major demand increases from electric vehicle charging needs.”

While a letter from PG&E supporting the county’s move to promote all solar-powered electric homes generated scant interest from the general public, District 1 Supervisor John Gioia of Richmond said,“I appreciate PG&E’s statement and it has provided in-depth analysis. But I am very hesitant to move forward on it.”

“Do everything you can do to eliminate gas,” pleaded Richmond City Councilmember Eduardo Martinez. “I liken natural gas to the Covid-19 pandemic.”

“We need to act quickly,” said Lisa Jackson, an environmentalist.  “We cannot wait for the state to act. PG&E even supports this.  Let’s move forward to eliminate this potential safety hazard.”

Before casting his vote, District 1 Supervisor Gioia, who drives an electric-powered car said: “It’s all about full electrification as our main source of power.”

Nepotism Policy Revised

After not updating its nepotism policy since 2011, supervisors took the plunge and loosened its the rules on appointments on boards, committees and commissions for which the board of supervisors is the appointing body.

Supervisors voted 4-1, with supervisor Gioia casting the dissenting vote, brother-in-law and sister-in-law from the prohibited relationship list.

The revised policy now states:

“A person will not be eligible for appointment if he/she is related to a Board of Supervisors’ Member in any of the following relationships:

  1. Mother, father, son, and daughter.
  2. Brother, sister, grandmother, grandfather, grandson, and granddaughter.
  3. Husband, wife, father-in-law, mother-in-law, son-in-law, daughter-in-law, stepson, and stepdaughter.
  4. Registered domestic partner, pursuant to California Family Code section 297.
  5. The relatives, as defined in 1 and 2 above, for a registered domestic partner.
  6. Any person with whom a Board Member shares a financial interest as defined in the Political Reform Act  (Gov’t Code 87103, Financial Interest), such as a business partner or business associate.”

 

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