The California Energy Commission rolled out new building code drafts in the past week, proposing to update building standards in the state to require new homes to have equipment that would allow all-electric appliances to be built in favor of natural gas.
The updated code draft would specifically have homes be equipped with circuitry and panels to support all electric appliances, including traditional natural gas-powered stoves, ovens, home heaters, and clothes dryers. While it doesn’t force builders to not put in gas appliances, the requirement to have electric appliance support and no similar requirement to build natural gas appliance support may influence builders to not include gas support as a cost-saving measure.
Should the CEC vote for the updated code in August, new homes would be required to have electric appliance support built in on January 1, 2023.
While several California agencies failed to respond to interview requests from the Globe, CEC Commissioner Andrew McAllister did note the Commission’s reasoning last Thursday.
“We’re encouraging the technologies of the future,” said McAllister.
In a Scientific American interview with McAllister in January, the Commissioner gave a more detailed response, saying specifically on how he and the CEC would push builders to building more electric-appliance focused homes.
“We are really ratcheting up the efficiency across the board,” added McAllister. “We anticipate that we’ll be providing incentives for the market to scale up its adoption of heat pumps. You need to give the marketplace reasons to adopt it before you step in and maybe mandate it. That’s the pathway that we’re likely on.”
The large amount of greenhouse gas emissions stemming from natural gas use in buildings, which the California Air Resources Board says accounts for 10% of all greenhouse gas emissions in the state has been a major factor in the push for electric appliance-favored buildings. Governor Gavin Newsom has joined the move away from fossil fuels by banning natural gas via executive order in California, stating it is due to the large carbon footprint, and passing laws to make California carbon-neutral by 2045 and ending all new fracking operations by 2024.
Some cities, such as San Francisco, have even led the charge by passing similar non-gas, new housing laws in the past year.
“In the last several years, natural gas in California has been attacked by lawmakers, and it almost seems like every month there is some new law against it,” said Los Angeles utility engineer Kevin Mahoney in a Globe interview. “The huge reason has been the environment, although some have also been convinced because of the dangers gas brings about in emergencies such as earthquakes.
“This CEC policy would definitely influence home builders. They are trying to slash costs everywhere, and if they don’t have to put in gas hookups but do have to install the parts needed for electric hookups, new homes will be electric. There’s no question.
“There is a chance it could be reversed. The CEC has had their share of lawsuits, and Newsom may not want to push too hard on some of these things with a recall election coming up. But this is likely coming into law in 2023.”
A final decision over the new regulations in expected to be made in August.