Fossil Fuel Free Homes and Businesses
Stationary combustion of fossil fuels in buildings accounts for approximately 13% of overall greenhouse gasses in Humboldt County. Burning gas also releases nitrogen oxides and particulates, which can have serious health consequences. As the electrical grid decarbonizes, switching from stationary combustion to electricity becomes an increasingly effective way to curb the release of greenhouse gasses. Because the RCEA plans to provide 100% clean, renewable electricity by 2025, local emissions from the use of electrical appliances will soon be negligible.
All appliances that currently run on gas or propane fuel can be substituted with appliances that run on electricity. High-efficiency heat pumps can replace natural gas or propane furnaces; electric hot water heaters, which can be grid-connected to utilize favorable electricity rates, can supplant natural gas or propane heaters; and induction stoves can oust dirty natural gas. Transitioning to all-electric will allow us to make deep cuts in emissions while also providing substantial improvements in efficiency, safety, and health.
Appliances, buildings, and gas and electric infrastructure are all major investments meant to last for decades or more. If we’re to meet a 2045 decarbonization goal, we must stop investing in new fossil fuel infrastructure in our homes and businesses and ensure that financing mechanisms, incentives, and technical support are available for investments in clean appliances. Programs to support building decarbonization must be designed so anyone, regardless of income, can have an all-electric home and workplace.
Utilize Building Codes
Because local governments can directly regulate buildings via building codes, they are well positioned to make deep cuts in building emissions while helping the community avoid investing in natural gas infrastructure that will soon need to be abandoned. Local governments must immediately implement an ordinance requiring new buildings to be all-electric in order to avoid locking in emissions that will continue for decades. Local governments should also consider requiring that buildings be “electrification ready” (upsizing a panel, running conduit to where it’s needed for a new electric appliance, etc.) at the time of a sale or rental turnover.
Incentivize and Help Finance Retrofits in Existing Buildings
Incentives and financing opportunities must be provided to local community members for the replacement of appliances, electrical upgrades, and panel upgrades. Incentives and financing should prioritize low-income residents.
Work With Utilities to Scale Back Natural Gas Infrastructure
Instead of investing in costly repairs to the natural gas distribution system, PG&E could work with local governments to decommission natural gas infrastructure and fund a transition to an all-electric energy system. Repair funds could be redirected to cover electrical work, panel upgrades, and new, all-electric appliances.