Oil & Gas News

Natural Gas Ban? Marin County Is Next

Gas, Natural Gas

By: SF Chronicle – Marin County is poised to require that new buildings get all of their energy from electricity rather than natural gas starting next year, joining the ranks of more than 50 California jurisdictions, including many in the Bay Area, that have similar ordinances.

That means electric stoves instead of gas ranges and heat pumps instead of natural gas heaters, with no gas hookups allowed.

While the Marin County Board of Supervisors will officially consider the ordinance at a public hearing on Tuesday, the board indicated at a meeting in October that they would pass it.

The move comes as part of a statewide effort to slash emissions and reach carbon neutrality by 2045 as the state grapples with the effects of climate change, including extreme weather and increasingly intense and destructive wildfires. As the state pushes forward, California’s localities are adopting climate-focused ordinances such as removing natural gas appliances to help reach those goals.

If approved, the ordinance would only apply to unincorporated areas of the county. Cities and towns would have to adopt the gas-to-electric changes separately, which Marin sustainability officials noted would be key in making an impact. Fairfax and Mill Valley already require new construction to be all-electric.

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Currently, passenger vehicles and energy use within buildings make up most of Marin county’s greenhouse gas emissions, according to the Marin Community Development Agency. Transportation takes up 56% of emissions while energy from buildings makes up 31% — most of it from natural gas.

The policy would not require people in existing buildings to replace their natural gas appliances with electric ones, though the county will continue to provide incentives for people switching over. It would include exceptions for buildings like restaurants as well as hardship and feasibility exemptions.

For existing buildings undergoing relatively sizable remodels or additions — projects over 750 square feet — the ordinance would require that new appliances meet a more stringent energy efficiency standard, but not that they be all-electric.

The Marin Community Development Agency held several community engagement events before recommending the policy.

Brian Reyes, a sustainability manager with the agency, told the board of supervisors that utilities like PG&E are preparing for increased demand over time as California increasingly moves away from gas toward an all-electric future and that the phased approach will help the transition go smoothly.

At the October meeting, board members expressed appreciation for the Community Development Agency’s work in putting together the policy and spoke about how critical its adoption would be in fighting climate change.

“In the end, it shows Marin leading,” said supervisor Judy Arnold.

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