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Palo Alto to ban natural gas in new buildings

Original post made on Nov 5, 2019

Palo Alto took its most dramatic action of the year on reducing greenhouse-gas emissions Monday night, when the City Council agreed to institute an "all-electric" requirement for new buildings starting in 2020.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Tuesday, November 5, 2019, 1:27 AM

Comments (102)

97 people like this
Posted by Climate Justice Crusaders
a resident of Greendell/Walnut Grove
on Nov 5, 2019 at 4:37 am

This is insane. Their rationale is once again, "climate change" but Palo Alto and Berkeley doing this alone ***literally*** won't do anything whatsoever to stop climate change. So its a symbolic gesture meant to try and influence every other city in California?
For them to go forward with a mere virtue signaling gesture, in spite of the added costs and collateral damage it will cause, is yet another sign of how badly insulated and out of touch with reality these people are. They are being so reckless with their power and must be voted out in favor of leaders who would actually do their job of ***serving*** the people who elected them.


9 people like this
Posted by WingNut Catch Phrase
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Nov 5, 2019 at 5:31 am

See if you can spot it.


63 people like this
Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Nov 5, 2019 at 5:54 am

It wasn't too long ago that all fireplaces had to be changed to gas when the home was sold. Funny that.

Restaurant chefs want gas stoves!

Electricity is now too unreliable in California.

My 3 comments.


11 people like this
Posted by Charles Walters
a resident of College Terrace
on Nov 5, 2019 at 7:22 am

“Electricity is now too unreliable in California.”

I’m sure the folks in San Bruno could teach you a thing or two about the reliability of gas.


28 people like this
Posted by BetterWithoutGas
a resident of Fairmeadow
on Nov 5, 2019 at 7:25 am

We won't stop climate change on our own, but every time we make a decision to not emit, we're reducing the amount of warming we eventually see. Palo Alto is in a position to show leadership, and we can expect the rest of the world to follow when we act early. Making the decision to not lock in decades of future emissions (or high costs when people are forced to retire heating systems and appliances early) is the right call.

Thank you to our representatives on city council for making this decision!


75 people like this
Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Nov 5, 2019 at 8:05 am

So how is all this extra electricity going to be generated?

With the more homes and businesses in the Bay Area and the increasing dependence on electricity due to electric vehicles, transportation, computers taking over from people, etc. etc. there have to be questions about how we are going to get all this electricity and how is it going to arrive in our homes.

Statewide we have high powered transmission lines dangling through areas of forest which are susceptible to fire. In suburban areas, we are still dangling the distribution lines through trees which are subject to mylar balloons (which can be banned), squirrels, seagulls, geese and birds (which cannot). In times of heavy rain or high winds, branches come down, trees come down, bringing power lines down.

Stating that electric power is "good" or "better" without looking into how the extra power is generated, where it will be generated, and how it will be distributed, is a pointless exercise.

Solar and wind farms are not going to be the main generating foundation of our power supply for a very long time.


61 people like this
Posted by Online Name
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Nov 5, 2019 at 8:09 am

Online Name is a registered user.

Palo Alto Utilities is already over-charging us by $20,000,000 and funneling that money into the General Fund. This is just another money grab and makes as much sense as passing an anti-idling law in a city already gridlocked. Have we given out an anti-idling ticket yet? Of course not.


16 people like this
Posted by BetterWithoutGas
a resident of Fairmeadow
on Nov 5, 2019 at 8:16 am

To people wondering where Palo Alto sources its electricty: it comes from solar, hydroelectric, wind, and a compost-to-electricity facility.

Details here:
Web Link


15 people like this
Posted by Anon
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Nov 5, 2019 at 8:59 am

Posted by Climate Justice Crusaders, a resident of Greendell/Walnut Grove

>> This is insane. Their rationale is once again, "climate change" but Palo Alto and Berkeley doing this alone ***literally*** won't do anything whatsoever to stop climate change. So its a symbolic gesture meant to try and influence every other city in California?

Nobody is going to turn off your gas any time soon. But, new all-electric developments can be constructed for less than new gas-provisioned developments, and, are more efficient. There are a number of newly-refined products based on heat-pumps that are extremely efficient.

>> For them to go forward with a mere virtue signaling gesture, in spite of the added costs

Please research this. New gas installations in new buildings are expensive. If you already have gas appliances and don't have the electrical capacity to support new electric appliances, an all-electric upgrade would be an added expense. But, starting from scratch, all-electric dwellings are very cost-effective.


17 people like this
Posted by BetterWithoutGas
a resident of Fairmeadow
on Nov 5, 2019 at 10:11 am

We're not alone with just Palo Alto and Berkeley. San Jose, Mountain View, and Menlo Park have all joined in. I expect the rest of California, the nation, and the world to follow suit once we demonstrate that this is painless.


21 people like this
Posted by Brian
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Nov 5, 2019 at 10:22 am

How about Palo Alto's utility work with other local utilities to save Diablo Canyon? If climate change is such an emergency, closing the state's largest and most reliable producer of GHG-free electricity seems like a bad idea.


12 people like this
Posted by Pat Burt
a resident of Community Center
on Nov 5, 2019 at 10:24 am

Pat Burt is a registered user.

As others have clarified, this action only applies to new construction where the costs of going all-electric from the outset are actually favorable.
In addition, despite providing a 100% carbon neutral power, Palo Alto's electricity rates are around 1/3 lower than PG&E while our methane natural gas supply is at or a bit above PG&E. Consequently, the cost effectiveness of building using today's electric heat pump systems is even more favorable than in most other cities.


9 people like this
Posted by Anon
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Nov 5, 2019 at 10:38 am

Posted by Resident, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood

>> So how is all this extra electricity going to be generated?

As a thought experiment, let's suppose that the electricity is going to be generated via a natural gas generating station. Sounds dumb to replace natural gas appliances that way, right?

>> Stating that electric power is "good" or "better" without looking into how the extra power is generated, where it will be generated, and how it will be distributed, is a pointless exercise.

Funny thing, though: -worst case-, it will be roughly equal in efficiency: expect end-to-end electricity generation to be about 30% efficient from CH4 to home electricity, end-to-end. "eia dot gov" has a lot of different numbers to comb through if you feel like it: Web Link . Now, consider a home heat pump. Overall efficiency in this climate is roughly 300%. 1/3 x 3 = 1 . IOW, worse-case, about equal. It gets a lot better from there. Some kinds of new power plants in some combined-cycle configurations could get up to 50% efficiency, and, newer versions can do CO2 capture. Overall, these plants are looking at 44-50% generation efficiency -with carbon capture- and with -low water usage- (a big deal). Web Link .

So, yes, it will be much better to do central electricity generation with all-electric homes, even from the same natural-gas as fuel.

What I'm worried about is what will happen when residential gas distribution becomes even more uneconomic than it is already, as people switch. I'm hoping that residential gas suppliers, like CPA Utilities, will start giving consumers subsidies of various kinds to switch off gas, and, start turning off gas block-by-block. The alternative will be that gas distribution will become very expensive and the poorest among us won't be able to afford either to switch or pay their gas bills. We need an organized plan to get households to turn off gas ASAP, in an orderly, economically viable way.


9 people like this
Posted by Anon
a resident of Midtown
on Nov 5, 2019 at 10:55 am

This city council came straight out of Chelm. Shoot us more in the feet please


8 people like this
Posted by Marc
a resident of Meadow Park
on Nov 5, 2019 at 11:06 am

@Charles Walters

By your logic we should stop using electricity since we have seen how many devastating fires it has caused. And stop driving automobiles due to the large number of deaths they cause

/marc


20 people like this
Posted by Grumpy Old Guy
a resident of Palo Alto Hills
on Nov 5, 2019 at 11:18 am

Wow. . .the mind boggles:

HAAh - HA! I guess our homes just became more valuable because we have gas appliances. (especially tank-less water heaters).




13 people like this
Posted by Bill
a resident of Ventura
on Nov 5, 2019 at 11:25 am

The whole thing is irrelevant, its not like Palo Alto allows new houses to be built anyway. Its just more b.s.that protects existing homeowners at the expense of the next generation who weren't lucky enough to be born into the landed nobility.


Like this comment
Posted by Anon
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Nov 5, 2019 at 11:27 am

Posted by Anon, a resident of Midtown

>> This city council came straight out of Chelm.

Referring to Allen Mandelbaum's conception? Inappropos. Your all-electric house, should you choose to build one, will be very practical.


23 people like this
Posted by Jonathan Brown
a resident of Ventura
on Nov 5, 2019 at 11:34 am

Jonathan Brown is a registered user.

I hope the Council has actually done its homework. Until a few years ago, natural gas was touted as cleaner, so why do we think things won't change again?

@Anon I did not see a comparison in your figures of an end-to-end efficiency/GHG emissions comparison between boiling 2 cups of water on a stove using natural gas vs. electricity generated from natural gas (taking into account the longer time it takes to heat with electric, the losses in electricity transmission, etc.). Do you have any such direct-comparison figures?

@BetterWithoutGas Your statement that Palo Alto uses only renewable sources to provide electricity is, at best, misleading. Listen carefully to the video here, Web Link, and you'll hear that "Carbon Neutral" means that Palo Alto still needs to purchase electricity from the market power grid when renewables aren't generating enough to meet demand (i.e., most nights). Palo Alto "offsets" these purchases by feeding renewables it buys back into the grid to claim "carbon neutrality." The uncomfortable truth is that we're not able to meet demand with renewables alone at this point in time. As Anon’s second link puts it, “Even under the most optimistic scenarios, there are going to be hundreds of fossil fuel power plants built across the world in coming years [that will] play an important role in "firming" the fluctuations in variable renewable energy.”

(BTW, BWG, Anon, consider using your real names to be taken more seriously. Misleading claims are more often hidden behind fake-name posts, so seeing a made-up name invites skepticism.).


47 people like this
Posted by Miriam Palm
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Nov 5, 2019 at 11:55 am

Miriam Palm is a registered user.

I am looking at my Oct. utility bill, and what do I see?

$89 for electricity
$36 for gas

I have a gas furnace, gas clothes dryer, gas water heater, and gas stove. Leave our cost-effective gas appliances alone!!


49 people like this
Posted by What Will They Do Next
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Nov 5, 2019 at 12:05 pm

What Will They Do Next is a registered user.

Berkeley wannabes ??? That's the last thing any rational thinking person would be desperate for. Berkeley is a laughing stock in most parts of the country. And as far as Palo Alto being in a leadership position to act early so the rest of the world can follow is preposterous. Sorry to burst your bubble, but most people in the world have no clue as to where Palo Alo is located, or care what Palo Alto thinks or does.


44 people like this
Posted by Dave Ross
a resident of Portola Valley
on Nov 5, 2019 at 12:08 pm

We have a gas furnace for heating our home, a gas oven & range and a gas water heater. Now we're thinking about adding a gas (or LP) generator so that we continue using electricity. Kind of ironic. If the gas gets turned off, I suppose we'll have to use the fireplace for heating and burn kerosene or beeswax for lighting.

This is not a criticism of the goal to reduce greenhouse gases - I'm all for it. I'm just struck by the irony of an unreliable delivery system provided by an electric utility company that, last year, was probably the biggest single source of carbon-based atmospheric pollution (from wildfires). It actually doesn't get any more ironic than this.

Is electricity really our savior?


25 people like this
Posted by Jen
a resident of Community Center
on Nov 5, 2019 at 12:12 pm

Natural gas is clean burning. How will the extra electricity be generated? "Clean" coal? Should we mandate it must be from the wind and solar?


39 people like this
Posted by resident
a resident of Midtown
on Nov 5, 2019 at 12:20 pm

Electrical rates for residential increase by nearly 50% once a residence uses more than 330kwh (from .13757 to .19367). By forcing a house to sole source their energy on electricity only instead of splitting between electric & gas, customers may end up with higher utility bills, higher utility taxes.

Is there "green" electricity capacity to replace natural gas? and if there were to happen, what would happen to the "green" electricity rates? (Higher demand for the same supply means electrical rates go up).


43 people like this
Posted by Online Name
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Nov 5, 2019 at 12:28 pm

Online Name is a registered user.

Miriam Palm's comment above underscores my point about how this is more of a ploy to siphon money out of our pockets through PAU and into the General Fund than a concern about being green. If we're already being over-charged by $20,000,000, how much will this amount increase?

If the city were so serious about greenhouse gases etc., they wouldn't be spending a fortune to narrow our roads and stick expensive barriers all over to CREATE more gridlock forcing us to waste MORE time idling in traffic spewing MORE pollutants -- and that's before ABAG and Weiner-Berman and the other pro-development groups force the Bay Area to absorb another 3,000,000 people in the next few years to service the ever-increasing number if offices.


11 people like this
Posted by Pat Burt
a resident of Community Center
on Nov 5, 2019 at 12:41 pm

Pat Burt is a registered user.

Despite the article and multiple posters being clear, many of the respondents seem to not recognize that the council actions only addressed "new construction", meaning new or fully re-constructed homes, apartments and offices. In those cases the developer will not have the dual expenses of electric and gas supply systems.
Others have questioned how the city gets its electricity currently. As noted above, Palo Alto gets its supply from solar, wind, hydroelectric and other non-GHG emitting resources, Web Link.
Going forward, the cost of new solar power in California is now the cheapest new energy source and it is lower cost than what we currently pay on average for electricity. Adding additional (renewable) electricity supplies for the new all electric buildings, as well as for electric vehicle charging, is comparatively low cost and getting cheaper each year.


2 people like this
Posted by Anon
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Nov 5, 2019 at 12:55 pm

Posted by Jonathan Brown, a resident of Ventura

>> @Anon I did not see a comparison in your figures of an end-to-end efficiency/GHG emissions comparison between boiling 2 cups of water on a stove using natural gas vs. electricity generated from natural gas (taking into account the longer time it takes to heat with electric, the losses in electricity transmission, etc.). Do you have any such direct-comparison figures?

Great question. I don't have a source with all the info in one place, but, I think a close-enough answer can be found here:

"A gas burner delivers only about 35 percent of its heat energy to the pot" . Web Link

So, the amount of gas used is around 285% of the energy in the pot. If we assume the previous ~1/3 end-to-end efficiency of electricity, then, a near-100% efficient electric kettle, or, I believe, induction-cooktop kettle, then, you are also looking at around 300%. It is about the same. OTOH, an old-style non-induction electric cooktop is only around 70% efficient, so. You would be using roughly 1.4 times the energy ~430%). I favor the electric kettle over either the gas cooktop or conventional electric cooktop.

I would favor the electric kettle for another reason-- less indoor air pollution compared to the gas cooktop.

I would also caution people that this is for new construction. There is sunk cost in your existing home gas appliances. The city is not going to cut off your gas tomorrow. And, there aren't a lot of new homes being built in Palo Alto, either. "Obviously." But, anyone considering a major remodel should talk to the city about converting to all-electric.



30 people like this
Posted by Mid-town Resident
a resident of St. Claire Gardens
on Nov 5, 2019 at 1:27 pm

City council members had their head buried in sands - you are not listening to residents. Electric ranges are not same in cooking as gas.

Are there study of effectiveness in emissions by gas range versus electricity generated by power plants?


6 people like this
Posted by anon
a resident of Evergreen Park
on Nov 5, 2019 at 1:40 pm

I believe the city does not by all clean electricity as we purchase a certain % of offsets....isnt this correct?


9 people like this
Posted by senor blogger
a resident of Palo Verde
on Nov 5, 2019 at 2:01 pm

If you want to effect climate change, Ban natural gas in Maylasia, et al. not here.
ps anybody want to buy a 6 burner electric stove?


33 people like this
Posted by John
a resident of Midtown
on Nov 5, 2019 at 2:22 pm

Climate warming alarmism has gabbed this city and other Bay Area cities by the throat. That's what brought us the high speed train fiasco. Solar and wind are NOT base load energy supplies. In this country we have an abundance of natural gas...let's use it!


34 people like this
Posted by BGordon
a resident of Midtown
on Nov 5, 2019 at 2:58 pm

BGordon is a registered user.

It doesn't seem like a good idea to increase our energy reliance on a single point of failure.


3 people like this
Posted by Anon
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Nov 5, 2019 at 3:06 pm

Posted by senor blogger, a resident of Palo Verde

>> ps anybody want to buy a 6 burner electric stove?

Induction cooktops are much more responsive than the old coil electric cooktops.


28 people like this
Posted by Online Name
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Nov 5, 2019 at 3:40 pm

Online Name is a registered user.

I'm curious who comes up with proposals like this. Someone please enlighten me because 1) it seems this will only push up the prices of new construction and 2) why didn't the city council work on something that would have had a more immediate REAL impact like requiring the use of school buses which would have the double benefit of reducing car traffic AND greenhouse gases.

Two, two wins in one.

Yes, I know the city and the school district are 2 separate entities as we've heard from all the candidates who promise to bridge the gap blah blah.

PS: Are kitchen remodels that would add gas stoves considered new construction and hence now forbidden? This is a serious question.


35 people like this
Posted by StupidSolution
a resident of College Terrace
on Nov 5, 2019 at 3:59 pm

This is a stupid solution.

The energy to heat/cook has to come from somewhere. Look here and see that in 2018 a full 47% of California's instate electric generation is from gas and 35% of California's power mix is from gas.

Now understand that heating with electric is much less efficient per degree celsius/cubic meter of water than heating with gas.

SO, more electric energy will be needed to heat homes and water than before. Its going to come from California's grid that has .

NET-NET Palo Alto all-electric homes will still burn gas, possibly more than before, at the electric producer end.

Disappointing.


17 people like this
Posted by StupidSolution
a resident of College Terrace
on Nov 5, 2019 at 4:00 pm

Link to electric production mix in California:

Web Link


25 people like this
Posted by Don't-Trust-The-Council
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Nov 5, 2019 at 4:07 pm

Claims that the council action only address "new construction" might be true for today .. but what about tomorrow, and the day after. Incrementalism is how massive change is forced on a population. Don't be surprised if within a 5-10 years that another council will be mandating retrofitting those homes with electricity that currently are using quite effectively natural gas. And, don't be surprised to see the cost of electricity continue to go up, and up and up! Moreover, there is no evidence that any of these changes will "save the planet".


4 people like this
Posted by Anon
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Nov 5, 2019 at 4:10 pm

Posted by Online Name, a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland

>> 1) it seems this will only push up the prices of new construction

New all-electric construction is about the same as electric+gas. Gas plumbing adds significant cost, while quality electric appliances are a bit more expensive. What has changed in the last decade is the new generation of heat-pump equipment (HVAC, domestic hot water), and induction cooktops.

>> 2) why didn't the city council work on something that would have had a more immediate REAL impact like requiring the use of school buses which would have the double benefit of reducing car traffic AND greenhouse gases.

You will have to discuss this with the school board, but, school buses depend on school bus drivers. It is difficult to find people around here who are qualified drivers who are available for school bus driving hours, at an affordable pay rate. One of the disadvantages of "silicon valley".

>> Are kitchen remodels that would add gas stoves considered new construction and hence now forbidden. This is a serious question.


You have an existing home that already is plumbed for gas? According to the article:

"The new mandates would not apply to existing homes and businesses. Rather, they target only newly constructed buildings."


17 people like this
Posted by StupidSolution
a resident of Barron Park
on Nov 5, 2019 at 4:23 pm

One more thing:

NET-NET Palo Alto homes will still burn gas, possibly more, at the producer end.

**AND** We'll get to pay more for a zero net change in gas consumption because we get to pay for an unnecessary gas->electricity conversion.


42 people like this
Posted by Another Giveaway
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Nov 5, 2019 at 5:37 pm

This gas ban is being pushed by a bunch of new-age puritans all competing with each other to gain social standing in their church by publicly proclaiming their devotion to the faith.

Listening to public comment at last night's city council meeting was like listening to a scene from a new-age remake of the "The Music Man". Natural gas! right here in River City!

Of course City Council will go along with this because it is party doctrine and through some combination of political jujitsu and flimflam will be use to justify increased utility rates and funneling even more cash into government coffers where it can be doled out to "incentivize" real-estate development.


30 people like this
Posted by chris
a resident of University South
on Nov 5, 2019 at 6:05 pm

The members of the council have an inflated sense of their self-importance.

We need some council members who are grounded in reality.


30 people like this
Posted by common sense
a resident of Midtown
on Nov 5, 2019 at 6:28 pm

Electrons are not identified as being from "green" sources or coal or gas. If Palo Alto uses more electricity that is green, it means some other city will be using more electricity generated by coal or natural gas.

For example, 14% of "electricity" in California is from solar. But at night, there is little or no solar electrical generation - how does the need get made up? from gas or coal plants. So if you charge your electrical car at night, it's not coming from solar.


13 people like this
Posted by Electricity beats gas
a resident of Midtown
on Nov 5, 2019 at 7:07 pm

Electricity beats gas is a registered user.

@commonsense is right. People in Palo Alto use grid electricity just like everyone else in California. (We are putting green power on the grid, though, which is great.)

That means these no-gas homes will burn gas (indirectly) which will produce greenhouse gases for a while, though less over time as the grid gets greener. I'm not sure what the point is, though. Studies show that these electric homes are cheaper to operate and produce fewer emissions than those with gas. Even on grid electricity, even when run at night and in winter.

Some people are concerned that that there will be a shortage of electricity. That is unlikely. Demand ramps up slowly, and the utilities watch it carefully. After the Enron mess, the state has done a decent job of ensuring supply (which btw is most strained on summer afternoons).

Some people seem worried that electricity is not as reliable as gas. That may be true, especially on windy days in the fall. So let's work on making the electric grid more reliable.

IMO this is a small step in the right direction, shifting our focus towards electric buildings and helping all of us in time to reduce our home's emissions.


32 people like this
Posted by Kenny
a resident of University South
on Nov 5, 2019 at 8:14 pm

Way to drive up utility bills, City Council! I have a better idea: Go for whatever option imposes the least cost on Palo Alto ratepayers. Trying to ram an ersatz Green New Deal down our throats is not a terribly good solution. Do they realize that natural gas powers many of our power plants?

You folks might find this website interesting: Web Link
And this: Web Link


24 people like this
Posted by Palo Alto Res
a resident of Downtown North
on Nov 5, 2019 at 8:25 pm

Palo Alto Res is a registered user.

So while Menlo Park reasonably allows single residential homes to still have gas and want multifamilies and large new constructions of apartment complexes to be all electrical, Palo Alto has gone the other way around. They demand single family home new constructions to be all electrical? Because they have a bigger footprint than large multifamily apartment complexes?

Nice way to pander to the developers while dinging the single family homeowner who will be purchasing or building new homes in Palo Alto.

How corrupt is the city council and how much are they in the pockets of big wig developers? How much more will they make the cost of living in Palo Alto the city exorbitant?

Why was this not a vote? Why are a few corrupt councilors deciding for the entire city. Unbelievable.
Bet they live in new homes with gas water tanks, gas heating, gas stoves and burners, and gas fireplaces.

We should institute a new city ordinance that any drastic changes the city councilors vote on and institute for the regular Palo Alto resident, they too must trial out in their home first. Change their homes to all electric and see how much they enjoy the large electrical bills and slow electrical stove burners and electrical fireplaces.


18 people like this
Posted by Anonymous27
a resident of Midtown
on Nov 5, 2019 at 8:36 pm

I know this may be the most insane idea ever, but if the city truly wants to encourage electricity use and discourage gas use, change the prices of electricity and gas and call it a day. If electricity is significantly more cost effective, people will switch. Those who highly value natural gas for whatever reason, will pay the premium.


5 people like this
Posted by WestVoci
a resident of Community Center
on Nov 5, 2019 at 9:18 pm

Let's see: Approximately 4% of natural gas is lost from well head to home
Methane is about 100 times better at capturing heat than CO2 in a 20 year time frame
Methane is about 30 times better at capturing heat than CO2 in a 100 year time frame
25% of Green House Gas comes from burning methane in California
Concentration of methane in the atmosphere has increased 250% since the pre-industrial era
800,000 years ago was the last time the earth had this concentration of methane
So what do you think: maybe, just maybe, it might be a good idea to cut back a bit?


35 people like this
Posted by Chris Zaharias
a resident of another community
on Nov 5, 2019 at 9:54 pm

I moved from PA to south of France last year. When I tell people here in Provence that Palo Altans have huge homes, travel a ton, waste massive amounts of food, own multiple cars (and oftentimes homes), yet somehow think they're being part of the "solution", boy do the French laugh.

They laugh at this combination of hubris, self-deceipt and insincere environmentalism--as well they should.

Did you know that the 97% consensus is hogwash? What Cook et al. found was *not* that 97% of climate scientists thought global warming was caused by humans, but merely that they thought humans *contribute to global warming*. When my dogs pass gas, they also contribute to global warming. Cook et al. *did not attempt to assess to what extent humans contribute to global warming.* This is a huge distinction, of course, because the casual statements in the media and most public policy discourse would lead the average person to believe that 97% of scientists who have published on climate change think that humans are the main drivers of global warming. And yet, at least if we review the original Cook et al. (2013) paper that kicked off the talking point, what they actually found was that of the sampled papers on climate change, only one-third of them expressed a view about its causes, and then of that subset, 97% agreed that humans were at least one cause of climate change. This would be truth-in-advertising, something foreign in the political discussion to which all AGW issues now seem to descend.


14 people like this
Posted by Eric Filseth
a resident of Downtown North
on Nov 5, 2019 at 10:04 pm

Most of the discussion here has been on natural gas, in relation to Palo Alto's carbon-neutral electricity supply, which is important. Yet people shouldn’t overlook another seminal building-code step we took last night that got much less fanfare, yet could in principle have a comparable level of GHG impact.

As part of the earlier item 9A, the council mandated what I’m pretty sure is the State’s first-ever “home-charging ready” ordinance for EV’s in apartment buildings and other multi-family residences; that is, to require pre-wiring so that every individual housing unit can install its own EV charger, and not just a few shared ones for the building.

That’s a big deal. By far the most prevalent EV use-model is home-charging: plug in when you get home, unplug in the morning. That’s problematic if you live in an apartment building: while nothing stops you from buying a charger, getting it wired to your building mains is complicated. Yet without your own charger, you have to rely on the availability of shared chargers, either at work or home. Many people are reluctant to do that, and most EV adoption in Palo Alto has been in the 60% of households who control their own wiring; that is, single-family homes.

Yet even with that limitation, already 1 in 3 new cars registered in Palo Alto is an EV. Removing the “home-charging” obstacle for the other 40% of residences, which item 9A essentially did last night, should come close to doubling the local market for EV’s. Which also includes most new residences, since nearly all new housing construction in the mid-peninsula nowadays is multi-unit.

Switching to an EV saves roughly 3X as much CO2 equivalent (~4.6MT/yr) as switching a residence to electric space and water heating (~1.5MT/yr in Northern CA, per Rocky Mountain Institute). So if the current 1-in-3 EV adoption rate holds (which itself is produced by just ~60% of households, so the real rate is presumably higher than that), then the net GHG impact could become roughly comparable to requiring all-electric new residential construction -- which was item 9B.

Certainly there’s a lot of hand-waving in there. As with fuel-switching, the ordinance applies to new construction which means the impact will be over time. But transportation still constitutes a major source of the City’s remaining emissions; the home-charging-in-apartments clause merits consideration too.


16 people like this
Posted by Eric Filseth
a resident of Downtown North
on Nov 5, 2019 at 10:08 pm

@Anonymous27 - "if the city truly wants to encourage electricity use and discourage gas use, change the prices of electricity and gas and call it a day"

I agree with you. Alas, state law drastically limits our ability to do that.


13 people like this
Posted by Steve
a resident of Evergreen Park
on Nov 6, 2019 at 12:25 am

When we rebuilt our house in 2010. I did my own analysis and decided that all electric was the way to go in terms of carbon footprint, efficiency and health. I like to think that I pioneered the modern all-electric house in Palo Alto. :-)

We super insulated our house: it stays at 65F in the winter with just a little bit of help from a couple of electric space heaters. We have no furnace. We installed a heat pump water heater, an induction cook top, solar panels, and bought an electric car. Of course, it was easy to not use gas when reconnecting our rebuilt house to gas network would have cost $6000.

My wife, previously a fan of gas cook top, loves our induction cook top. She will never go back to gas because induction is so much cleaner in every way and removes a huge source of indoor pollutants (i.e. even with a powerful exhaust fan, a major source of bad indoor air is gas combustion).


16 people like this
Posted by Resident
a resident of College Terrace
on Nov 6, 2019 at 5:03 am

That's great Steve, and you did this voluntarily. I'm not sure why the city wants to force the same on everyone else. An outright ban could have some costly consequences, so maybe the true reason they're doing this is not climate change, but personal financial incentive.


23 people like this
Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Nov 6, 2019 at 6:42 am

Charge at home! Yet so many new homes do not have enough offstreet parking!

How can the Council be both build the wiring into each parking space, and they won't have cars so don't need parking be said with straight faces?

Words fail me.


25 people like this
Posted by StupidSolution
a resident of Barron Park
on Nov 6, 2019 at 9:03 am

Palo Alto would be better off encouraging and supporting the planting of lots more trees. Every median, at all of our schools (they need more shade for the kids), out by the baylands.

How about planting trees all down El Camino - both sides and the median. Up and down Page Mill/Oregon.

Why is midtown so tree-less when compared to Old Palo Alto? Fix that.


9 people like this
Posted by Anon
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Nov 6, 2019 at 9:17 am

Posted by Resident, a resident of College Terrace

>> That's great Steve, and you did this voluntarily. I'm not sure why the city wants to force the same on everyone else.

The high cost of plumbing and connecting gas. Most people who have looked at total costs have found that the initial cost is about the same. Gas connectivity costs more money up front. The electrical HVAC equipment and appliances, heat-pump heating/hot-water and induction cooktop, etc., cost more than the gas equivalents. The result is roughly the same cost in the end.

The city is not forcing people already on gas to disconnect. It is going to stop making new residential gas connections.

But, you should realize that at some point in the coming decades, many residential gas networks are going to get turned off because they won't be economic to operate any more as more people go all-electric. Gas distribution requires customer density to be affordable to maintain. So, the utilities will have to find a way to manage the downsizing of the distribution system.



25 people like this
Posted by Resident
a resident of College Terrace
on Nov 6, 2019 at 10:20 am

Still, it doesn't mean we need to BAN natural gas. The ban is not objective in any way. If something isn't objective then a sweeping, arbitrary BAN is inappropriate. The city is really just favoring one vendor over another, which raises the suspicion that this isn't about climate change, but about special interests.


2 people like this
Posted by Carl Jones
a resident of Palo Verde
on Nov 6, 2019 at 10:59 am

Carl Jones is a registered user.

@Anon
My compliments to you for your (1) information/data/links, (2) focus on the topic, (3) restrained replies.

I'd be interested in (a) the type/frequency/criticality of required gas maintenance, (b) the time frame in which the maintenance costs will exceed the declining gas usage revenue, (c) the likelihood (and length of time) that gas delivery would be run at a loss in order to cover continued usage, and by what percentage of PA Utility customers?

Not expecting answers, but these are questions that need to be factored into the equations going forward. These questions affect existing gas users.

And remember, people, this is not a ban on existing gas usage.


9 people like this
Posted by Fact check.
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Nov 6, 2019 at 11:01 am

Fact check. is a registered user.

What's really clear is that more than half of the posters here have not done homework to understand today's electric technology for residential use.

Example: New induction ranges are fast and responsive. I love to cook so, encouraged by European cooks who had made the switch, I carefully researched options and I chose induction over gas when I remodeled my kitchen eight years ago. I am very happy with the result. Today's induction ranges are great!

Mayor Filseth and former Mayor Burt are correct in their comments about Palo Alto's sustainable electric sources. I wish some members of the public would do their homework before they spout off in a public forum. There is a lot of misinformation in this thread.

Gennady, I think it would be great if the upcoming print version of this article would clarify some of the many misunderstandings in this thread. It seems that many people do not understand:
--How PAU sources electricity and what that means for locally generated GHG emissions
--Current state of residential electric appliances technology which has advanced well beyond what most of the people on this thread seem to understand.

By providing better up-to-date information, the Weekly can help us understand the changes we can make that will create a sustainable future for our children and grandchildren.

Thanks for keeping us informed.


20 people like this
Posted by WOW
a resident of Community Center
on Nov 6, 2019 at 1:21 pm

Gas is used in our home to cook, dry our clothes, heat the home and supplement our pool solar heating (which allows us to infrequently heat up our Jacuzzi).

I am feeling very luck I recently completed my construction considering this god awful change.

Clothes dryers that run on gas are significantly more efficient than electric ones. So are pool heaters that run on gas (used to supplement pool solar - not on their own).

It's not clear this is the best way to improve the air quality. I imagine real investment in transportation infrastructure would do far more. Like doubling the shuttle routes etc etc.


16 people like this
Posted by Mad Max
a resident of Ventura
on Nov 6, 2019 at 1:46 pm

Palo Alto gets electricity from renewable sources as much as it gets the air we breathe form the Amazon Rainforest. Unless you think there is a direct power line from these clean generation sources straight to our city...


5 people like this
Posted by Anon
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Nov 6, 2019 at 2:24 pm

Posted by Mad Max, a resident of Ventura

>> Palo Alto gets electricity from renewable sources as much as it gets the air we breathe form the Amazon Rainforest. Unless you think there is a direct power line from these clean generation sources straight to our city...

Sorry I don't understand your reasoning. You are correct that there is no way to label the electrons. Electric energy is fed into a common grid in several locations, and then, pulled out of the grid at the entry point to CPAU. With 60 Hz alternating current, most electrons are going to stay pretty close to home-- within a millimeter or so, IIRC -- despite the large energy flow over hundreds of miles. That is how AC grids work.

And? We purchase renewables according to their use, and, the renewables reduce GHG emissions. The more renewable energy we purchase, the GHGs are reduced. That is exactly how it is supposed to work. I don't see a problem just because we aren't using electrons that originated in our renewable sources far away.


Posted by WOW, a resident of Community Center

>> Gas is used in our home to cook,

The amount of energy used to cook is normally pretty small compared to other uses. Just thought I would mention that cooking with gas has a problem with indoor air pollution.

Web Link
Web Link

That is one reason why many people who can do it are switching to induction cooktops.


17 people like this
Posted by Dan
a resident of Midtown
on Nov 6, 2019 at 3:27 pm

Switching to induction cooktops is fine if that is what you want to do. That is different than forcing others to do it by law. I like my gas cooking, but not religiously so... still I wouldn't advocate passing a law saying that you can't use your beloved induction cooktop because I think a gas stove is far superior cooking experience. With the recently demonstrated reliability of our electrical distribution system ... wouldn't want to be entirely dependent on electrical service for cooking and heating. I am pretty sure that the last couple of years worth of electrically sparked fires put more GHG into the atmosphere than residential gas cooking/heating in SFHs and certainly contributed more to poor air quality. I guess they still won't be able to stop you from having a propane cooktop using tanks (sure there is probably some building code/permit they could use to stop it, but city would never know since they can't yet see inside private residences. Don't see much hope for the future in preserving freedom from government control over all aspects of our lives if people give up their freedoms so easily.


16 people like this
Posted by John
a resident of Midtown
on Nov 6, 2019 at 3:37 pm

Please tell me why we are hung up on GHG and global warming? It is based on computer models by the IPPC that don't prove out, when tested against previous real data. Where does this alarmism come from?


4 people like this
Posted by Anon
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Nov 6, 2019 at 3:52 pm

Posted by Dan, a resident of Midtown

>> Switching to induction cooktops is fine if that is what you want to do. That is different than forcing others to do it by law.

It applies to new construction only. Nobody is forcing people to remove their existing gas service and appliances.

And, AFAIK, you aren't required to have a utility hookup at all. I think that you are allowed to live off of your solar panels. And, of course, lots of people barbecue using propane.


Posted by Carl Jones, a resident of Palo Verde

>> I'd be interested in [a, b, c]

Good questions. I don't have immediate answers, although I did find some references that make me think that the approximate density utilities are looking for is order of magnitude one dwelling per acre or every 250 feet or so of gas main. I also note that the maintenance burden is likely to be a lot lower with the current HDPE polyethylene pipe that doesn't break all the time with ground movement and settling. Palo Alto was phasing that in; I'm not sure if it is citywide at this point. IOW, if the pipe is safer and longer-lasting, lower-cost maintenance will mean that the required customer density is likely going to be lower.

==

Just in case anyone missed it, the bottom line is, "new construction".


22 people like this
Posted by Dan
a resident of Midtown
on Nov 6, 2019 at 4:11 pm

"It applies to new construction only. Nobody is forcing people to remove their existing gas service and appliances. "

B.S. new construction is just step 1. Then they will find it doesn't make much difference so they will go to "remodels valued over $100,000" ... "remodels valued over $10,000". Next they will say "oh ... not enough gas utility users, need to jack up rates to cover fixed costs" , etc. etc, etc.

bottom line is more encroaching on freedom/choice without sufficient justification.


14 people like this
Posted by Resident
a resident of College Terrace
on Nov 6, 2019 at 4:25 pm

^^^
Also if you wanted to build a new unit in your backyard, I'm sure they would get their hands all over your private property and artificially jack up the costs with endless, endless regulations...


10 people like this
Posted by Eric Filseth
a resident of Downtown North
on Nov 6, 2019 at 5:46 pm

Well … at risk of adding even more fossil fuel to this topic, I think we all ought to look at it as follows. I am a believer in the old Intel Plan-of-Record ("POR") mantra: “the POR is the POR, until there’s a new POR.”

Right now the Plan of Record is “80/30:” an 80% reduction in GHG emissions (relative to 1990 levels) by 2030. Your elected Council voted on it and adopted it four or five years ago. At that time, the counter-argument (among those of us who do believe in human-made climate change) was essentially: “there will be social tradeoffs to this -- how can we responsibly vote for 80/30 before we know what those tradeoffs will be?” Considering Palo Alto’s own finite impact on global emissions, that’s a legitimate question. The council did indeed weigh it against the gravity of the problem, and ultimately decided to proceed with 80/30. So 80/30 is the POR.

We are now where the rubber hits the road -- implementing the specific actions, including their social tradeoffs, that will achieve 80/30. In order to execute that, we have to cut a lot of GHG out of the City’s remaining carbon footprint. That footprint (Staff has a much more detailed breakdown in the Staff Report) is now roughly 60% Transportation, 30% Natural Gas heating and cooking, and 10% landfill and other miscellaneous emissions, including a bit from retiring the sewage incinerator earlier this year.

Basically, 80/30 can’t be reached without eliminating most or all natural gas usage in town, and replacing it with carbon-neutral electricity. So in my mind the pivotal question is not, “how does induction cooking compare with gas?” but, “should we change the POR?”

That’s not a facetious question. In the last few years, the City Council has occasionally been accused, sometimes with substance, of “late-night head-shot” decisions. That said, I don’t believe 80/30 was one of those -- I was there, and I think we took it quite seriously. My own belief is that a majority of Palo Alto residents continue to support 80/30. But if that ever becomes not the case, then it’s our responsibility to revisit it. The POR is the POR, until there’s a new POR.

So what I’d summarize on this topic is (1) we indeed ought to check in every once in awhile that the 80/30 POR is still correct; and (2) all us residents need to keep demanding our councils make wise and carefully-considered decisions on items like this, that have very long-term implications for the Community, and not just go with the flow of whatever the hot-button issue of the moment is.


29 people like this
Posted by Another Giveaway
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Nov 6, 2019 at 6:54 pm

The new-age puritan zealots pushing this GHG puritanism are not going to be satisfied with just a ban on gas in new construction. They are not going to stop until all competitors to electricity are driven out of business and there is no alternative to electricity for residential power.

The recent effort by political elites in San Francisco and San Jose to buy out the electrical gird in their cities has to make one suspicious that this is all part of a coordinated plan to create government run electrical power monopolies by using legislation to drive natural gas suppliers out of business.

The high functioning grifters behind these GHG puritans operating at the local level probably own shares in wind farms and natural gas powered electrical plants in Nevada.


4 people like this
Posted by Steve
a resident of Evergreen Park
on Nov 6, 2019 at 8:26 pm

@Fact Check is correct. People are not aware of the increased efficiency of electric appliances.

With the integration of "heat pumps" into appliances, electric appliances are significantly more efficient than ones that run directly on fossil fuels. Go to Energy Star web site. Heat pump water heaters are in close to 2.5 times more efficient than gas ones. Heat pumps furnaces are also more efficient. Heat pump pool heaters are more efficient. Heat pump clothes dryer (which are hard to find in the US but common in Europe) can be five times more efficient that a gas powered clothes dryer.

The reason for this is simple. Moving/Pumping heat is more efficientthan burning something to generate heat. When you burn gas, a significant portion of the energy is lost in exhaust heat, and you definitely want to exhaust when you burn.

It's true that source point efficiency (i.e. power plant to use) for electric appliances will depend on the nature of the electric grid. The electric grid is getting cleaner over time, and so going all electric is a double win.

I saw this trend of more efficient electric appliances coming 10 years ago, and switched to all electric. While I think imposing all-electric requirement on new construction is perhaps not the most elegant way to effect this change, it is necessary to offset the power of the fossil fuel lobby. Unlike others, I don't think they are evil, they're just doing their fiduciary duty for their stock holders. But we must recognize that that fiduciary duty is misaligned with the needs of the planet, and we need to counteract.

The simplest way to go all electric is to just put a heavy tax on carbon but as @Eric Filseth said, that isn't doable in our political environment.






25 people like this
Posted by Capitalist
a resident of Atherton
on Nov 7, 2019 at 9:52 am

80/30 POR does not measure complete impact of Palo Alto residents. It is one set of calculations that measures what happened to be included at the time, but it is irrelevant as it in no way captures the complete impact of Palo Alto and its residents. How many Palo Alto residents fly on private planes. What is the impact of the Palo Alto airport. What about the impact of products and services provided by Palo Alto companies. How about the impact of Gotts selling hamburgers? Hiding behind 80/30 as POR as reason for policy of eliminating individual choice to have a natural gas stove or generator is just an excuse for poor policy and overreach by city council to pursue their own agendas. If electric is cheaper and better, let the consumer decide, not the City Council .
What next city council? Are you going to tell me what I can eat?


25 people like this
Posted by Rick
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Nov 7, 2019 at 11:22 am

I swear, Palo Alto is going to turn this died-in-the-wool liberal into a Donald Trump voter!


Like this comment
Posted by Anon
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Nov 7, 2019 at 12:16 pm

Posted by Another Giveaway, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood

>> The new-age puritan zealots pushing this GHG puritanism

“Puritanism: The haunting fear that someone, somewhere, may be happy.” -- H.L. Mencken

Giveaway, I'm kind of confused. Do you really think that using fossil fuels in particular contributes to your happiness? I would have thought that as long as you weren't freezing in the dark, it wouldn't matter whether the energy required was electricity or gas. "Enlighten" me.

>> are not going to be satisfied with just a ban on gas in new construction. They are not going to stop until all competitors to electricity are driven out of business and there is no alternative to electricity for residential power.

I'm not splitting hairs, here: nobody wants you -to use electricity-. Maybe your home combines passive solar and solar cells and batteries and you don't need any kind of external energy source. That's good. The goal here is eventually to stop producing GHGs, so, you are 100% correct about that part. What time frame would make you more comfortable with that? Would rebates of some kind help?

>> government run electrical power monopolies by using legislation to drive natural gas suppliers out of business.

Both CPAU and PG&E are monopolies; both supply gas and electricity. One monopoly is government-controlled, the other is a regulated private monopoly. In recent decades, PG&E has made a great case -against- private, regulated monopolies. It sounds like you want to require people to use gas. Why? It is the same monopoly either way.

>> The high functioning grifters behind these GHG puritans operating at the local level probably own shares in wind farms and natural gas powered electrical plants in Nevada.

I'm not sure if you think this is actually making an argument. All it does is detract from whatever argument you were trying to make.

Posted by Rick, a resident of Adobe-Meadow

>> I swear, Palo Alto is going to turn this died-in-the-wool liberal into a Donald Trump voter!

Because ... ?


17 people like this
Posted by Sophie888
a resident of another community
on Nov 7, 2019 at 7:56 pm

The politicians want to force people to use electricity instead of gas, which is twice expensive than gas. So that they can save PG&E.


4 people like this
Posted by Oh My
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Nov 8, 2019 at 6:27 am

No Sophie. You're wildly mistaken.


14 people like this
Posted by Fact check
a resident of Greater Miranda
on Nov 8, 2019 at 1:33 pm

The pressure to go all electric for existing residences is slightly off topic, I guess, but it really irks me. I have lived in Palo Alto long enough to remember a time, not that far back, when the city pressured us to switch from electric water heaters, dryers and other appliances, to gas ones to help the environment. This is true, I am not inventing it. My spouse and I dutifully followed that advice at the time and now have gas water heater, furnace, dryer and cooktop. Now we are being shamed into reversing this. It is crazy-making, sorry, even though I believe in helping the environment.


5 people like this
Posted by Anon
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Nov 8, 2019 at 3:26 pm

Posted by Fact check, a resident of Greater Miranda

>> The pressure to go all electric for existing residences is slightly off topic, I guess, but it really irks me. I have lived in Palo Alto long enough to remember a time, not that far back, when the city pressured us to switch from electric water heaters, dryers and other appliances, to gas ones to help the environment. This is true, I am not inventing it.

I'm afraid my brain cells did not retain the exact sequence of events regarding incentives for gas, but, I'm guessing that it had something to do with the "crisis". That is, the Enron-created "crisis" of 2000-2001. I won't bore folks with all the details of that debacle, but, from Wikipedia, Web Link,

"California had an installed generating capacity of 45 GW. At the time of the blackouts, demand was 28 GW. A demand-supply gap was created by energy companies, mainly Enron, to create an artificial shortage. "

That fraud cost Palo Alto dearly. I do not recall the time sequence how these things rolled out, but, I think some of the items made a lot of short-term sense. Instant gas hot water heaters, for example, that sometimes greatly reduced usage, and bills, by small/low-load families. And, if a smaller amount of natural gas (relatively low-carbon) is displacing coal-fueled power-plant electricity, it is a big win relative to GHG emissions.

>> My spouse and I dutifully followed that advice at the time and now have gas water heater, furnace, dryer and cooktop. Now we are being shamed into reversing this. It is crazy-making, sorry, even though I believe in helping the environment.

Two things have changed:

1) A much greater awareness on the part of everyone with regard to climate change. (Yes, even some CPAUtil folks may not have been that aware.)

2) A new generation of heat-pump based appliances that are vastly more efficient, and allow people to significantly reduce their energy usage.

If you feel that you are being shamed, please allow me to apologize on behalf of all of "us" who favor this new all-electric approach. Shame isn't the goal. Appliances don't last forever, especially gas-fired hot water heaters. I think what "we" are asking is for those who need to replace heaters, to switch to -modern- heat-pump-based, highly-efficient hot water heaters for example. Many appliances don't last that long. Hot water heaters, and even ranges, can be disappointingly short-lived in my recent experience. So, the idea is to start preparing now for an all-electric future.


13 people like this
Posted by alternativethoughts
a resident of Los Altos
on Nov 8, 2019 at 7:52 pm

I find the "no gas" perspective somewhat amazing. 43% of California's electric power comes from natural gas, not the electricity fairy. Imported electric power...about half is from natural gas or nuclear, again, not the electricity fairy. For those that believe Palo Alto only uses socially acceptable non-gas electrons for their electric power, please let me know how those electrons zipping along the power lines know to go to your house and not your neighbors. But alas, I know some of you are dedicated "Zero Emissions" Tesla drivers and have bought into to fairy dream and advertising sales pitch. While better at emissions than oil, the emissions created to energize your "zero emissions" vehicle is just dumped in someone else's back yard.

Having a dual service option makes sense. Wire/pipe for both electricity and gas and let the homeowner choose. Mandating is a mistake. Efforts to combat global warming are positive and must continue but they also need to be rational and realistic. Just be prepared for no energy of any sort at the next PGE blackout.

Then again, why stop with banning natural gas? How about banning lawns and foliage based on pesticide, fertilizer and water usage. Ban all diesel trucks. Ban all freighters entering SF bay as they are the number one contributor to that brown haze you breathe every day... diesel. Ban asphalt roads and, yes, all tires! Where does the residue from tire wear goes? Think about it. Ban airports and their jet fumes. Ban internal combustion engines of any size. Ban bar-b-ques. Instead of being "better" at using what we have, lets return to the stone ages.

There are rational limits to everything.


2 people like this
Posted by Anonymous
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Nov 8, 2019 at 8:14 pm

I currently have a gas cooktop that I love.
Anyone want to hazard a guesstimate what it would cost me to replace it with the induction style cooktop and pay to connect to electrical (can I just plug into a nearby outlet underneath? Do I need a new circuit breaker?) and what is labor for this likely to cost PLUS must one get a permit from the City of Palo Alto? (I am guessing so, another cost and hurdle to get over with most prospective contractors, sigh).
Thanks if anyone can give me info. on this (at this point, for the sake of curiosity!)
BTW, many contractors try hard to persuade one: oh, no you don’t need a permit! Or: YOU can go get it! It’s a real, annoying problem.
Ha.


18 people like this
Posted by Curmudgeon
a resident of Downtown North
on Nov 8, 2019 at 10:02 pm

Our electric power is not carbon-free. As prior posters have indicated, Palo Alto receives its electricity from the grid; what we use is what comes to us on the grid. Although the city "buys" its electricity from wind farms in the Delta, or solar arrays in the Antelope Valley, or pays others to generate wind/solar power in even more distant realms, we consume our electricity from the same generators as Menlo Park and Mountain View and Woodside and Atherton and Los Altos and ... . We are as electro-"dirty" as our neighbors.

Ironically, home electricity usage peaks at night when that solar power ain't and the wind dies, and natural gas generators fire up to fill the demand. But their electric energy output is less than 40% of the energy released from burning the gas. 60% of the gas is wasted and the carbon released burning it goes for nothing. Electric heaters and electric stoves bring that energy waste and carbon excess right home. But burning that same gas in a modern home furnace delivers 75% of its energy directly to its purpose. Likewise for a gas cooking range.

So one must wonder why total electrification is such a good thing. It seems our city has fooled itself into taking a giant step backward on climate change mitigation.


1 person likes this
Posted by Anon
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Nov 9, 2019 at 1:52 pm

Posted by Anonymous, a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis

>> I currently have a gas cooktop that I love.
>> Anyone want to hazard a guesstimate what it would cost me to replace it with the induction style cooktop

I see that Home Depot is selling Frigidaire 4 element induction cooktops for $719, Model # FFIC3026TB. I see one unit for $445, but, I never heard of "Empava" before. As you note, installation is not included. If you want to go with a higher-end unit, prices seem to be in the $1700-$2000 range.

>> and pay to connect to electrical (can I just plug into a nearby outlet underneath? Do I need a new circuit breaker?) and what is labor for this likely to cost

Costs vary so wildly depending on what you have now that the only way to answer these questions is with an estimate from a licensed electrical contractor.

As was noted in the original article, the "mandate" part is for new construction. From what I have seen, the total cost of new construction is likely to be cheaper with all-electric. But, for a conversion, you have sunk cost in gas already, and the conversion will cost more, with savings over time (as well as reduced GHGs).


4 people like this
Posted by StupidSolution
a resident of Barron Park
on Nov 11, 2019 at 12:58 pm

Unless Palo ALto installs its own solar farm or run its own hydro plant, Palo Alto's electricity mix will always be same as everyone else on California's grid.

So when Palo Alto utilities say our electricity is 100% renewable, what they are saying is that Palo Alto is paying the renewable suppliers. It does not say that 100% of what Palo Alto consumes is renewable. Our electricity draws from California's grid - which is still powered in the majority by natural gas.

When Palo Alto pays for 100% renewable energy to hydro/solar/wind suppliers, the benefit is spread over the entire state of California and then to the entire planet. But it is spread so thin that the benefit will not matter at all.

In fact, if Palo Alto pays a single-cent over the rate paid by the average Californian, then we are foolishly subsidizing them at direct expense to us.
The economic principle at play here is "Tragedy of the Commons". It is well studied and well understood.

The natural gas ban is entirely the foolish errand: kind of like getting your neighbor to lose weight by skipping meals. Consider this article about air conditioning the outdoors. I'll give you one guess what energy source is being used:

Web Link

"To survive the summer heat, Qatar not only air-conditions its soccer stadiums, but also the outdoors — in markets, along sidewalks, even at outdoor malls so people can window shop with a cool breeze."

The Tragedy of the Commons with regard to global greenhouse gas emissions is an inescapable accounting identity. It doesn't really matter anymore where the emissions occur.

I am troubled that in our tiny little city, we're restricting our citizens right to burn gas, while across the planet, others are burning it air condition the outdoors. Our tiny little subtraction will do nothing.

California's electric grid requires a state wide solution and I'm glad that the state is trying. Similarly, global greenhouse gas emissions require a global solution for it to any meaningful difference.

Little actions aren't going to cut it.

I wish the city would concentrate on problems where it could actually make a meaningful difference on the lives of local citizens. 1) Integrate with PAUSD to provide bussing for students to reduce the number of drop off/pickup trips at schools. This would solve a problem for parents and reduce emissions. 2) Plant trees. More shade, carbon sequestriation, lower temperatures.

And the hardest for this city: do the heavy political lifting of turning some streets to bike/walk only during certain hours or for emergency/delivery vehicles only.

Focus on problems that we can solve and make a difference for our citizens. Demand our state and national leaders solve problems at the state and global level.



Like this comment
Posted by Anon
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Nov 11, 2019 at 4:05 pm

Posted by StupidSolution, a resident of Barron Park

>> Unless Palo ALto installs its own solar farm or run its own hydro plant, Palo Alto's electricity mix will always be same as everyone else on California's grid.

I don't know why this argument keeps making the rounds, but, it doesn't add up. Nobody ever claimed that the electrons produced by generators were the same electrons running your motors. Everybody knows the electrons don't have labels and move millimeters, not kilometers. The electric grid is a kind of very short-term energy "bank". Power in, power out. Dollars in, dollars out. Bank dollars don't need "labels" either; it is a bank.

>> So when Palo Alto utilities say our electricity is 100% renewable, what they are saying is that Palo Alto is paying the renewable suppliers. It does not say that 100% of what Palo Alto consumes is renewable. Our electricity draws from California's grid - which is still powered in the majority by natural gas.

Nevertheless, when 100% of the power into the grid is coal-free, then the energy-bank will be 100% coal-free. It almost is now. When 100% of the power in becomes renewable, then, the energy-bank will be completely renewable. We have made significant progress already.

>> The natural gas ban is entirely the foolish errand: kind of like getting your neighbor to lose weight by skipping meals.

Actually, some of our neighbors are on a fossil-fuel diet, too: we all are. Menlo Park, Palo Alto, Mountain View, San Jose, Berkeley, are all in some stage of the residential phase out. I expect the entire state to do so by 2030. If that bothers you, please explain why.

>> I am troubled that in our tiny little city, we're restricting our citizens right to burn gas, while across the planet, others are burning it air condition the outdoors. Our tiny little subtraction will do nothing.

You seem to be presuming that burning huge amounts of natural gas must be "good for Qatar". Since most of developed Qatar is under the 100-foot elevation mark, I guess they think they will ultimately be cooling it all off when it is underwater. Burning as much natural gas as possible is a strange arms race.


7 people like this
Posted by StupidSolution
a resident of Barron Park
on Nov 11, 2019 at 7:34 pm

@anon above:

First let me be clear: I believe the science with regard to man made climate change is clear. I believe that due to the political nature of the IPCC, scientists are out rosier projections than their data suggest. We're going to see the effects earlier and more serious than officially projected. Like all concerned citizens, I want to see real meaningful action to address this at a global scale.

With that in mind, let me clarify: it is misleading for any entity connected to California's electric grid (Palo Alto, MP, MV, SJ, Berkeley, etc.) to claim that they're running 100% renewable electricity. Palo Alto's power mix is the same as everyone else's power mix in California.

California ISO has awesome website with near real time data online. Check it out here: Web Link

At 6:30pm today, California is running on 47.4% natural gas and 5.5% renewable with 32% of electricity mported. The natural gas component of this imported 32% is not broken down. If it were half natural gas, then 47.4% + 16% would equal 63% natural gas. This is the same mix that is being sent to Palo Alto and all California communities, regardless of whether they claim 100% renewable or not.

It is fabulous that we've dropped coal as a source of fuel for generators. But how do we drop natural gas without a quantum leap in battery technology? Solar production not only zeroes out at night, it also drops in the winter with reduced sunlight overall. There is no cheap, safe, reliable, high density storage medium available to provide power at grid scale when renewable sources drop. Current solutions like pumped hydro (effectively using a dam as a battery - pump up water during the day, release the water across a generator at night) cannot scale.

Unfortunately, it doesn't matter what Palo Alto or the State of California mandates. At grid scale, any solution that will be live in 10 years would have all the science and technology well established by now. It doesn't exist. California's 24/7/365 power demand cannot be met with renewables using current technology. Nuclear is not viable politically.

Most electric vehicle owners plug in their cars at night to charge for the next day. At night, California's power mix is dominated by natural gas fired electrical generators. So charging your EV at night has a long tail pipe that extends through the grid back to the smokestack at the natural gas firing plant. What would happen if all of California's cars were replaced by electric vehicles? The demand for electricity - particularly at night - would skyrocket. Where will we get that extra night time energy capacity?

I will make a bet with you (that I wish to lose): California will still be burning natural gas to power itself at night in 20 years. And so long as California burns natural gas, all consumers connected to California's grid: Palo Alto, Berkeley, MP, MV, SJ, etc., all of us burn natural gas. That Tesla parked in the driveway of a new Palo Alto home in 2021 will be burning natural gas at night as it charges.

I am by no means saying that burning natural gas is good for anyone. Adding greenhouse gases to our global atmosphere has ghastly consequences wherever you look: rising sea levels, droughts, storms, ocean acidification, etc. But how do we stop it? How do we make a difference?

It is well accepted by global policy makers that our atmosphere suffers from a global Tragedy of the Commons. In case any reader is not familiar with this principle, here is an illustrative video produced by Ted-Ed: Web Link

One consequence of realizing we're experiencing a Tragedy of the Commons is that it is *not* possible to solve the problem at any one location. Because we share our atmosphere, we cannot solve the problem in just Palo Alto, just California or just the United States. As a thought experiment, consider that somehow the entire US stops producing greenhouse gases. That would only be a 15% reduction in global greenhouse gas production. 15% is a big number and it would slow down global climate change, but it would not stop or reverse it. Without global committments, emissions will continue to rise elsewhere and eventually go back and go higher than they were before. Americans could be the most virtuous protectors of our atmoshphere and it would not be enough if others did not also do the same.

Calculate how much greenhouse gas production Palo Alto will save by enacting this gas ban on new construction and contrast that with a city on the other side of the world that is air conditioning the outdoors with ACs powered by natural gas.

Global climate change is a global challenge that requires a global solution. This is the only viable solution for climate change. Without global agreements, anything we do at the local, state or even national level will not have much of a difference at all.

We should demand our leaders at the national level forge international agreements to reduce greenhouse gases. I am fully in support of that.

Our city government should focus on local problems that require local solutions with clear benefits for local residents.


4 people like this
Posted by Anon
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Nov 12, 2019 at 10:30 am

Posted by StupidSolution, a resident of Barron Park

There is a little too much here to address all at once. I will address two points:

>> First let me be clear: I believe the science with regard to man made climate change is clear. I believe that due to the political nature of the IPCC, scientists are out rosier projections than their data suggest. We're going to see the effects earlier and more serious than officially projected.

I agree. The IPCC is trying to walk on the knife-edge between future-indifference and panic.

>> With that in mind, let me clarify: it is misleading for any entity connected to California's electric grid (Palo Alto, MP, MV, SJ, Berkeley, etc.) to claim that they're running 100% renewable electricity. Palo Alto's power mix is the same as everyone else's power mix in California.

I don't agree with how you are looking at it. I agree that the electrons in and out are not labeled. But, I would like you to consider a different instance of this paradox.

You, and your neighbor, bicycle to Grocery Outlet to buy tuna. Let's say you buy 5 cans of rod-and-reel-caught tuna. Your neighbor buys 5 cans of evil-outlaw-tuna (and pays less for the tuna). The origin is labeled on an outer covering. You both tear off the outer covering to fit the tuna in your backpacks. When you get home, you and your neighbor bump into each other and the cans get mixed up. You don't know which cans were "safe" and which were not. Now, you both take five random cans. Now, you are upset because a marine mammal might have been killed to produce a can of tuna you are eating. I happen to walk by, and, I tell you that by buying the "safe" tuna you reduced by 50% the probability that the can you are eating killed a dolphin.

IOW, we aren't looking for a morally-pure power grid. We want to reduce and gradually eliminate the damage that our power purchases cause.

Here is a different example. Let's say, hypothetically, that Vinod Khosla, Scott McNealy, and you, all bank at Wells Fargo. Now, Vinod Khosla has done some good things, both technologically, and, socially, but, he also suffers from what has been called "the arrogance of great wealth" Web Link and thinks that, because he is a billionaire, he has the right to deny public access to the public Martins Beach adjacent to his seafront property. Scott McNealy was the MBA-in-charge of the technically-innovative (in its time) Sun Microsystems. More recently, he hosted a fundraiser for Donald Trump. Now, are you going to move your bank account from Wells Fargo because "their money" is getting mixed with "your money"? It is kind of the same problem. The dollars don't really have labels once they are inside the bank. They just exist as entries in accounts; mere digital representations of the medium of exchange we call "dollars". Once inside the bank, the dollars are "the same as everyone elses".

"The grid" actually does function as a very-short-term (on the order of 1/60 of a second) power bank. The electrons, the cans of tuna, the dollars, all lose their individual "identity" once they enter. But, I strongly disagree with the notion that it doesn't matter how they were sourced just because they get "banked" together.


5 people like this
Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Nov 12, 2019 at 11:58 am

The “our electrons are dirty because they come off the grid” argument is misguided. There actually IS a basic problem with the whole regimen, but the “which electrons?” issue isn’t it.

As @Anon above points out, as long as each joule of energy Palo Alto pulls off the grid is balanced by a “green” joule we put into the grid somewhere else, our net statewide carbon impact really is zero. Even if Palo Alto technically uses a “brown” joule, it just means somebody else uses the “green” joule Palo Alto paid for, instead of the “brown” one they would otherwise have used. Netted out, we’re neutral. So it’s a mistake to say that Palo Alto isn’t really green because the grid contains brown energy too. (A more complicated but similar principle applies to the “brown spikes” issue.)


The real problem with the whole argument is not “will Palo Alto cut emissions by going to electricity?” (we will), but “does it matter?” Renewable electricity is heavily dependent on solar, which doesn’t work at night. Palo Alto gets around this by sourcing half our power from hydro, which runs 24/7 (and also has its own environmental issues). But there just isn’t enough hydro available to scale anywhere close to statewide. So while Palo Alto may be able to go 100% green, most other cities couldn’t, even if they tried - at least until the price of storage falls a lot farther, or we bring back nuclear.

That means most of the state will need fossil fuels (natural gas is the least dirty) for years to come, at least at night. There’s a piece in the Mercury News today by a Stanford professor who observes that it’s worse to burn gas in a power plant and convert it to electricity, and then convert the electricity to heat in your furnace, than it is just to burn the gas in your furnace in the first place. In other words, if you run your appliances at night and don’t live in Palo Alto, you might actually be better staying on gas.

If only tiny Palo Alto, and nobody else, can do all-green electricity, then is it worth it to switch? Many will still say yes, on principle. But the notion that “Palo Alto can lead a giant wave” is flawed, at least for now.


1 person likes this
Posted by Anon
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Nov 12, 2019 at 12:48 pm

Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood

>> There’s a piece in the Mercury News today by a Stanford professor who observes that it’s worse to burn gas in a power plant and convert it to electricity, and then convert the electricity to heat in your furnace, than it is just to burn the gas in your furnace in the first place.

Can you post the link? I don't normally read the Merc because of their privacy-intrusion policy, but, I will bother to work around it for this.

But, at face value, the article sounds highly misleading. Because nobody is generally advocating resistance heating from electricity. They/we are advocating more sophisticated systems, in this instance next-generation highly efficient heat pumps, that recover the lost energy, *and more*. But, I need to read the article to understand the context.

>> In other words, if you run your appliances at night and don’t live in Palo Alto, you might actually be better staying on gas.

Please post the link, but, rest assured, through the "magic" of heat pumps (a sufficiently advanced technology), the application is very efficient.


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Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Nov 12, 2019 at 1:23 pm

Web Link

His efficiency-loss argument is around the power-plant, not the appliance itself. He thinks power-plant gas-to-electricity conversion efficiency averages 40% in California which seems low, but there is a lot of old utility equipment here.


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Posted by Anon
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Nov 12, 2019 at 2:57 pm

Posted by Resident, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood

>> Web Link

Thank you!

>> His efficiency-loss argument is around the power-plant, not the appliance itself. He thinks power-plant gas-to-electricity conversion efficiency averages 40% in California which seems low, but there is a lot of old utility equipment here.

Actually, that is about right for a current-generation thermal-electric plant. And, when you look at all the losses in the grid, the delivered efficiency is even lower. But, that's OK, because electricity is unusually useful for driving the (electric) motors that power heat pumps.

He acknowledges that heat pumps are (usually) actually > 100% efficient (depending on lots of stuff). (His example is heat-pump driven hot water heaters.) . His argument actually has to do with the "time of day" marginal production/use argument. That is, of course, that electric sources in the grid vary during the day/between daytime and nighttime.

I admit that I don't like the editorial as it stands because I think right off the bat it misleads people who don't know a lot of the engineering details. It is true that grid power is greener during the daytime. But, even at night, an application using a device that has a COP of 3 (depends on air-source temperature) using natural-gas thermal-electric power, is still around "100% efficient" end-to-end, more efficient than a gas water heater that is 83% efficient real-world. And, that is at night. (One unit I've seen has a COP of 5.) So, on the face of it, without more information on what data the author is using and what he is comparing, I have to disagree with him. It would have been more helpful if the editorial included a reference to a paper with enough detail to understand what his assumptions were.


5 people like this
Posted by StupidSolution
a resident of Barron Park
on Nov 12, 2019 at 3:39 pm

@anon:

I understand your point. Thank you for your analogy of tuna. I'm going to modify your analogy to make my point which is the distinction between buyer and beneficiary.

Lets say your goal is to eat lead-free canned fish (as an aside, the biggest source of environmental lead after we got rid of leaded gasoline has been coal-fired electricity plants). You place an online order for 5 cans of lead-free canned fish. The store also receives an order for 5000 cans of everday contaminated fish. The store preps the lead-free fish for your order and also preps the contaminated fish for the larger order. Then they throw both batches into a vat and turn on their canning machine. Out pops 5005 cans. You get 5.

Question 1: Did you pay for 5 cans of lead-free fish? Yes. It says so on the order and the store in fact prepped lead-free fish for you.

Question 2: Did you receive 5 cans of lead-free fish? No. You received a blend that is mostly contaminated.

Question 3: Can you claim you are eating lead-free fish? No. Your 5 cans are mostly contaminated. If this were a real scenario, you'd have a fraud claim. You are not getting what you paid for.

Question 4: Is there lead-free fish in the cans. Yes there is. And I agree that is a good thing.

By creating predictable demand, we've created a business case for solar/wind/hydro suppliers to invest. Those suppliers know that there are real customers willing to pay for their green energy production. But because the end product is mixed on the grid (as are the greenhouse gases in the atmosphere), the benefits are spread across all customers, not solely the buyer.

So this is my point: Palo Alto pays for carbon-neutral energy. But Palo Alto is not the sole beneficiary of the carbon-neutral energy. Due to the nature of grids and electrons, the beneficiary is everyone drawing from the grid. So I say that Palo Alto claiming it is using 100% renewable energy is misleading. It is great that the grid has a cleaner mix. But should we (and other progressive cities) be the ones paying for it? If you were to ask residents to vote on paying for a project that benefits just Palo Altans vs. diluting the benefit across all Californians, how would the votes tally?

Question 5: Does Palo Alto's payment to carbon-neutral suppliers net out our GHG emissions? Yes. By paying for solar/hydro we should net our emissions to zero. Does it make a difference though?

Due to the shared nature of our atmosphere (we can't pay for clean air over just our city), the Tragedy of the Commons comes into play. Individual actions cannot resolve a collective problem where participants are incentivized to externalize costs for their individual benefits. Tragedy of the Commons situations are not solved by actors voluntarily and invidually changing their behavior. It is not enough for Palo Alto or California or even the entire USA to act virtuously. We could transitition to all clean energy, all clean vehicles and all clean buildings but without global cooperation from all participants, we would just add a delay.


4 people like this
Posted by StupidSolution
a resident of Barron Park
on Nov 12, 2019 at 5:38 pm

Correction: In my fish analogy above, I meant to say mercury contamination, not lead.

As a FYI to anyone curious about mercury in the environment:

Basic information about mercury at the EPA: Web Link

Choose the Right Fish To Lower Mercury Risk Exposure, Consumer Reports: Web Link

Mercury Guide, NRDC: Web Link


10 people like this
Posted by Another Giveaway
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Nov 12, 2019 at 7:06 pm

Anon said:

"They/we are advocating more sophisticated systems, in this instance next-generation highly efficient heat pumps, that recover the lost energy, *and more*... but, rest assured, through the "magic" of heat pumps (a sufficiently advanced technology), the application is very efficient"

The statements above makes me think you don't have a solid grasp on the fundamentals of thermodynamics. I have to admire your enthusiasm, but I am starting to understand why you have been so easily fooled by this natural gas shell game.


Like this comment
Posted by Anon
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Nov 13, 2019 at 7:54 am

Posted by Another Giveaway, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood

>> The statements above makes me think you don't have a solid grasp on the fundamentals of thermodynamics.

Actually, I do. But, like many others, it is difficult to explain how heat pumps work in 100 words or less. Please help me out here. I'm all ears.


2 people like this
Posted by Anon
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Nov 13, 2019 at 11:04 am

Posted by StupidSolution, a resident of Barron Park

>> So this is my point: Palo Alto pays for carbon-neutral energy. But Palo Alto is not the sole beneficiary of the carbon-neutral energy. Due to the nature of grids and electrons, the beneficiary is everyone drawing from the grid. So I say that Palo Alto claiming it is using 100% renewable energy is misleading.

I'm really not sure if the CPAUtil actually says the city is -using- (whatever). I'm not saying it doesn't, either. I'm not up for reading all the webpages right now. ;-) . If it does say that, an editor was probably trying to be more succinct. However, in recent years, a new word usage has come into vogue for exactly this purpose: "to source, vt." The city could then claim it is -sourcing- 100% renewable electricity.

(Lead v mercury: thanks for clearing that up.)

>> Due to the shared nature of our atmosphere [...], the Tragedy of the Commons comes into play. [...] It is not enough for Palo Alto or California or even the entire USA to act virtuously. We could transitition to all clean energy, all clean vehicles and all clean buildings but without global cooperation from all participants, we would just add a delay.

I look at it differently. The US is the (world's biggest) X (wealthiest country). We can do this. The US is roughly 15% of the total current emissions. China is about twice. As with any tragedy of the commons situation, there isn't anything in it for China to keep emitting GHGs, -long term-. China's biggest economic zones, Guangdong (Shenzhen) and the Shanghai region (city + surroundings), are barely above sea level. I think China is better positioned than most countries to make the transition to fossil-fuel-free. Add in the EU for 50% of emissions.

I wouldn't argue that any individual, country, or the planet will "save money" by switching to sustainable energy sources. The reward will be shared by all. For the individual, "the reward of virtue is-- virtue".


4 people like this
Posted by Another Giveaway
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Nov 13, 2019 at 1:12 pm

@Anon,

If you really understood it, you would be able to explain it. Why arbitrarily limit yourself to 100 words?

This is important. The future of the planet is at stake. It is absolutely essential for you to educate the public how your "magic" heat pumps "recover the lost energy, *and more*"

Why the sudden loss for words?.


Like this comment
Posted by Anon
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Nov 13, 2019 at 1:52 pm

Posted by Another Giveaway, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood

>> If you really understood it, you would be able to explain it. Why arbitrarily limit yourself to 100 words?

Wikipedia is an estimate for the minimum number of words to explain something. Wikipedia takes quite a few words in this case:

Web Link

No one will read a post of 10,000 words. Note that Wikipedia says its article requires -expansion-.

But wait, I found an expanded article online that is appropriate to this discussion. Below is a quotation of around 100 words that summarizes better than I can:

Web Link

==
The great advantage of using a heat pump to keep your home warm, rather than just burning fuel, is that a heat pump supplies Qh=Qc+W . Heat transfer is from the outside air, even at a temperature below freezing, to the indoor space. You only pay for W , and you get an additional heat transfer of Qc from the outside at no cost; in many cases, at least twice as much energy is transferred to the heated space as is used to run the heat pump. When you burn fuel to keep warm, you pay for all of it. The disadvantage is that the work input (required by the second law of thermodynamics) is sometimes more expensive than simply burning fuel, especially if the work is done by electrical energy.
==

"Qc" = "and more"

>> If you really understood it, you would be able to explain it. Why arbitrarily limit yourself to 100 words?

No one who knows me complains that I am at a loss for words. Too many words, generally. "If I had more time, I would have written a shorter letter."

Since you want more words, I will add that heat pumps perform very well in this climate, which is "Zone 3, Maritime". Most of California is Zone 3. Heat pumps generally don't make sense for Cold/Very Cold climates.

I guess you missed the "magic" allusion. "Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic."


5 people like this
Posted by Barron Park Bill
a resident of Barron Park
on Nov 14, 2019 at 1:36 pm

"Electrical rates for residential increase by nearly 50% once a residence uses more than 330kwh (from .13757 to .19367). By forcing a house to sole source their energy on electricity only instead of splitting between electric & gas, customers may end up with higher utility bills, higher utility taxes."

Yes! More money in CPA's pocket. I currently use only electric heat in the house and for winter months my KWH/Day goes up less than 50% but my $$/Day more than doubles.

And yes, I do have solar installed and though I produce more KWHs/day than I use I still end up paying more $$. Because the electric heat mostly runs in the evening after the sun goes down it doesn't pull from the power I am producing. Palo Alto measures the amount of electricity you use, Tier 1 and 2 calculation for that entire amount, and then credit 0.10 for every KWR produced. There is no Tier 2 credit for producing more than 330 KWR. I basically need to produce more than double annually that I use to break even. This is important to understand is you are planning to install solar!


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Posted by Anon
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Nov 14, 2019 at 2:22 pm

Posted by Barron Park Bill, a resident of Barron Park

>> Yes! More money in CPA's pocket. I currently use only electric heat in the house and for winter months my KWH/Day goes up less than 50% but my $$/Day more than doubles.

Correct me if I am wrong, but, if you go 100% electric, when the gas meter is turned off the monthly $13.35 service charge for the meter also goes away, correct? If not, this is something that the city needs to fix.

Web Link


4 people like this
Posted by StupidSolution
a resident of Barron Park
on Nov 15, 2019 at 8:27 pm

Here is a Palo Alto Online Article from March-2019 about gas from the covered landfill out by the airport: Web Link

As the article states "Now that Palo Alto no longer incinerates its sewage (yay!), the methane is simply flared (burned) on site, turning it into carbon dioxide, which is a much less potent greenhouse gas. You can see the chimney where it is burned in the picture below."

Can someone find how much gas is burned off at the site? I would imagine the city has some sort of permit/license/limit with the State of California or the EPA to do so. I can't seem to find anything online.


2 people like this
Posted by StupidSolution
a resident of Barron Park
on Nov 15, 2019 at 9:03 pm

I found the data after googling some more:

Project and Landfill Data by State (EPA.gov): Web Link

Click on California - takes you to an excel file. Lists the Palo Alto Landfill as producing 0.453 LFG Collected (mmscfd).

If I am reading this correctly, that is 0.453 million cubic feet of landfill gas collected daily. That is 453,000 cubic feet of gas. Divide that by 100 gives us an approximate therm number of 4530 therms/day. To the other energy nerds out there - check this calculation.

That is 4530 therms/day burned off without use. As someone on the earlier article commented, why doesn't the city turn the landfill gas into electricity and feed it into the grid instead of burning it off for nothing?

At least when homeowners burn gas we're our homes - why is the city just flaring the gas?





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Posted by Anon
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Nov 16, 2019 at 9:49 am

Posted by StupidSolution, a resident of Barron Park

>> why doesn't the city turn the landfill gas into electricity and feed it into the grid instead of burning it off for nothing?

Good question! The landfill output is fairly small and likely somewhat variable, but, it seems like there would be some green energy company out there with some kind of semi-portable installation that could be used for this. Anybody know if this has been checked?


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Posted by Anon
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Nov 16, 2019 at 12:40 pm

Followup: There definitely are companies out there with the technology to do this. Web Link. I don't know if Palo Alto has looked into a small installation. Anyone know?


2 people like this
Posted by StupidSolution
a resident of Barron Park
on Nov 17, 2019 at 10:57 am

The fundamental problem that I have with Palo Alto's gas ban on new construction is that imposes an arbitrary restriction on local residents without considering state wide gas usage. I

Here is some info from a webpage at the State of California:

Web Link

"Supply and Demand of Natural Gas in California
Natural gas continues to play an important and varied role in California. Nearly 45 percent of the natural gas burned in California was used for electricity generation, and much of the remainder consumed in the residential (21 percent), industrial (25 percent), and commercial (9 percent) sectors. California continues to depend upon out-of-state imports for nearly 90 percent of its natural gas supply, underscoring the importance of monitoring and evaluating ongoing market trends and outlook. Natural gas has become an increasingly important source of energy since the state's power plants rely on this fuel.

Natural gas provides the largest portion of the total in-state capacity and electricity generation in California. Tracking Progress provides additional information.

The Energy Commission determines estimates of natural gas supply, demand, and price as part of each biennial Integrated Energy Policy Report (IEPR) process. Staff’s outlook indicates a gradual rise in price over the next several years. The IEPR provides additional current and historical information and staff recommendation regarding the natural gas supply and demand."


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