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New rules to phase out gas appliances stoke excitement, anxiety on the Peninsula

Original post made on Mar 22, 2023

With the Bay Area adopting sweeping new rules to phase out gas-fueled appliances, city and county officials in Menlo Park, Palo Alto and the region are debating the risks and benefits of going fully electric.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Wednesday, March 22, 2023, 9:46 AM

Comments (23)

Posted by Pat Landman
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Mar 22, 2023 at 11:26 am

Pat Landman is a registered user.

In our haste to get on board, "isn't everybody doing it?!" we are forgetting how our power is generated. If it was all affordable solar, wind, or tidal we might be doing a good thing but if it is fossil fuel then we are just increasing dirty power generation.

Posted by Barron Parker Too
a resident of Barron Park
on Mar 22, 2023 at 11:45 am

Barron Parker Too is a registered user.

This decision by the Air Quality Management board is bad for many reasons.

First, they claim use of electricity will reduce pollution (NOx, particulates). Where do they think that electricity comes from? Because CA (and the US) has been eliminating nuclear, which is the only clean source of energy that can operate at the necessary scale, electricity will come from burning fossil fuels. The efficiency for turning coal, oil or gas energy into electricity is about 50% at best (not including transmission losses), whereas using the gas directly in your water and space heating system is 100% efficient. So this "green" idea will result in far more pollution and global warming.

Second, as Mueller points out, a January 2027 date for outlawing gas appliances is impossible to meet. The electric appliances will not be available at scale, the electrical grid (which is already threatening brown outs during the summer) will not be able to handle cold snaps with massive use of electric heating. People will freeze.

Third, also as Mueller argues, if your electric service panel doesn't have enough current, when your heating goes out it could be weeks before you can have a new panel and get new electric heaters. And if this happens during the winter, your house could be unlivable for an extended period of time. Furthermore, the replacement cost of electric water heaters is many times that of gas heaters. And a heat pump will cost about ten times the price of a gas furnace To force this on the middle class that is barely scraping through is immoral.

This entire effort is reckless in the extreme -- it has many points of failure that will cause hardship and injury. It is also anti-green, injuring the planet with more fossil fuel burning to generate the electricity. We're in for hard times, with 20 of 21 ignorant commissioners endorsing this stupid plan.

Posted by Anonymous
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Mar 22, 2023 at 12:00 pm

Anonymous is a registered user.

To force it on anyone this quickly is unfair. Even some higher income people will
Find it difficult. Some homes don’t suit these new style electric appliances.
It may be hard to find a good, available contractor and secure permits.
I agree NEW builds can have new rules but retrofitting older arrangements isn’t simple for some of us!!
And if something suddenly does give out then one will be under pressure to figure
Out what to do (not easy) and likely changes to electrical panel too.
Systematic thoughtful changes are fine: politically driven rather quick dictates are actions
I disagree with.
I heard a Bay Area politician or ABAG official say oh “the rich” will pay for “everyone
else’s equipment conversions!”
And just WHO constitutes “the rich?” - I bet more of us than you’d think….breezy and arrogant official on the radio.

Posted by MyFeelz
a resident of another community
on Mar 22, 2023 at 12:08 pm

MyFeelz is a registered user.

I will look forward to losing power AND hot water during all these bomb cyclones that are apparently "the new normal". The only consolation during a power outage (if there can be any such thing) is having enough hot water to make a cup of tea, so I can sit back and wait for all of the trees to come crashing through the roof. Or heat up a package of vienna sausage (or at least rinse off the slime), since I am no longer buying fresh food. I can only afford to throw away "XXX" amount of $$$ on spoiled food. This is how the Founders found this place -- no power, no running water (hot OR cold), no sewage treatment plants, no grocery stores (and, to some residents' dismay, no conveniently located liquor stores). We don't seem to have improved it any, despite hundreds of years of trying to make this place a model of convenience. We took it, we wrung it out, and we are returning it in the same condition we received it in. No measurable lasting improvements. All of those brainiacs on the foothills to the west can do everything except what we need them to learn to do -- tame mother nature. There's two kinds of smart -- book smart and street smart. We seem to lack both qualities when it comes to making sweeping mandates. Here's another bullet, with which the City can use to shoot itself in the foot. Again.

Posted by ZephyrVenice
a resident of Midtown
on Mar 22, 2023 at 1:36 pm

ZephyrVenice is a registered user.

I understand about not cooking with gas, but I hope they offer classes for those of us who have never cooked with electricity. I'll need to adapt to the slower response time of electricity.

Barbara Fredrick

Posted by theAlex
a resident of South of Midtown
on Mar 22, 2023 at 1:47 pm

theAlex is a registered user.

I opted into the program to replace our gas water heater with a heat pump/electrical heater, but that's conditional that that it won't be any significant cost, as was implied. We'll opt right out if the city won't pay for it.

Posted by Paly02
a resident of Crescent Park
on Mar 22, 2023 at 2:17 pm

Paly02 is a registered user.

@ZephyrVenice (Barbara Fredrick) - electric technology has moved by leaps and bounds and electric induction cooktops are at least as fast as gas. Acterra has a free induction cooktop loaner program here - Web Link and I believe that you can email them to get a loaner. I believe they also have cooking classes

Posted by Consider Your Options.
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Mar 22, 2023 at 2:33 pm

Consider Your Options. is a registered user.

I switched to an induction electric stove. I like it better than gas. It turns on and off fast and temperature control is much more precise. (It heats the pan, not the stove top, which enables much faster temp adjustment). It is also sooooo much easier to clean than my old gas stove. I am very happy with my induction stove. If you are cooking with gas now, you will love induction.

Posted by Gale Johnson
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Mar 22, 2023 at 3:51 pm

Gale Johnson is a registered user.

We had an electric range when we bought our Brown and Kaufman home in 1963. It was built in 1956. It works fine. The gas furnace for our forced air heating system is over 40 years old and is due for replacement anyway. The gas hot water heater is fairly new so I’m glad they’re not forcing me to replace it with electric. Barron Parker Too makes a good point. Most of the electricity will be generated by fossil fuel burning generators so there be pollution from them wherever they’re located…just not in my neighborhood. The cost, availability, and infrastructure are big questions that nobody has the answers to yet, but I think it’s a safe bet that cost will be higher even if the appliance manufacturers ramp up production to the scale required.

Posted by BGordon
a resident of Midtown
on Mar 22, 2023 at 4:12 pm

BGordon is a registered user.

We should get to vote on anything so consequential.

Posted by MyFeelz
a resident of another community
on Mar 22, 2023 at 5:00 pm

MyFeelz is a registered user.

There's a program up north (Tahoe) where they are offering rebates to replace ... I can't remember how they word it ... I guess they're replacing dirty woodburning fixtures with clean woodburning fixtures. They also prefer users burn local wood. Such a shame that the trees all burned up locally a year and a half ago. The point being, somebody in some city council somewhere is cooking up a scheme that will be heaped on the consumer's plate whether they are hungry for it or not. And the city will claim to be the first to think of it.

The only consultants I want to hear from in chamber meetings are Inuit natives who live in igloos and know how the weather works and how to get energy without killing everything in their desire to harness it. It's a shame their habitat is being destroyed by "progress". But yeah, let's all put in electric water heaters and stoves. That'll fix it.

Posted by Paly02
a resident of Crescent Park
on Mar 22, 2023 at 5:02 pm

Paly02 is a registered user.

@BGordon what is considered consequential? If we voted on everything someone considered consequential, nothing would ever get done. Each of the Board members is an elected official.

Posted by Mondoman
a resident of Green Acres
on Mar 22, 2023 at 6:17 pm

Mondoman is a registered user.

The Board's claim that they are driven primarily by health considerations seems to be specious, as they did not ban the appliances that directly emit NOx into our faces -- gas stoves and internal combustion engine cars and trucks. Instead, they banned gas appliances that vent up chimneys to the outside, away from people. This seems to be more virtue signaling from politicians.

A possible loophole is that the revision seems to cover appliances by manufacturing date, not sales or installation date. Thus, it seems possible that one could buy a replacement gas water heater (say) made before 2027, and stash it in the garage or shed for installation once the current one fails. Decent ones seem to run around $1000 (uninstalled), so buying one to avoid $10k or more in electrical panel upgrades and remodels to fit a heat pump water heater may make sense.

Posted by Paly02
a resident of Crescent Park
on Mar 22, 2023 at 6:36 pm

Paly02 is a registered user.

@Mondoman - just FYI, the revision does, in fact, include installation date and sale date, source here: Web Link

Posted by Mondoman
a resident of Green Acres
on Mar 22, 2023 at 7:26 pm

Mondoman is a registered user.

Your link seems to be to a PR pamphlet, which differs a bit from the actual rule. I think they are a bit behind in updating/proofreading everything. The rule adopted is:

"301.5 No person shall sell, install, or offer for sale within the District any natural gas-fired storage tank water heater that is manufactured after January 1, 2027,
with a rated heat input rating of 75,000 BTU/hour or less, that emits more than
0 nanograms of nitrogen oxides (calculated as NO2) per joule of heat output.
This subsection shall not apply to mobile home water heaters."

Web Link

The wording on manufacturing date duplicates that from the various earlier standards, and presumably was selected so that vendors and installers would not be stuck with unsold old stock.

Posted by Paly02
a resident of Crescent Park
on Mar 22, 2023 at 7:49 pm

Paly02 is a registered user.

@Mondoman, thanks for that link, not sure what to make of it! I noticed that that is from 12/20/22 while the fact sheet I posted is from 3/16/23. Since they're going to work out implementation details in the implementation working group over time, I wouldn't be surprised if they change the wording more in line with what is said on the "fact sheet." No idea.

Posted by Mondoman
a resident of Green Acres
on Mar 22, 2023 at 8:50 pm

Mondoman is a registered user.

@Paly02 The wording I posted is indeed from a document dated 12/22 - that was the proposal sent out for public comment and discussed at the meeting. My understanding is that no amendments were made to that paragraph, but I suppose I could be wrong. It was just last week that they voted, so not surprising everything is not fully up to date. I'm sure the person who prepared the brochure didn't actually look at the legal wording, and the general gist of the brochure is roughly right.

The three or four previous NOx standards for water heaters all have the same manufacture date wording, and it's hard to imagine how they could avoid stranding old stock as unusable otherwise.

Many/most houses will do fine with heat pump water heaters, but for older ones like ours that won't, it's nice to know there's a way to stick with the existing natural gas version when replacement time comes in a decade or so.

Posted by Online Name
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Mar 22, 2023 at 9:42 pm

Online Name is a registered user.

We should definitely get to vote on this.

We also need officials who recognize that only 8% of the bad effects of gas come from residential use and who can explain what they're doing about the other 92% and what they're doing to curt demand on the grid.

Extra credit for explaining what type of power / fuel all the new honme generators use that people are buying so they don't sit and freeze in the darks for days without even being able to make coffee! It sure ain't electric power!

So foir utilities, we're now paying:

$1,000 a month = $12,000
forced conversion $20,000 at the very least
Home generator $10,000

virtue signalling priceledss

Posted by Me 2
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Mar 23, 2023 at 11:53 am

Me 2 is a registered user.

Perhaps these atmospheric rivers are God's way of telling us we're not ready to go 100% electric.

Posted by Resident 1-Adobe Meadows
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Mar 23, 2023 at 1:14 pm

Resident 1-Adobe Meadows is a registered user.

What we have is a government designated focus group which is trying to prove itself and exert pressure and power that has not been voted on by the residents of this state. They do not seem to recognize the state of the state as it is today 2023. The state of CA today is not good - the infrastructure is falling apart and state budget will have to be allocated to fix the infrastructure - including transportation.

The local papers and local news shows are following the problems on BART, the problems on the roads, and lack of budget to fix these items. We have to stop being driven by cable news and New York Times "Opinions" and get our state fixed up. That includes making decisions on Water.

Focus groups seem to be answering to some other entity at a federal level that is just working the politics that is consuming the east coast. Even Opinion writers for the LA Times are mouthing New York political ventures.

And we have people who want to make national news and get attention for creating an example for the rest of the US. That fixation is corrupting their common snese in fixing the problems that are reported on our local news. i think they are group of political want-a be's who are itching for recognition despite that their program is unrealistic and the majority of people are not in agreement with the added expense that the residents have to pay.

Posted by MyFeelz
a resident of another community
on Mar 23, 2023 at 8:35 pm

MyFeelz is a registered user.

@Online Name, I was outraged at my last utility bill. I was hardly ever home and when I was used no heat. CPAU bill was $120. Sounds cheap but had I been home living above troglodyte era, probably would have been at least $500.

Posted by Online Name
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Mar 23, 2023 at 10:15 pm

Online Name is a registered user.

@MyFeelz, yup. I'd estimate that at between 1/3 to 1/2 of each bill has nothing to do with usage and is all the varieties of fees, surcharges, taxes etc. that our leading lights have dreamed up. This has been happening for a long time and has only gotten worse since I first noticed it when paying the CPAU bill when we'd been away for 3 weeks that month.

It makes we wonder why we need a "retail consultant" since so much our ":disposable" income goes to CPAU, not the struggling retailers and restaurants.

Posted by Resident 1-Adobe Meadows
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Mar 25, 2023 at 10:31 am

Resident 1-Adobe Meadows is a registered user.

Reading First Magazine dated April 10 = "I am enjoying life again". The topic is MOLD. Mold in the house causes Asthma and other debilitating body changes. It can be detected by a blood test. Given that we are continually pelted with water and never really dry out I am sure that MOLD is being created.

At my house I just had the pipes under the sink replaced, along with the disposal which I know had mold that I was always cleaning. My pipes were cleaned out in the sewer line to the street. The street tree has caused some damage to the sewer line.

There are a number of causes of Asthma - Mold being one of them. Part of the argument for no gas is that it is the creater of Asthma. A child called in the CC Meeting on this topic about a child with asthma and it was attributed to gas utilities. Time for evryone to check their house in the areas that get water. Apply some energy now to those areas. We are expecting more storms next week. You all could change to gas and still get Asthma if you are not working the MOLD problem. That is your roof line, sewer from bathroom/kitchen to main sewer to street. All sections of the base of the house getting damaged from rain. We have not dried out and still have to deal with the snow melt so more to come.

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