Focus on Consumer Choice and Reducing Greenhouse Gas Emissions
Cities, counties, companies and associations across Southern California, representing nearly 8 million citizens, have joined together to support a balanced energy policy and consumer choice in energy service, and to also prevent an overreliance on a single energy source.
No natural gas?
Today, more than 90% of homes in SoCal rely on natural gas for space and water heating or cooking. Additionally, when questioned in surveys, Southern Californians regularly report they prefer natural gas by a margin of 4 to 1, citing its affordability. However, the ability for consumers to select that utility they want is threatened with an all-electric push by policy makers.
State agencies, including the California Energy Commission (CEC) are being called upon to take steps to prohibit the use of affordable natural gas in buildings. Bans have already been approved in parts of the state.
“People should have the choice of what energy source they use — and many prefer natural gas because it’s more affordable,” said Port Hueneme Mayor Will Berg. “In addition, to keep energy reliable and affordable it makes sense to not put all your eggs in one basket.”
Combating climate change
Citizens across the globe have become more and more aware of the impact of greenhouse gas emissions on the planet, but there are better ways to reduce them other than relying on electricity alone.
Experts, including researchers at the Stanford University, the University of California, Irvine, and Lawrence Livermore Labs, caution against an all-electric approach. Additionally, the Energy Futures Initiative (EFI), a research center founded by former Secretary of Energy Ernest J. Moniz, reached similar conclusions. In a 2019 report on the pathways for achieving deep decarbonization in California, EFI found that meeting California’s environmental goals will require a range of clean energy pathways.
Last year, a study by Navigant Consulting found that replacing 20% of the natural gas California uses today with renewable natural gas could reduce emissions equal to making every building in the state electric-only, but at half the cost.
SoCalGas, for example, has a first-of-its-kind operation that uses organic waste from dairy farms, landfills and sewage treatment plants to produce biomethane, also known as renewable gas.
“Renewable gases can increase people’s use of renewable energy and combat climate change — and we can’t become carbon neutral without them.” said Dr. Jack Brouwer, Director of the National Fuel Cell Research Center at University of California, Irvine. He notes that renewable gases are “easily stored in pipelines and also provide a complementary way to deliver renewable energy that will be more reliable and resilient than using the electric grid alone.”
Joining forces for balanced energy solutions
Because a shift to all-electric would impact the planet as well as the wallets of Southern Californians, 114 local governments across SoCal have passed resolutions in support of affordable and balanced energy policies to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. The resolutions urge policymakers to safeguard consumers’ ability to choose natural gas, propane, or electric appliances for their homes and businesses.
In addition, 18 companies and associations in California, including Californians for Balanced Energy Solutions, California Apartment Association, Congress of California Seniors, Latino Food Industry Association and Southeast Christian Church, among others, sent a letter to CEC Chairman David Hochschild asking the CEC to pause the consideration of REACH code approvals that undermine statewide building codes and appliance standards.
As the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, Black Chamber of Commerce and Asian Pacific Chamber of Commerce noted in a letter they sent to Chairman Hochschild, “The need for a significant conversation with the California community is vital before the state continues planning the demise of natural gas. In the end, the collective effort of households and businesses is necessary if we are going to achieve the state’s climate objectives. We cannot fail in this effort, and we need to find a way to win that balances customer needs, and cost, with the overall plan to achieve the goals.”