San Jose to join San Francisco and Berkeley in restricting natural gas from new construction projects

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San Jose about to ban natural gas from nearly all new construction as part of a growing movement to usher in an era of all-electric energy to fight climate change. Earlier, in November, the San Francisco Board of Supervisors voted in favor of a similar ban.

The Mercury-News reports that some advocates worry that a special exemption added by the city at the last minute could threaten the overall intention of the ban.

City Council on Dec. 1 is expected to approve a proposal to prohibit natural gas in new commercial and high-rise residential buildings beginning in August 2021. “The action would expand an ordinance that went into effect in January barring natural gas in new single-family homes, detached granny flats and low-rise multifamily buildings up to three stories,” the published report says.

“San Jose is really making history, and I do hope that local governments across the state and country see this as a model for the kind of ambitious policies we need in our cities to truly combat climate change,” said Olivia Walker, a research associate with the National Resources Defense Council.

Exemptions include affect existing homes or commercial buildings, as well as hospitals,  hospitals, new dwelling units attached to an existing home and facilities with a distributed energy source — or electrical generation and storage performed on-site through a variety of small, grid-connected or distribution system-connected devices, the published report says.

“Limited hardship exemptions” will be available for new food service establishments and manufacturing and industrial facilities until Dec. 31, 2022.

In November, San Francisco decided to ban natural gas on all new construction, affecting more than 54,000 homes and 32 million sq. ft. of commercial space in the city’s development pipeline. Berkeley started the regional trend n July 2019 when it became the first city in the country to prohibit natural gas.

The city expects the natural gas ban would offset approximately 608,000 tons of carbon dioxide emissions.

Myron Crawford, a government affairs specialist with the real estate development firm Berg & Berg Enterprises, Inc., wrote in a letter to the council saying the natural gas ban will lead to higher home prices and fuel an exodus of people leaving California.

“Just because another city passes a prohibition on natural gas is no reason for San Jose to do it,” Crawford wrote. “Berkeley’s natural gas ban adds to the ever-increasing cost of homeownership in California, which has already been stressed by eco-demands.”

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