BY SARA TABIN
Daily Post Staff Writer
Berkeley banned natural gas appliances in new buildings in July. Earlier this month, Menlo Park partially banned gas appliances in new homes. Palo Alto is going to take its shot at natural gas this fall.
City Manager Ed Shikada told City Council on Monday that he hopes to have an update of the city codes ready for council on Nov. 4. If council votes in favor of the update, it will take effect in 2020, according to city spokeswoman Meghan Horrigan-Taylor.
The city has been looking to reduce natural gas over the past few years to help fight climate change. In 2015, it launched a program to allow residents and businesses to purchase carbon offsets for their natural gas use. Palo Alto made reducing natural gas use in buildings a goal of its 2016 Sustainability and Climate Action Plan.
Natural gas is a fossil fuel made up of different chemicals including methane. Burning natural gas creates more carbon dioxide than using renewable energies like solar and wind power. A 2018 report from the city says that natural gas use has been the second largest cause of greenhouse gas emissions in Palo Alto, after road travel, since 2013. But road travel, including from commuters, is responsible for more than twice as many emissions in the city.
Several cities have been looking into restrictions on natural gas. Berkeley made headlines with its complete ban in new construction.
Menlo Park’s ban, which was passed last week, only impacts new offices and apartments. Existing structures will not be targeted. New family homes can still have gas stoves as long as a hook-up for an electric stove is included in the house.
Most of Menlo Park’s businesses and homes get their energy from Peninsula Clean Energy, a publicly owned cooperative that buys renewable sources of energy such as solar and wind and uses PG&E’s lines to bring it to consumers. Peninsula Clean Energy says it gets at least 53% of its energy from renewable sources.
But Menlo Park resident Steve Van Pelt, who spoke out against the ban, said there have been a number of power outages in the past year, but gas is rarely if ever disrupted. If people have only electric appliances, they will not be able to cook, heat their homes or heat water if there is a power outage, Van Pelt said.
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