Los Altos to vote on natural gas ban next week

By the Daily Post staff

Los Altos has scheduled a vote on a controversial ordinance to ban natural gas in new homes and businesses for next Monday, Sept. 22.

On Nov. 19, council split 3-2 in favor of the ban with Jan Pepper, Jeannie Bruins and Neysa Fligor supporting the measure while Lynette Lee Eng and Anita Enander were opposed.

Lee Eng said at the time that she thinks residents were not being properly informed about the measure and Enander said she wanted more data on the effects of banning gas.

November’s hearing drew both opponents and supporters of the ban. Supporters said the ban would help stop climate change. Opponents said they doubted the ban would have any affect on climate change and it would raise the cost of construction. In addition, they pointed out that natural gas is a less expensive source of energy than electric.

Resident Nancy Phillips said there are other causes of climate change such as emissions from trucks making Amazon deliveries and air pollution from planes. She said those were bigger contributors than natural gas.

Bruins said the council can’t control people using Amazon, but they can block natural gas hookups in new buildings.

The vote in November wasn’t final however. Council members felt the draft by the city Environmental Commission was poorly worded, and they asked City Manager Chris Jordan to re-write it.

The ban would apply to new homes and businesses. It would not apply to gas stoves or fireplaces of existing homes if residents remodel them.

The proposed ordinance includes an exception if an “applicant shows that there is a public or business-related need that cannot be reasonably met with an electric-fueled appliance or piece of equipment.”

Menlo Park, Palo Alto and Mountain View have already banned natural gas in new construction.

Silicon Valley Clean Energy, a nonprofit that procures electric power for customers and sends it through PG&E’s lines, supports the measure. The nonprofit is giving Los Altos a $10,000 grant if it puts a “reach code” measure on its council agenda which could the natural gas ban.

The reach code before council next Monday also requires builders to put circuits in new homes that would allow residents to hook up electric vehicle chargers. For commercial buildings, the code would require builders to set aside a certain percentage of parking spaces for EV recharging.

Here’s a link to the proposed ban.


  1. Idiots. The sun doesn’t shine everyday and you can’t turn on your lights with happy feelings. In california they have blackouts constantly because the grid pulls more than the system can generate.

    These people are also uneducated, because the fastest growing source of gas in this country is from landfills, waste water, etc., which is 100% renewable and likely to replace 30% of conventional gas eventually.

    • There is a huge story unfolding in the gas industry that is getting very little attention. It is the missing leg on the Green New Deal energy stool and the answer to transportation fuel for heavy trucks. It is the urgent need for zero carbon hydrogen in volume. In Europe, Japan, South Korea, California and some in other states the use of hydrogen is increasing. Plans are being executed to use more. I drive a hydrogen car. Can we use hydrogen gas to run our gas turbine power generators that provide 35 percent of all the power in the USA? Yes !! Zero carbon electric power on demand when we need it from any methane source.

      It is the only zero carbon fuel for heavy trucks, the 18 wheelers, that can replace diesel fuel economically (batteries are heavy and take too long to re-charge).

      Where do we get hydrogen today? Most of it comes from “Steam Reforming” which uses methane and through chemical process separates the hydrogen and emits carbon dioxide. Some is available from electrolysis the splitting of water with electricity. But this takes a lot of electricity. So how can we get this in volume?

      The answer is Methane Pyrolysis. What’s that you ask? Researchers developed potentially low-cost, low-emissions technology that can convert methane without forming CO2

      Wow, you mean we can have all the hydrogen we want an no carbon emissions? Yes !!

      But what about wind, solar, batteries? We need those too, this complements them because they can provide the ongoing power and the gas turbines can provide the extra power when we need it for heat waves in summer in the south and west and for cold dark stormy weather in winter in the upper middle of the country and in the north east. Zero carbon hydrogen makes the Green New Deal practical for the whole country and helps create thousands of jobs too.

      You say this can make our heavy truck fleet zero carbon, too? Yes !! And you can fill the truck with hydrogen in the same time as filling with carbon based diesel fuel.

      Why haven’t I heard about this before? Because it is new technology only a few years old and the press does not recognize what a game changer this can be. Interestingly it looks like Israel may be looking into this for their new gas field in the eastern Mediterranean. They may become the technology center for Methane Pyrolysis.

      Why can’t we be the technology center here in our industrial mid-west? We can if people get interested and put this great technology on the radar screen together as part of the Green New Deal.

      Even better, we already have the raw material natural gas/methane and the distribution pipelines running all around the country. If we did conversion at the well-head and pipelined the hydrogen then any leaks in the system would be zero pollution hydrogen instead of methane (methane is 60 times worse than carbon dioxide CO2)

      So what are we waiting for? For people need to hear about Methane Pyrolysis and realize it can get us to zero carbon energy and transportation years earlier than current estimates.

      • At my house, we’ve cut the power lines and get all of our energy from a perpetual motion machine. These machines produce no emissions of any kind and they require no fuel. The energy that’s produced is absolutely free. Before investing in Methane Pyrolysis, check out perpetual motion machines.

  2. I’ve got a bold idea for the city council — instead of telling us what kind of heating system to install, why don’t you let us decide for ourselves. We’re not asking you to make decisions in our personal lives. If I want to save the world by paying more for heating that should be my choice. What are you worried about? I’m sure everybody will see it your way and pick electric over gas. Trust the people who elected you to make the right decision.

  3. Electric furnaces cost less than gas furnaces. https://www.fixr.com/comparisons/gas-vs-electric-furnace#cQ But that’s where the benefits of electric end. The cost of gas is far less expensive than electric over time, especially in California where electric rates are nearly double what the rest of the country pays.

    Council says this is about the environment, but it’s really just an attempt to keep the cost of new housing high so as to keep undesirable residents out of Los Altos.

  4. Gotta hand it to ultra conservative old world Los Altos residents to question whether or not burning fossil fuels is a good idea in 2020. Have you been outside lately? Like that air? Stop whining and do your part. If you’re building a new house, you can afford a solar array and batteries. Use electric heat and cooking. You’ll be ok.

    • Yeah, the hurricanes, forest fires, etc. are all due to fossil fuels or Trump, right?

      The accumulation of fossil fuels in the atmosphere as a cause of global warming and the end of life on our planet is a political joke, like Covid.

      By the way, CO2 is very beneficial because plants absorb CO2 and give the oxygen needed for our life. It will be a disaster if we lose CO2 from the atmosphere

        • No, but the earth is much greener now thanks to increased CO2 in the atmosphere which stimulates plant and tree growth. Agricultural prices are lower, and with food being more abundant.

        • Alex and Sam, the markets don’t lie. Natural Gas prices have been dropping. Electric rates are going up. For a consumer, the choice is easy. You can belittle people all you want for not supporting the Green New Deal, but it’s difficult enough for middle-income people to survive here without forcing them to use a more expensive energy source. Leave people alone and let them make their own choices. It’s called freedom, something all Americans used to believe in.

  5. As a Los Altos resident, I think this decision is a bad idea. Every year we keep having power outages, either because of heat, fires or winter storms. Solar can only do so much, especially during prolonged smoky days, when you cannot even recharge your Powerwall batteries. Having no backup energy source to use to cook your food during an outage is a bad idea.

  6. Isn’t the last few months present a good live example to consider (no sun rays can pass through the layers of fog and smoke, and blackouts)? Solar energy conduits will not sustain your habits to eat warm food, air-condition when it’s too hot, use a heater when it’s too cold, and have lights on on demand. That’s science. Ofcourse you can always use flashlight for light in your rooms, and matches to warm up your food.

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