BY ELAINE GOODMAN
Daily Post Correspondent
Monday (Feb. 6) is the deadline for residents to send their comments to the agency that is considering rules that would require residents to replace their natural gas-fueled furnaces and water heaters with electric appliances.
The Bay Area Air Quality Management District’s email address is firstname.lastname@example.org.
The rules would apply throughout the air district’s territory, which includes all of Santa Clara, San Mateo, Alameda, Contra Costa, Marin, San Francisco, and Napa counties, as well as part of Solano and Sonoma counties.
The air district board is scheduled to hold a hearing on the proposed rules on March 15.
Here are answers to questions that residents might have on the proposed rules.
Q: What is the air district proposing?
A: The air district is proposing a ban on home furnaces and water heaters that emit any nitrogen oxides. Because there are no natural gas furnaces or water heaters that meet this standard, residents would be required to switch to electric appliances.
Q: What is the timeframe for the proposed rules?
A: The rule would take effect for gas furnaces on Jan. 1, 2029.
For residential water heaters, the rules would apply beginning on Jan. 1, 2027.
For larger capacity water heaters used in large commercial buildings or multi-family residences, the rule would take effect on Jan. 1, 2031.
Q: Will I need to replace my furnace or water heater with electric appliances if they’re still working fine?
A: No. The homeowner can decide when to replace the appliance.
Q: Can I go somewhere outside of the air district boundaries, such as Stockton, and buy a gas furnace or water heater to install in my Bay area home after the rules take effect?
A: No. The proposed rules would apply to the sale or installation of furnaces and water heaters in buildings within the air district’s territory.
Q: Why is the air district proposing this?
A: The goal is to reduce the amount of nitrogen oxides that the appliances release into the air. The chemicals can irritate airways and worsen respiratory diseases, especially asthma, according to the air district. In addition, the nitrogen oxides react with other chemicals in the air to create fine particulate matter and ozone, which are also harmful to breathe in.
Q: Won’t the switch to electric appliances strain the electrical grid?
A: An environmental impact report said that the proposed rules could increase statewide electricity demand by 2.2% by 2050. The increased demand could be met with new solar projects on an estimated 19,500 acres of land. These projects could have “potentially significant” impacts, the report said.
Q:How much extra will an electric appliance cost?
A: A consultant estimated that at current prices, an electric heat pump system would cost about $8,027 to buy and install compared with $5,096 for a gas furnace — a difference of $2,931. Buying and installing an electric water heater would cost about $852 more than a gas water heater. If the home is older and needs an electrical panel upgrade to support the new appliances, that could add about $4,256 to the cost.
The air district noted that costs for the electric appliances could come down by the time the rules take effect. And the consultant’s figures don’t factor in incentives that might be available. In addition, the electric appliances could cost less to operate than gas appliances.
Q: Are there other impacts of the proposed rules?
A: Electric heat pump systems might require compressors or other equipment to be installed outside, where they could be noisy. And cities might want to adjust their setback requirements — how far from the lot line structures must be — in order to accommodate the heat pump systems, the air district said.
Q: Will residents have any alternatives to electric furnaces and water heaters?
A: If natural gas appliances are developed that don’t emit nitrogen oxides, those would be an option. But currently, electric appliances are the only devices available that meet the requirements.
Q: Does the air district plan any additional analysis?
A: The air district will update the board two years before the rules’ effective dates regarding the availability and costs of appliances that meet the new requirements.
Q: Who will decide on these rules?
A: The air district’s 24-member board will vote on whether to adopt the rules. The board consists of representatives from cities and counties in the air district’s territory. Board members include Mountain View council member Margaret Abe-Koga, San Mateo County Supervisor Ray Mueller and Belmont Vice Mayor Davina Hurt.
Q: How can I weigh in on the proposal?
A: Written comments may be submitted to email@example.com and are due by Monday, Feb. 6, at 5 p.m. People may also comment during the March 15 public hearing.
PLEASE write to the above address. We can’t afford it, not with $1,000 a month utility bills, a tanking economy and massive layoffs.
We’re not ready so stop this virtue-signalling!
What’s the point of switching to electric when China is building a coal plant once a week? When China cleans up its act, I’ll consider going electric.
When I replaced my hot water heater 5 years ago I considered an electric heat pump. But the PA Planning Dept. told me I would need to increase the size of the flue vent to the roof at a cost of several thousand dollars. But electric heat pumps don’t emit gases or need a flue vent. DUH! Guess they didn’t hire a consultant to give them the answer.
It should be pointed out that regional air quality officials are using a study by the Rocky Mountain Institute, or RMI, to justify banning the sale of gas furnaces and water heaters. RMI is really a political operation that has campaigned for electrifying buildings. RMI can’t be relied upon as a neutral source of information.
RMI’s study was actually a meta analysis, where researchers picked out other studies that they liked, and included that data in their report.
Using this cherry-picking method, RMI said that 13% of childhood asthma cases are attributable to gas stove use.
This meta analysis didn’t take into account several factors that could affect emissions from gas cooking. For instance, cooking methods have changed over the years. At one time, meals were prepared with a low flame for hours.
Today people spend less time cooking their own meals. Yet the RMI meta-analysis used outdated studies, some decades old.
Similarly, the meta analysis didn’t look at home ventilation. Ventilation is better in newer homes.
The study didn’t say how any emissions are caused by water heaters or furnaces. Yet those are precisely the appliances the Bay Area Regional Air Quality District has targeted.
The activists who want to take away your choice about whether to use gas appliances have ginned up their “meta-analysis” in an attempt to scare people into giving up those appliances.
Let’s put a hold on banning gas stoves, heaters and water heaters until we can get some neutral information. Then, let the consumers make the decision, not highly paid bureaucrats.
Replacing gas with electric appliances may require electrical panel upgrading from 100 to 200 amps. Current property tax laws specify that electrical upgrades such as this would increase a property’s assessed value. If upgrading an electrical panel is required as a result of the mandated replacement of gas with electric appliances, current property tax regulations should be amended to exclude the associated assessment increase.