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San Jose, Oakland are latest California cities to enact bans on gas in new construction

December 08, 2020

Utility Dive:

Both the San Jose City Council and Oakland City Council [last week] approved measures to prohibit natural gas infrastructure in newly constructed buildings, adding to the growing list of more than 40 California cities to pass such ordinances.

The San Jose measure, passed in an 8-3 vote, makes it the largest U.S. city to require all-electric new construction. That measure allows a “controversial exemption” however, enabling facilities that generate and store energy on-site to continue using natural gas, according to the San Jose Mercury News. Meanwhile, the unanimously-passed Oakland measure will apply to all residential and commercial construction, though developers can apply for “technology feasibility” waivers, the San Francisco Chronicle reports.

These measures come on the heels of San Francisco’s all-electric construction ordinance passed last month. Nearly every major Bay Area city — including Berkeley and Menlo Park — have now approved such mandates.

When San Francisco took action on natural gas construction in November, experts suggested it could hold enough weight to pressure similar legislation in neighboring cities — which it did. They also suggested such local efforts could push Gov. Gavin Newsom toward statewide action, particularly as the California Energy Commission considers updates to its building energy efficiency standards.

And while California cities have led such measures — Berkeley made history as the first city to ban natural gas infrastructure in new buildings in July 2019 — the trend is beginning to spread across state lines.

[Also last week], Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan announced an energy code update proposal to ban fossil fuels in new commercial and large multi-family construction. The proposal is a direct response to the city’s building sector emissions, which increased 8.3% in Seattle from 2016 to 2018. “As Seattle’s population continues to grow, the scale of our policy response to rising carbon emissions must grow even faster,” Durkan said in a statement.

[Kristin Musulin]

More: San Jose, Oakland join growing list of California cities to ban natural gas construction

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