Gas heating and boilers banned from 2030
The state is banning gas heating units and gas boilers for heating as of 2030, in order to fulfill environmental protection commitments. According to the plans, electric heating would be the alternative solution.
The California Air Resources Board (CARB), an arm of California’s environmental protection agency, voted unanimously last week to ban natural gas heaters and stoves starting in 2030 in an effort to reduce smog, meet federal ozone standards and uphold the state’s commitment to reducing greenhouse gas emissions.
Through meaningful engagement with communities, CARB will work with energy and building code regulators and air pollution monitoring agencies to adopt a statewide zero-emissions standard, which 100 per cent of new heaters and water heaters starting in 2030 must meet.
This measure would not require the retrofitting of heating equipment in existing buildings, but in the case of buildings under construction or undergoing renovation, only technologies complying with the new standards can be installed. Beginning in 2030, 100 per cent of new heaters and water heating appliances sold in California must meet the zero-emissions standard. This regulation is expected to rely heavily on current plans for the complete electrification of new and existing homes, which aim to spread heat pump technologies.
However, the view that electric heaters would produce zero-emissions ignores how electricity is generated, as renewables currently make up about a third of California’s electricity supply, with natural gas accounting for 40 per cent.
The plan raises questions about how the state’s power grid will handle new demand from electric space heaters in the winter. California homes are generally less insulated than homes in states with colder climates and California’s Public Utility Commission eliminated subsidies for new natural gas hookups last week, marking the first state to do so in the US. While touted as a way to lower emissions and reduce utility bills, the fundamental question of how to heat homes and provide fuel for cooking remains an open one as California’s power grid struggles to provide electricity to residents in periods of high demand.
As also reported by V4NA, the California Independent System Operator (ISO) declared a level-three energy emergency alert on the evening of 6 September and warned that there was a high chance of blackouts. Level three is the network operator’s highest energy emergency category.
Expecting extreme heat, the ISO had previously issued an alert, calling on residents for voluntary energy conservation amidst the heat wave during the Labour Day weekend. The operator advised Californians to set thermostats to at least 25 degrees, avoid using large appliances and charging electric vehicles, and try to precool homes by closing the blinds or drawing the curtains.
However, voluntary energy conservation does not appear to have yielded results, as approximately sixty-seven thousand Californians were left without electricity during those days.
Apart from record-high energy consumption, the reason for the outages is that California’s energy mix is made up of solar energy and natural gas in extremely high proportions while one-third of its energy needs is supplied by hydroelectric power plants in neighbouring states. However, solar energy production drops sharply in the late afternoon and early evening, and power plants fuelled with natural gas can only operate to a limited capacity during extreme heat.
This heat wave is set to be the hottest & longest on record in CA for September.⁰
We are now heading into the worst part of it – the risk of outages is real. Your efforts have paid off so far, but we need everyone to double down to save energy after 4pm. https://t.co/XKRYd9EPQI pic.twitter.com/HtVh5DAjQD
— Office of the Governor of California (@CAgovernor) September 6, 2022