Sheehy Strategy Group


Firm Updates and Announcements



Will California Ban New Natural Gas Furnace and Stove Installations Across the State?

Most Californians LOVE their gas stove, furnace and other gas appliances. Why? Because they perform superbly, are economical and there are hundreds of models to choose from in the marketplace. However, if California regulators at the Cal-EPA and Air Resources Board get their way, gas appliance may become a thing of the past in California. In fact, progressive city elected officials in Berkeley California have just become the first city in the USA to enact a complete ban on the installation of natural gas lines in new homes effectively forcing all new systems to operate on electricity. This new ordnance impacts all new single-family homes, town homes and small apartment buildings. Berkeley officials also made it clear they will rope in commercial buildings when the state moves to develop regulations for those. But progressives in Berkeley are not alone, it is estimated there are 50 more cities across the state of California that are considering a similar action now that Berkeley has paved the way with municipal legislation.

What is going on here? Last year, California passed AB 3232 into law, requiring the California Energy Commission (CEC), in consultation with the California Air Resources Board, to assess the potential for the state to reduce emissions of greenhouse gases (GHG) in the state’s residential and commercial building stock by at least 40 percent below 2013 levels by January 1, 2030. The CEC, CARB and many in the California Legislature believe that California must eliminate gas powered furnaces and appliance to meet these GHG objectives because natural gas (methane), although very clean, contains “carbon” - the key element being targeted in GHG reduction efforts in the state. Of course, the real losers here will be consumers who love gas appliances and manufacturers who build them – largely outside of the heavily regulated state.

A more common-sense approach would be for CA regulators to promote the responsible development and use of all energy sources including “green energy”. Regulators must recognize that the goals of reducing GHG and improving energy efficiency in meeting future energy demands does not have to result in an outright ban on natural gas. Especially when California and the USA are blessed to be major global producers of this clean energy source. Overly restrictive regulations and the implementation of policies that limit or eliminate energy sources like natural gas, limit consumer choices and increase manufacturer production costs. Ultimately, the consumer pays for it all through significantly higher prices. This is a lose – lose proposition.

California policy makers will continue to “push the envelope” when it comes to clean energy regulation and goals. This is not good for consumers.  Future state legislative proposals are expected to target ways in which new buildings can have less of a carbon footprint and thus putting a giant “bullseye” on the natural gas industry. CARB regulators and the CEC have cited residential and commercial buildings for being responsible for 25 percent of all GHG emissions, and with a 40 percent emission reduction target in place for the state, it is hard for progressive legislators to be patient on the issue just because consumers could be inconvenienced.  California’s parallel goal to increase the housing supply by 3.5 million new homes by 2025, will put additional pressure on assurances that new construction will be more environmentally friendly. Consumer environmental advocates are using this platform to also push for prohibitions on the use of natural gas in buildings. This fight is heating up and not going away anytime soon.

Ana Marie Aguas