Beginning Jan. 1, 2020, new buildings in Berkeley, Calif., will have to be 100% electric.
The City Council recently passed the ordinance, the first of its kind in the U.S. The measure bans gas hook-ups in new houses, apartments, and commercial buildings. Existing buildings will not be affected.
More than 50 other California cities are considering the use of local building codes and ordinances to encourage or require all-electric new construction, which could eliminate the use of fossil fuels for heating buildings.
A representative of the utility Pacific Gas & Electric told the Berkeley City Council that his company does not want to invest in new gas infrastructure that would get stranded before the end of its life. One council member’s staff demonstrated an electric induction cook top to address concerns about a ban on natural gas stoves.
Others speaking in favor of the ordinance pointed out that phasing out gas from new buildings will not only slash carbon emissions, but it will also reduce local air pollution by avoiding combustion gases inside buildings and in the community. In addition, safety would be improved by reducing the risk of gas fires in California’s numerous earthquake-prone areas.