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City Proposes Clean Energy Choice Program for New Buildings

Post Date:08/16/2019

San Luis Obispo residents and businesses routinely rank climate action as a top priority and identify the climate crisis as a top concern. In early 2019, thousands of people in San Luis Obispo contributed to the City’s budget process that resulted in City Council adopting Climate Action as a Major City Goal. 

The City has a long history of environmental protection and climate action. Most recently, the City joined Monterey Bay Community Power, which means that, starting in 2020, electricity procured for the City will be cheaper than the existing utility and will come from clean resources like wind and solar.

With substantial amounts of residential and commercial development ready to be built, the City is encouraging new developments to avoid costly fossil fuel infrastructure and to take advantage of modern, highly efficient and highly functional electrical appliances. In light of recent findings that natural gas, which is mostly methane, is contributing to the climate crisis at much higher rates than previously understood, and recent findings that indoor combustion of natural gas can lead to unhealthy indoor air quality, the Clean Energy Choice Program, will encourage new buildings to run entirely on clean, electric energy.

At its meeting on Tuesday, September 3, the City Council will review the Clean Energy Choice program. The City joins more than 50 other California communities currently considering ways to encourage cleaner buildings. Unlike some cities that are banning natural gas entirely, the proposed Clean Energy Choice Program will provide options to people who want to develop new buildings with natural gas. New projects wishing to use natural gas will be required to build more efficient and higher performing buildings and offset gas use by performing retrofits on existing buildings or by paying an in-lieu fee that will be used for the same purpose.

Cost is a concern for our community. By avoiding the installation of costly fossil fuel infrastructure, and in-building piping and ventilation, all electric new buildings are typically more affordable to build, and thanks to the state mandated solar requirement for residential buildings, we’ll see fewer rate fluctuations on utility bills.

The Clean Energy Choice Program will apply to new buildings only. If people want to switch to electric appliances in their existing buildings, the City is working on incentive programs.

Ahead of the September 3rd City Council meeting, the community is invited to learn more about the topic at the “Decarbonizing Our Future With Better Buildings” event and equipment expo on Thursday, August 22. More information about the event, hosted by the SLO Climate Coalition, is available here: https://carbonfreeslo.org/slo-climate-solutions-series-iii-building-decarbonization/

More information about the Clean Energy Choice Program is available here.

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