City Council Approves Clean Energy Choice Program
At its meeting Tuesday, September 3, the City Council approved the Clean Energy Choice Program that will encourage new development to be all-electric. The program will significantly reduce greenhouse gas emissions, while providing choice for builders who want to use natural gas.
There is a substantial amount of new residential and commercial development in the pipeline and the City is encouraging new developments to avoid fossil fuel infrastructure and to take advantage of modern, highly efficient and highly functional electrical appliances.
For existing homes and commercial buildings, the new policy has no effect. To ensure a smooth transition, subdivisions in process that are already installing public improvements will also be exempt from the program. For other new developments choosing to use natural gas, buildings must be built to a more efficient standard to reduce energy use, and the projected amount of fossil fuel to be used for building systems must be offset – either by retrofitting an older building or by paying an in-lieu fee. This offset requirement allows the City to offer choice to property owners, while not increasing greenhouse gas emissions from natural gas used to power new buildings.
Some types of new buildings would be exempt including essential service buildings such as hospitals and emergency operations centers. Accessory dwelling units attached to an existing home, gas line connections for emergency generators, and gas lines serving commercial kitchens are also all exempt.
The Clean Energy Choice Program will apply to new buildings only. For those who want to switch to electric appliances in existing buildings, the City is working on incentive programs. In addition, any revenue generated through the program’s in-lieu fee would be used to help make housing more affordable for existing residents through energy saving retrofit projects. The proposed program will be targeted to help low and moderate-income households.
The community routinely ranks climate action as a top priority and in early 2019, the City Council adopted Climate Action as a Major City Goal. San Luis Obispo is one of more than 50 California communities considering ways to encourage all-electric, cleaner buildings. Coming in January 2020, Monterey Bay Community Power will begin purchasing clean, carbon free electricity for homes and businesses in the City, which will reduce energy costs and lower building related greenhouse gas emissions.
For more information on the Clean Energy Choice Program, visit: https://www.slocity.org/government/department-directory/city-administration/office-of-sustainability/climate-action/carbon-neutral-buildings.