Council Reviews new Proposal to Fully Electrify Buildings

It is widely known that climate change poses a great risk and requires mitigation measures to reduce environmental effects. In Menlo Park, we are already feeling the impacts of climate change with intensifying wildfires, heatwaves, poor air quality, flooding and sea level rise. Menlo Park has adopted a bold Climate Action Plan to reduce our carbon emissions that contribute to climate change. The plan includes six core measures to start reducing greenhouse gas emissions on a pathway to be carbon-neutral by 2030. 

Climate change is an issue of equity – those that contribute least to climate change, including low-income, racial minorities, marginalized ethnic groups and the elders will be adversely affected. Bold and equitable action is needed to mitigate these adverse effects from putting our community at risk, especially our most vulnerable members. 

In this bold Climate Action Plan, the 6 core measures are: 

  1. Transition 95% of existing buildings from gas to all electric
  2. Get electric vehicle (EV) use up to 100% and reduce gasoline sales
  3. Make EV chargers accessible for commercial and multifamily units 
  4. Decrease vehicle miles traveled by 25% 
  5. Electrify City Operations 
  6. Develop a climate adaptation plan to protect the community from sea level rise and flooding 

The first core measure to convert 95% of existing homes and commercial buildings from natural gas appliances to all-electric clean energy sources will eliminate almost 40% of Menlo Park’s greenhouse gas emissions. 

In the next City Council Meeting, the Council will make a decision using the new consultant’s cost effectiveness analysis and policy options draft report to move us beyond gas and onto clean electricity. Based on this draft report, the Environmental Quality Commission has made recommendations to help provide an equitable transition to electrification. Let’s show our support and encourage the Council to move forward with the climate actions that the EQC is recommending. Going all-electric and phasing out fossil fuels is important to not only mitigate climate change, but also to improve our health, air quality, and resilience. 

NATURAL GAS THREATENS HEALTH AND IS LESS EQUITABLE 

The burning of natural gas produces potent indoor air pollutants that pose serious threats to health, especially to our most vulnerable populations; young children, the elderly, and people with asthma. The air pollution is also substantially higher in Belle Haven, being in the top 82 percentile, almost double the level in the rest of Menlo Park. As a result, children in this neighborhood pose an even higher risk of asthma from continued exposure to natural gas stoves. 

NATURAL GAS IS DANGEROUS 

Gas leaks can cause fire and explosions, such as the 2010 accident in San Bruno, as well as carbon monoxide poisoning. 

COST TO GO ALL-ELECTRIC 

Based on the TRC and DNV consultant’s draft report, the cost for electrification can be several thousand dollars extra initially (but then pays back over time (looking at 30 years, with efficient product choices that give some utility bill savings). If buildings have rooftop solar, the utility bill savings with efficient electric appliances can be roughly $140 per month. 

KEY EQC RECOMMENDATIONS 

The Environmental Quality Commission has robust recommendations on this item, supported by research and actions to transition 95% of existing buildings from gas to all electric through an equitable approach. 

If these recommendations are approved by the City Council, it will provide support to low income residents through a special equity fund to fully electrify ~1,400 households in the city that are currently on bill assistance through PG&E. 

To provide protection to renters, the EQC recommends the City to pass new policies protecting renters from increased rent or “renovictions” due to electrification retrofit. 

Reduce the “hassle factor” of electrification policies for building owners by providing technical assistance, easing permitting, and making it more convenient to go electric. 

The City will decide whether and how to go forward with the first set of bold measures in the Climate Action Plan, with a focus on this electrification core measure. Let’s show our support and encourage the Council to move forward with the climate actions that the EQC is recommending. 350 Silicon Valley has prepared a letter that may be personalized! Send this quick letter  to the City Council endorsing EQCs recommendations. 

Replacing Gas with Clean Electric Appliances in our Homes and Buildings is a Key Climate Action for Menlo Park!

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