Banning natural gas infrastructure for homes and some other buildings – for uses like stoves and heating – is happening in various cities, though not the Carolinas.
San Jose, California (its city hall our feature photo above), followed the leads of Berkeley and Seattle in changing city ordinances to reduce the use of natural gas. January 1 is the target date for the new rules to go in effect.
These rules affect buildings and how they electrify petroleum-based activities. For instance, “The ordinance would require all new multi-family buildings to have 70% electric vehicle (EV) capable parking spaces, at least 20% EV ready spaces and at least 10% EV supply equipment spaces.” (Source)
Seattle was on its way to passing a natural gas restriction but the city council walked that idea back for a while after public input. The Seattle Times notes a change already in progress without the ban: “Though 66% of single-family homes now use gas heat and only 19% use electric heat, new residential construction is trending in the other direction. Builders installed electric heat in 65% of homes built last year and installed gas in only 33%, according to county records.” (Source)
The city ordinances do not necessarily address pipelines, though ECC wonders if the planning and approval of new pipelines could be affected as the use of natural gas comes into question.
A dash to gas has been big in the utility industry as coal and nuclear plants have retired. New power had to come from somewhere and the ample supply of gas, with its modest cost, has filled the need. Utilities get roughly a third of their electric generation from gas now.
Electric customers have gotten a good financial deal with power from gas generation. Prices for natural gas are low. That could change. As one newspaper report headlined: “Casualties in fight over new gas pipelines: The customers.” The story noted how small businesses, such as restaurants that rely on affordable natural gas for cooking, could suffer.
Energy is a hot topic. News spreads fast. What seems to be an unusual activity in California or Seattle could catch the eye of people interested in changing rules and markets in the Carolinas.