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The Contra Costa County Board of Supervisors officially asked staff Tuesday to craft an ordinance amending the county building code to require electricity to be the sole source of power for all new residential and commercial buildings, while prohibiting the installation of natural gas piping.
The board voted 4-1, with Supervisor Candace Andersen dissenting. Andersen said she wanted to see more details on sustainability and infrastructure and believes homeowners should have more options.
“It’s important they have an opportunity to weigh in,” Andersen said, referring to municipal advisory councils and others in unincorporated areas.
Supervisor Federal Glover, a member of the board’s sustainability committee, said having staff write the ordinance doesn’t preclude more discussion of issues brought up Tuesday.
“I don’t think that we need to wait in terms of having our staff go out and start to put together that ordinance that we will have to review before approval in any event,” Glover said.
Board members mentioned new state rules mandating solar for most new development, and how wildfires and a lack of water to power hydroelectric facilities could affect new laws. Other questions from supervisors included powering new development in areas like Canyon and Morgan Territory and how such an ordinance would affect remodels.
A county ordinance would affect unincorporated areas where the California Energy Commission has accepted studies demonstrating the cost effectiveness of the new requirements.
In September 2020, Contra Costa County adopted a climate emergency resolution, saying the county should require electricity over gas in new construction, saying in a staff report for Tuesday’s meeting, “The built environment is one of the largest sources of greenhouse gas emissions in the county and in California.”
The report also said the board should consider asking the county’s sustainability committee for a recommendation as to whether newly constructed restaurants and industrial buildings should also be held to the same standard.
Supervisors could wait for the state to impose the same requirements into its building code, which the report says isn’t likely to happen until 2025, for implementation in 2026. The next state building code update is scheduled for 2022.