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November 15, 2019

Morgan Hill goes all-electric

Mayor fears higher costs for homeowners

All new homes and apartments built after next March in Morgan Hill will have to be all-electric, with no reliance on natural gas.

Last week, the Morgan Hill City Council voted 4-1, with Mayor Rich Constantine opposed, to adopt an ordinance that will require all new housing developments that apply for building permits after March 2020 to be entirely electrically powered and heated, with no natural gas hookups.

Council members said they are attempting to address climate change on a local level. 

“It is a crisis. It’s not just a slow change; it’s a crisis,” said Councilmember Rene Spring at the Oct. 23 meeting. “This is something we can do and we can afford to do.”

A city staff report noted, “Emissions from natural gas combustion and propane in areas unserved by natural gas have become the largest source of greenhouse gas emissions associated with buildings. These emissions make up about one-third of the greenhouse gas emissions in our region.”

The staff report found that replacing natural gas utilities with electric could lower building costs for developers. However, the mayor said he worried the change would drive up monthly home costs for renters and homeowners, with higher electric bills for heating, cooking and hot water. 

“We will be artificially making it more expensive for people to live in their homes,” said Constantine. 

The ordinance includes an exception for developments that can prove to the council that not using natural gas infrastructure in the project “is not feasible.”

Four council members believed the ordinance is a step in the right direction toward addressing the climate crisis.

Despite the recent power shutoffs by PG&E, Morgan Hill city staff said a switch to all-electric buildings would not change the impact of the shutoffs because most natural gas appliances rely on electricity for control and ignition systems. 

The council chose not to make the ordinance effective retroactively because city staff said it was easiest to make the necessary changes while developers’ plans were just beginning. The March 2020 date was chosen to give developers time to adjust to the new rules. 

“The delayed implementation date allows the public and developers time to continue with their existing plans, for projects that are close to submission, and ample time to adjust their plans to the all-electric design for projects that are still many months away from applying for a permit,” said the staff report. 

Constantine said his vote against the ordinance did not change how he felt about climate change or his commitment to making decisions that helped the environment. 

“Please don’t take my no vote as ‘he doesn’t care about the environment.’ Everything I have done and voted for sitting on this council and in my entire life has been to help the environment,” Constantine said at the meeting. “I have a daughter I want her to live in a clean environment, I don’t want this planet to die.”

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23 COMMENTS

23 COMMENTS

  1. How is it more carbon friendly to burn gas hundreds of miles away to generate electricity through less than 100% efficient generation processes then transmit the electricity over lossy wires (that spark wildfires). This is the most ridiculous thing ever. At least those of us with gas stoves and water heaters had alternatives during the recent outages. Good for you Mayor Constantine for voting NO!

  2. I found that the thermal efficiency of utility grade electric power plants ranges from 37% for coal and oil fired plants to 56 to 60% for gas fired plants. Using the 60% number, it seems that to electrically heat a home would require 1.6 times at best and about 3 times at worst the amount of fossil fuel (and CO2 emissions) than heating with gas. Today’s heating furnaces give upwards of 95% heating efficiency, although 80 to 85% efficiency is the norm for moderately priced furnaces. I would be interested, and I think that the community deserves to understand the rational behind the council’s decision.

  3. This guy is an idiot. Natural gas and propane are clean fuel sources. What do you think has been starting all these wild fires, electric wires. How is that doing for air quality? Have you smelled the air lately? If you have gas, you can at least cook and take a shower if the power goes out. 50% of our electricity comes from coal, how is that clean. I wouldn’t want to buy a house that didn’t have gas. Until you get China, India, and other countries to control what they do to the environment, your attempts at controlling the environment are useless. A valcano puts out much more C02 than man could ever do. The big ball of Hydrogen in space, also known as the sun, fluctuates and effects our environment. This planet was covered in ice at one point, it melted all by itself, before there were even humans on the planet. The simple fact is, the earth is forever changing and will continue to change. Guess what, one day the earth will be sucked up by a super Nova when the sun dies. Hopefully, we will have the technology to get out of Dodge and move to a different planet. This guy is the reason, not everyone should run for office. This guy is clearly not informed, or is just going on the platitudes of the left. God help us.

  4. Umm….what about solar panels on all new buildings? I have a feeling this 3rd world country/electric shutoff stuff is going to be the norm soon and for those of us with a private well, we suffer 2 ways, as someone else mentioned. One is no electricity, the other is no water. Best to use solar and try to be as independent as possible.

  5. “All new homes and apartments built after next March in Morgan Hill will have to be all-electric, with no reliance on natural gas.”

    What a bunch of fools our city council are. Where do they think electricity comes from? It mostly comes from natural gas such as the Calpine Plant at Monterey and Metcalf roads. So when PG&E cuts the power as they have predicted they will do for the foreseeable future, people won’t be able to cook or heat their homes. Electricity is more expensive and will disproportionate affect lower income household. All of this so the misguided city council can feel good about their virtue signal. Yet the majority will go to extreme lengths to bring a polluting Trammell Crow trucking center to our neighborhoods.

    What a bunch of fools they are.

  6. Why not require solar power, if the requirement is all electric? Also, what does this do for reconstruction permits? For example, if you lose your home to a fire and have to rebuild, do you now have to comply with all electric? Because, guess what? Most homeowners insurance plans don’t pay for additional costs associated with building code changes since the original structure was built! For example, my Morgan Hill town home burned down in 2009. It had a wood burning fireplace prior to the incident (not the cause of the fire). When we rebuilt in 2010, permit changes would not allow us to restore our still existing wood burning fire place. We were forced to go out of pocket to install a gas fireplace instead. Something for homeowners, and our city council, to think about.

  7. “…city staff said a switch to all-electric buildings would not change the impact of the shutoffs because most natural gas appliances rely on electricity for control and ignition systems.”

    You can still light a so e with a match.

    Again…what misguided fools they are.

  8. I don’t even. First, with blackouts the new normal, people are expected to have what kind of heat and cooking when the lights go down? Second, good luck selling new $2M homes with electric cooktops and baseboard heaters.

    Lol. I think Morgan Hill has found a way around the Democratic-led anti- anti-growth rules. Build houses nobody wants to buy in a city run by complete morons. Boom! you’ve got your growth controls back!

  9. There is no rationale. The MH city council have lost their minds. OR have been bought out by some special interest we have yet to discover.

  10. California Democratic-led legislature enacts rules to block slow-growth initiatives. MH council memebers: “How can we get around this? I know! Enact local laws that make building and buying new homes so intolerable, we can continue to limit growth!”

  11. “Morgan Hill city staff said a switch to all-electric buildings would not change the impact of the shutoffs because most natural gas appliances rely on electricity for control and ignition systems. ” Ever heard of a match to light the gas stove? And my gas water heater has a gas flame ignition.
    I hope those stupid bastards are forced to move to all- electric homes.

  12. For once I agree with the Mayor’s vote. Burning natural gas or coal to generate more electricity outside of Morgan Hill or even California does nothing at all for the environment.
    Do Council members think you just send more electricity through the same transmission wires?Judging from all the public opposition to PG&E’s South County Power interconnect project, I can’t see any additional transmission line capacity getting right of ways into Santa Clara Valley. You only have a limited ampacity in the existing transmission conductors. The existing transmission structures are only designed to hold a limited amount of weight.
    Another feel good vote with no facts to support it.

  13. Not sure this is a good idea. Cattle ranching produces worse greenhouse gas effects… and let’s be realistic: PG&W ain’t the most responsible company in which we should place our trust to help save the planet. Shouldn’t this be put to a vote, or has America gone beyond democracy.

  14. All of those who recommended this and voted for it should be dismissed from public service and voted out of office. Climate Crisis is a bunch of hog wash perpetrated by holier-than-thou airheads who can’t think for themselves. I hope that the mayor makes this into a big campaign issue and finds a way to rid the city of employees and consultants who advocate this kind of dangerous point of view.

  15. Another stop backward for the citizens of Morgan Hill and California. My house is 100% electric because of the lack of natural gas in my location. I challenge our local politicians to convert their gas burning furnaces and kitchen stoves to electric. They will find that it is 1) Expensive; 2) Unreliable, especially now that we have extended power outages and 3) A huge burden on our electrical infrastructure.

    The NET-ZERO emphasis by our local and state politicians is increasing citizens cost of living and quality of life. We have some of the nations highest tax rates, the highest gas prices, a net outflow of middle class citizens due to these costs, a high poverty rate, growing income inequality – and our politicians best efforts are to go green by removing plastic straws, and forcing us to use inefficient solar power (thank God it’s subsidized) and now to overload our electrical grid with 100% electric homes.

    Its time to rethink and replace our political class.

  16. Thank the Morgan Hill City Council for enacting this measure! Look at what one of its members had to say…

    “It is a crisis. It’s not just a slow change; it’s a crisis,” said Council member Rene Spring at the Oct. 23 meeting. “This is something we can do and we can afford to do.”

    You see the council members who voted for this are all EXPERTS on climatology; hey wait, after reading their profiles on the Morgan Hill City website, they have NO expertise on the subject at all.

  17. Al Gore must be so proud of our City Council Members for drinking the cool-aid:

    Council members said they are attempting to address climate change on a local level.

    “It is a crisis. It’s not just a slow change; it’s a crisis,” said Council member Rene Spring at the Oct. 23 meeting. “This is something we can do and we can afford to do.”

    After checking the Council Members profiles, none of them have ANY experience in climatology; but they know what is best for the citizens of Morgan Hill!

  18. A couple of issues here.

    One is of course $$$. You forcibly would add $15K – $20K to the price of already amazingly expensive new homes here.

    Two, the majority of new homes going up are townhomes/condos. This would not work as there simply would not be enough roof space to accommodate panels for all the units.

    Tthink of it this way. If they can require solar panels, then they should also require cisterns for every home to stave off droughts.

    What’s similar about these two problems is kalifornia politicians create the problem (killing nuclear, stalling dams) and then try to look like “heroes” by forcing some scheme that would not be necessary if they hadn’t meddled to begin with.

    In any case, my family will be out in about a year. Have fun.

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