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How to go gas-free? Two new reports lay out possible paths to phase out natural gas in Menlo Park buildings

A side-by-side comparison of a gas-powered water heater, left, and an electricity-powered water heat pump, right. The city of Menlo Park is exploring how to transition 95% of the buildings citywide to be all-electric by 2030. Courtesy Christine Tam.

As Menlo Park tries to reach its ambitious goal of converting buildings citywide to electric power, two new reports were recently released that take a deeper dive into exactly what it will take for the city to accomplish that.

As one of six goals targeted in this year's Climate Action Plan, the city of Menlo Park set out to explore policy and program options to convert 95% of existing buildings citywide to all-electric power by 2030. Achieving the goal could reduce greenhouse gas emissions citywide by nearly 52,000 metric tons of carbon dioxide per year, according to a draft report prepared for the city by city staff and consultants from TRC, Inc., with support from Peninsula Clean Energy and consulting firm DNV.

The city's Environmental Quality Commission met July 21 to review the draft report and provide input on the proposed routes to meet the city's ambitious climate goal.

The same week, Menlo Spark, a local nonprofit working to make Menlo Park climate neutral by 2025, released a report called "Gassed Out," which, among other findings, reports that there is no additional cost to convert gas to electric power in most existing homes when one considers current incentives for financing the appliances over time and combines them with solar power.

According to the report, most electric appliances don't cost more than gas ones, and for the exceptions, there are long-run savings and rebates that can help cover that difference. For instance, while heat pump electric water heaters can cost $1,000 to $2,000 more per household than gas ones, Peninsula Clean Energy offers a $2,500 rebate for electric water heaters, which fully covers the cost. In addition, electrical HVAC systems can save $3,000 compared to a traditional gas furnace and air conditioner, the report states.

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The report lays out a path toward affordable and equitable electrification by partnering with Peninsula Clean Energy and investing $3 million a year in a program to help low-income Menlo Park residents electrify their homes. The funds for the program could come from an increase to the city's utility users tax up to the level that voters have already approved. That program could be paired with a zero-interest loan program incorporated in utility bills to give moderate-income households access to affordable financing for electric heating and appliances, and affluent households could take advantage of rebates and home solar systems that would save money over time, the report states.

As of 2020, the city has also enacted policies to require that new buildings be all-electric. The next step, according to the draft report, is to switch existing buildings within the city to electric power.

Since the city joined Peninsula Clean Energy in 2017, it has been able to procure cleaner-burning energy that emits less greenhouse gases into the atmosphere than PG&E.

As of 2019, the most current breakdown of energy use available, about 17% of the greenhouse gas emissions coming from buildings citywide came from electric energy uses, while 83% came from using natural gas, though the total amount of greenhouse gas emissions from both were down substantially from those reported in 2007 and 2008, the years with the highest reported emissions since the earliest available data in 2005, the report showed.

Overall, in 2019, about 41% of greenhouse gas emissions came from the use of natural gas in buildings, 8% came from electricity in buildings and 48% came from transportation, while about 2% came from solid waste.

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Consuming natural gas emits about 12 pounds of carbon or greenhouse emissions per therm, or per 100 cubic feet of natural gas, according to the draft report. Peninsula Clean Energy is in the process of transitioning the sources of its electricity to 100% renewable sources by 2025.

The analysis involved a comparison of gas-powered versus electric appliances used in homes and commercial buildings, such as water heaters and space heaters, as well as stoves and clothes dryers.

According to the report, heat pump water heaters cost an estimated $2,600 more over 30 years than gas water heaters, but are considered cost-effective when using what's called a "time dependent valuation," which incorporates the societal and environmental impacts into the cost of energy.

A new report by consultants working from the city found that several of the measures could be cost-effective for households– if one looks at overall savings over a 15 to 30-year lifespan of certain appliances, and assumes people take advantage fo certain incentives to encourage electric appliance adoption.

One lingering concern in the report is how to make the electrification process more affordable to lower-income households, and to prevent landlords from enacting "renovictions" – or renovations followed by evictions as a way of getting higher-paying tenants. Consultants estimated that there about 1,500 housing units in Menlo Park whose residents earn less than 30% of the area median income. These households are mostly renters who spend 7% to 11% of their incomes on rent, and are considered "burdened" by their energy costs, according to the report.

To start, the report's authors recommend partnering with community-based organizations to develop decarbonization policies or consider energy performance standards for rental properties.

The report also proposes a number of policy ideas the city could take, but notes that even if it adopts all of the ideas listed, it will only achieve half of the needed greenhouse gas reductions by 2030. Regional, state and federal government-level action is also needed, they note.

Some of those ideas are:

• Offer a concierge-type service to help residents and businesses with specific problems and accessing rebates and financing support, as well as community education forums.

• Generate funds through a utility users' tax or some type of fee to disincentivize buildings from generating greenhouse gases.

• Set a deadline for the policy to take effect and establish regular check-ins. For instance, the city of Chicago has since 2013 required multifamily and commercial buildings 50,000 square feet or larger to report the annual energy use rating of the whole building and post it in a prominent location.

• Mandate electrification of certain appliances whenever permits are given for minor home alterations or additions. For instance, the city could mandate that a owner install a reverse cycle air conditioning condensing or heat pump unit instead of a traditional air conditioning system, or that whenever an owner seeks to install solar panels, he or she would have to leave space to accommodate a breaker to handle the building's entire electrical load, and add wiring in the water heater location to allow a heat pump water heater. The city could also focus simply on encouraging single and multi-family homeowners to voluntarily replace gas-fired water heating or space heating equipment before the equipment's life ends.

• Require electric heat pump systems to heat water in all new pools.

• Mandate buildings be ready for electrification upgrades whenever they are sold.

Commissioner Ryann Price said that, when considering costs, it's also important for people to reflect on the growing climate change "fees" that the community is already paying, in the form of costs like higher flood insurance premiums and state tax dollars diverted to stave off wildfires, and note that those costs are likely to rise in the future.

Commissioner Tom Kabat spoke of the urgency to take action sooner rather than later to enact policies that combat climate change.

"There is a set of dominoes, and we have to push the first domino and the others will line up and make their moves. But if we all stand around, the dominoes stand and the climate falls," he said.

The City Council is expected to review the topic at the end of August.

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Kate Bradshaw
   
Kate Bradshaw reports food news and feature stories all over the Peninsula, from south of San Francisco to north of San José. Since she began working with Embarcadero Media in 2015, she's reported on everything from Menlo Park's City Hall politics to Mountain View's education system. She has won awards from the California News Publishers Association for her coverage of local government, elections and land use reporting. Read more >>

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How to go gas-free? Two new reports lay out possible paths to phase out natural gas in Menlo Park buildings

by / Almanac

Uploaded: Thu, Aug 12, 2021, 5:58 pm

As Menlo Park tries to reach its ambitious goal of converting buildings citywide to electric power, two new reports were recently released that take a deeper dive into exactly what it will take for the city to accomplish that.

As one of six goals targeted in this year's Climate Action Plan, the city of Menlo Park set out to explore policy and program options to convert 95% of existing buildings citywide to all-electric power by 2030. Achieving the goal could reduce greenhouse gas emissions citywide by nearly 52,000 metric tons of carbon dioxide per year, according to a draft report prepared for the city by city staff and consultants from TRC, Inc., with support from Peninsula Clean Energy and consulting firm DNV.

The city's Environmental Quality Commission met July 21 to review the draft report and provide input on the proposed routes to meet the city's ambitious climate goal.

The same week, Menlo Spark, a local nonprofit working to make Menlo Park climate neutral by 2025, released a report called "Gassed Out," which, among other findings, reports that there is no additional cost to convert gas to electric power in most existing homes when one considers current incentives for financing the appliances over time and combines them with solar power.

According to the report, most electric appliances don't cost more than gas ones, and for the exceptions, there are long-run savings and rebates that can help cover that difference. For instance, while heat pump electric water heaters can cost $1,000 to $2,000 more per household than gas ones, Peninsula Clean Energy offers a $2,500 rebate for electric water heaters, which fully covers the cost. In addition, electrical HVAC systems can save $3,000 compared to a traditional gas furnace and air conditioner, the report states.

The report lays out a path toward affordable and equitable electrification by partnering with Peninsula Clean Energy and investing $3 million a year in a program to help low-income Menlo Park residents electrify their homes. The funds for the program could come from an increase to the city's utility users tax up to the level that voters have already approved. That program could be paired with a zero-interest loan program incorporated in utility bills to give moderate-income households access to affordable financing for electric heating and appliances, and affluent households could take advantage of rebates and home solar systems that would save money over time, the report states.

As of 2020, the city has also enacted policies to require that new buildings be all-electric. The next step, according to the draft report, is to switch existing buildings within the city to electric power.

Since the city joined Peninsula Clean Energy in 2017, it has been able to procure cleaner-burning energy that emits less greenhouse gases into the atmosphere than PG&E.

As of 2019, the most current breakdown of energy use available, about 17% of the greenhouse gas emissions coming from buildings citywide came from electric energy uses, while 83% came from using natural gas, though the total amount of greenhouse gas emissions from both were down substantially from those reported in 2007 and 2008, the years with the highest reported emissions since the earliest available data in 2005, the report showed.

Overall, in 2019, about 41% of greenhouse gas emissions came from the use of natural gas in buildings, 8% came from electricity in buildings and 48% came from transportation, while about 2% came from solid waste.

Consuming natural gas emits about 12 pounds of carbon or greenhouse emissions per therm, or per 100 cubic feet of natural gas, according to the draft report. Peninsula Clean Energy is in the process of transitioning the sources of its electricity to 100% renewable sources by 2025.

The analysis involved a comparison of gas-powered versus electric appliances used in homes and commercial buildings, such as water heaters and space heaters, as well as stoves and clothes dryers.

According to the report, heat pump water heaters cost an estimated $2,600 more over 30 years than gas water heaters, but are considered cost-effective when using what's called a "time dependent valuation," which incorporates the societal and environmental impacts into the cost of energy.

A new report by consultants working from the city found that several of the measures could be cost-effective for households– if one looks at overall savings over a 15 to 30-year lifespan of certain appliances, and assumes people take advantage fo certain incentives to encourage electric appliance adoption.

One lingering concern in the report is how to make the electrification process more affordable to lower-income households, and to prevent landlords from enacting "renovictions" – or renovations followed by evictions as a way of getting higher-paying tenants. Consultants estimated that there about 1,500 housing units in Menlo Park whose residents earn less than 30% of the area median income. These households are mostly renters who spend 7% to 11% of their incomes on rent, and are considered "burdened" by their energy costs, according to the report.

To start, the report's authors recommend partnering with community-based organizations to develop decarbonization policies or consider energy performance standards for rental properties.

The report also proposes a number of policy ideas the city could take, but notes that even if it adopts all of the ideas listed, it will only achieve half of the needed greenhouse gas reductions by 2030. Regional, state and federal government-level action is also needed, they note.

Some of those ideas are:

• Offer a concierge-type service to help residents and businesses with specific problems and accessing rebates and financing support, as well as community education forums.

• Generate funds through a utility users' tax or some type of fee to disincentivize buildings from generating greenhouse gases.

• Set a deadline for the policy to take effect and establish regular check-ins. For instance, the city of Chicago has since 2013 required multifamily and commercial buildings 50,000 square feet or larger to report the annual energy use rating of the whole building and post it in a prominent location.

• Mandate electrification of certain appliances whenever permits are given for minor home alterations or additions. For instance, the city could mandate that a owner install a reverse cycle air conditioning condensing or heat pump unit instead of a traditional air conditioning system, or that whenever an owner seeks to install solar panels, he or she would have to leave space to accommodate a breaker to handle the building's entire electrical load, and add wiring in the water heater location to allow a heat pump water heater. The city could also focus simply on encouraging single and multi-family homeowners to voluntarily replace gas-fired water heating or space heating equipment before the equipment's life ends.

• Require electric heat pump systems to heat water in all new pools.

• Mandate buildings be ready for electrification upgrades whenever they are sold.

Commissioner Ryann Price said that, when considering costs, it's also important for people to reflect on the growing climate change "fees" that the community is already paying, in the form of costs like higher flood insurance premiums and state tax dollars diverted to stave off wildfires, and note that those costs are likely to rise in the future.

Commissioner Tom Kabat spoke of the urgency to take action sooner rather than later to enact policies that combat climate change.

"There is a set of dominoes, and we have to push the first domino and the others will line up and make their moves. But if we all stand around, the dominoes stand and the climate falls," he said.

The City Council is expected to review the topic at the end of August.

Comments

Joseph E. Davis
Registered user
Woodside: Emerald Hills
on Aug 12, 2021 at 7:58 pm
Joseph E. Davis, Woodside: Emerald Hills
Registered user
on Aug 12, 2021 at 7:58 pm

Thinking that you're going to get 95% of home owners to convert from gas to electricity in the next 8.5 years is a pipe dream of a high order.


Enough
Registered user
Menlo Park: other
on Aug 12, 2021 at 8:04 pm
Enough, Menlo Park: other
Registered user
on Aug 12, 2021 at 8:04 pm

I have to agree with you Joseph. The cost of conversion is high, buying new appliances and from what I have seen electrical is not as efficient as gas when it comes to on demand hot water or forced air furnaces. I also prefer my gas cooktop to an electric one. I also have to ask the cost to the environment to switching out perfectly good gas appliances with many years of life left to new electric appliances.


Menlo Voter.
Registered user
Menlo Park: other
on Aug 12, 2021 at 8:21 pm
Menlo Voter., Menlo Park: other
Registered user
on Aug 12, 2021 at 8:21 pm

You're both right. Electricity sucks for heating and cooking. And in this state, the cost of electricity is higher. You'll never get most people to convert. They're going to have to do what they are doing and force it down everyone's' throats. Build new? Can't put in gas. Remodel big enough? Can't put in gas and you may have to take out what you have.

The biggest problem behind all of it is that, even if they are able to theoretically get everyone on electricity, we are on a power grid that is ancient, in terrible shape and not sized to carry the kind of power that will be demanded. This is just another woke pipe dream and virtue signaling. It won't really happen and it won't really accomplish anything, but we can all pat ourselves on the back because "we're doing something". It's nonsense.


Taxed to Oblivion
Registered user
Menlo Park: other
on Aug 12, 2021 at 8:27 pm
Taxed to Oblivion, Menlo Park: other
Registered user
on Aug 12, 2021 at 8:27 pm

This policy is absolute garbage. Is the plan to FORCE residents to convert and fill landfills with perfect appliances? These cost efficient studies are also absolute garbage and twist the outrageous costs in their “moral” favor. Meanwhile India and China burn garbage daily. Who elects these people??


Tom
Registered user
Menlo Park: The Willows
on Aug 13, 2021 at 8:19 am
Tom, Menlo Park: The Willows
Registered user
on Aug 13, 2021 at 8:19 am

Things are changing quickly around us and we need to keep up with the changes in order to take actions that provide a decent present and future for our kids. Electric appliance technologies have evolved where the same air conditioner that pumps heat out of a building in summer can efficiently pump heat into a building in winter. It's a 2-fer. And its 3 times more efficient than gas heating or those old electric resistance heaters that commenters may be remembering. There's lots of good info about the modern electric equipment in this free guide. Web Link


Jane Ratchye
Registered user
Menlo Park: The Willows
on Aug 13, 2021 at 8:19 am
Jane Ratchye, Menlo Park: The Willows
Registered user
on Aug 13, 2021 at 8:19 am

I’m proud of my city for recognizing the importance of and the need to act boldly and decisively to mitigate the effects of climate change. I changed all my fossil-fuel burning appliances to super efficient electric ones and PG&E removed my gas meter. I agree that it is not cheap to make this conversion in the short term. The best way to start is to replace your water heater with a heat pump water heater. We all know that water heaters have a relatively short lifetime and no one wants to wait long to replace it when it fails.

I know folks love their gas stoves, but I love my induction cooktop. It is not your father’s electric stove! It is very fast reacting and responsive like gas, but doesn’t have the bad indoor emissions that gas cooktops do. I recommend testing one out.


Angela
Registered user
Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Aug 13, 2021 at 9:36 am
Angela, Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
Registered user
on Aug 13, 2021 at 9:36 am

New studies show that children who grow up in homes with gas-powered cooktops are 42% more likely to develop asthma within their lifetimes than children who did not grow up with those appliances. Further studies show that the average American pays >$3200 per year for asthma medications alone (and that doesn't include copays to see doctors or high costs of urgent care/ER during asthma emergencies!). As a parent, I want to do everything I can to keep my children well and healthy, including avoiding an asthma diagnosis. Their lungs are already suffering moreso with the smoke from our now annual wildfires. This means that I want to make changes in my home -- even if they feel like really big ones at the start -- to get my children a healthy, safe future. This also means that I commit to doing everything I can to help control our climate crisis so that my children have a greater chance of living on a planet without increasing extreme heat, flooding, and more frequent, intense storms. When I boil it down, here's how I view it: Yes, I agree that change (especially in our homes) can feel really hard, though in this case, there are big health benefits from doing so. However, not changing will be infinitely harder, especially for our children. My hope for Menlo Park is that we can, regardless of political affiliation, work together to find solutions that minimize transition pain and prioritize public health.


Cheryl Schaff
Registered user
Menlo Park: Downtown
on Aug 13, 2021 at 10:38 am
Cheryl Schaff, Menlo Park: Downtown
Registered user
on Aug 13, 2021 at 10:38 am

Hallelujah! I'm pleased and relieved that the City of Menlo Park, Peninsula Clean Energy and their experienced partners are laser focused on how we can best use our resources to combat climate change: heat domes, mega droughts, rising sea levels, wildfires, poor air quality and the rest of the sad symptoms of humanity abusing our planet—and being LIVED right here in Menlo Park. As a nation, we are way past the point of being able to choose what's most convenient for us, or what we're most comfortable with because we've "always done it that way." Most of our residents, who've heard summaries of the recent Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report, are alarmed at the "Code Red for Humanity" that the panel declared. We're out of time. We need to do everything we can now to reduce emitting greenhouse gasses. Methane is a huge source of GHG emissions from our city and something each of us can reduce. Many of us will need or want a new appliance during the next 8.5 years. It's easy to choose a healthier-for-humanity gas appliance. Incentives will make those choices more affordable—and more incentives are being offered each year. Let's do this!


Nicole
Registered user
Menlo Park: Menlo Oaks
on Aug 13, 2021 at 10:46 am
Nicole, Menlo Park: Menlo Oaks
Registered user
on Aug 13, 2021 at 10:46 am

Objection 1: It's a pipe dream.
Response: If we're defeated before we start, we certainly won't make progress.
Objection 2: Electrical is not as efficient as gas.
Response: Factually incorrect and also irrelevant as CO2 and methane from fossil fuels are literally killing us.
Objection 3: Electricity sucks for heating and cooking.
Response: Patently absurd. The source of power has no impact on the quality of heating or cooking. I use electricity for hot water and cooking. My water is hot. So are my meals.
Objection 4: The electric grid can't handle the load.
Response: You demonstrate a lack of awareness about developments in that arena. Catch up before you object.
Objection 5: This is empty virtue signaling.
Response: No. It is based on solid science.
Objection 6: This policy forces people to do something.
Response: Do the right thing on your own and no one will need to force you. You see how well the laissez-faire policy has served us so far?
In sum, your objections and those of people who think like you brought us to our current pass. We have locked in global warming.


Cheryl Schaff
Registered user
Menlo Park: Downtown
on Aug 13, 2021 at 10:48 am
Cheryl Schaff, Menlo Park: Downtown
Registered user
on Aug 13, 2021 at 10:48 am

Oops! I meant choose a healthier-for-humanity electric appliance.


Diane Schrader
Registered user
Menlo Park: Sharon Heights
on Aug 13, 2021 at 12:08 pm
Diane Schrader, Menlo Park: Sharon Heights
Registered user
on Aug 13, 2021 at 12:08 pm

I want to thank everyone for taking the time to provide feedback. I know that even when the science is clear and the technology is available, the path to these changes takes time and creative resources. I applaud Menlo Park for developing a sustainability plan and taking the steps needed to create a Menlo Park that seven generations out will want to live in. I am so hopeful. The fact that this article is creating dialog is inspiring. I take my cue from Rosie the Riveter: We can do this!


Menlo Voter.
Registered user
Menlo Park: other
on Aug 13, 2021 at 1:25 pm
Menlo Voter., Menlo Park: other
Registered user
on Aug 13, 2021 at 1:25 pm

Nicole:

sure, Menlo Park forcing people into gas is going to make a difference with global warming. It's a drop of water in the ocean. Ever heard of China and India and the quantities of pollutants and CO2 they put in the air? So, yes, this is virtue signaling. They are pretending to "do something" when that something doesn't do or mean anything.


Angela
Registered user
Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Aug 13, 2021 at 2:02 pm
Angela, Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
Registered user
on Aug 13, 2021 at 2:02 pm

It's collective responsibility; everybody has to own their own part so that we can move the ball forward. It's like voting; our individual votes all add up, even if we think our marginal vote doesn't matter. It does matter. In fact, it matters a lot. Menlo Park has a chance to create a meaningful precedent that others can follow. Let's own that.


Rvengosh
Registered user
Menlo Park: Suburban Park/Lorelei Manor/Flood Park Triangle
on Aug 13, 2021 at 3:10 pm
Rvengosh, Menlo Park: Suburban Park/Lorelei Manor/Flood Park Triangle
Registered user
on Aug 13, 2021 at 3:10 pm

We are in a climate emergency. The West is burning, sea ice is disappearing and July was the hottest month recorded in human history worldwide. If we don't eliminate emissions, our kids will not have a habitable planet to live on. Homes are a major source of emissions and we must change that. I am proud to live in a community that understands the challenge and is rising to meet it.

As to the complaints about electric appliances - those clearly don't come from folks that have tried modern ones. We converted almost all our appliances to electric and never looked back (still need to do the furnace). An Induction cooktop is FAR superior to gas. Heats up instantaneously, lets you precisely control the temperature and boils water lightning fast. And it does all this without creating pollution inside my home. Seriously folks, try it before you knock it.

We have to leave a livable planet to the next generation. Stop complaining and help solve the greatest challenge of our life times.


Parent of Los Lomitas and La Entrada grads
Registered user
Menlo Park: Sharon Heights
on Aug 13, 2021 at 4:21 pm
Parent of Los Lomitas and La Entrada grads, Menlo Park: Sharon Heights
Registered user
on Aug 13, 2021 at 4:21 pm

I have an idea
Let everyone in MP make responsible decisions for themselves


Taxed to Oblivion
Registered user
Menlo Park: other
on Aug 13, 2021 at 4:50 pm
Taxed to Oblivion, Menlo Park: other
Registered user
on Aug 13, 2021 at 4:50 pm

Web Link

If you think citizens will be COERCED into filling landfills to join your virtue signaling, you will be looking at the largest class action lawsuit in history.


sjtaffee
Registered user
Menlo Park: The Willows
on Aug 13, 2021 at 5:12 pm
sjtaffee, Menlo Park: The Willows
Registered user
on Aug 13, 2021 at 5:12 pm

I would love to convert my gas oven and gas water heater to electric. My challenge is a maxed-out electrical panel (125 amps). I recently changed out my gas furnace for a heat pump and very happy with that change. I will need to either run more power to my home to change the water heater and oven, or find some clever switching system for my electrical panel to switch certain circuits on/off to not exceed the pane's capacity. Electrician's I've spoken to know little about this new switching technology. One thing the City could help with is help homeowners upgrade their circuits to higher capacity and sponsor projects with the new switching system and training for interested electrical contractors.

- steve taffee, willows


Menlo Voter.
Registered user
Menlo Park: other
on Aug 13, 2021 at 7:34 pm
Menlo Voter., Menlo Park: other
Registered user
on Aug 13, 2021 at 7:34 pm

sjtaffee:

I'm a builder and I haven't heard of a "switching technology" that replaces upsizing a service. Do you have a link to info on it? I'm interested in learning more. Thanks


Tom
Registered user
Menlo Park: The Willows
on Aug 14, 2021 at 1:59 am
Tom, Menlo Park: The Willows
Registered user
on Aug 14, 2021 at 1:59 am

sjtaffee & Menlo Voter,

There's some info on methods of avoiding panel upsizing on pages 19-24 and 68-69 of this free guide. Web Link The solutions fall into 6 sets and you can mix and match them or or skip them all and upsize your panel. I've only done 1,2,3,4 recently.
1) reduce loads by insulating, air sealing, going ductless etc.
2) use more efficient equipment (better COPs or better SEERs or better HSPFs
etc.)
3) use multi functional equipment (Combo washer/dryer instead of separate dryer or combined range instead of separate wall oven, etc.)
4) use less powerful equipment like larger tank water heater with a lower Amp requirement or 10 Amp 240 V charging for 100 miles/night (36,000 miles/year) etc.
5) Use individual circuit sharing devices like NeoCharge, SimpleSwitch etc.
6) Use automated load pausing like Span.io or DCC9 etc.
I think homeowners can save a bunch of money by making an electrification plan out of ideas from the guide.


Enough
Registered user
Menlo Park: other
on Aug 14, 2021 at 11:17 am
Enough, Menlo Park: other
Registered user
on Aug 14, 2021 at 11:17 am

"We are in a climate emergency. The West is burning"

This made me laugh because do you know what started the biggest fires? The Dixie Fire and the fire that burned down Paradise a couple years ago, not to mention hundreds or thousands of other fires? Overloaded electrical transmission equipment. PG&E is responsible for those fires and many others. Just Google "PG&E Fires" and see what comes up. How much pollutants have these fires pumped into our environment? Now PG&E wants to bury 1,000 miles of powerlines, great but who pays for it? PG&E customers! PG&E "hopes" to get the cost per mile down so that it will only cost between $15 and $20 million. I am guessing that the cost analysis above does not take that into account. PG&E has have a horrible record for reliability with brownouts, rolling blackouts, etc. I don't trust them and do not play to rely on their electrical power for things like heating, hot water and cooking. So nothing I have heard here convinces me to move 100% away from gas, in fact just the opposite, if more people move everything to electrical it will just add more strain to an already weak power grid and increase the likelihood of failure.


Tom
Registered user
Menlo Park: The Willows
on Aug 14, 2021 at 3:46 pm
Tom, Menlo Park: The Willows
Registered user
on Aug 14, 2021 at 3:46 pm

@ Enough
My reading of articles about the fires is that they were caused by climate change induced forest conditions and climate change induced big hot winds pushing things on underloaded distribution and transmission wires and freak lightening storms etc. Not caused by overloading of electric system. The Carr fire was caused by a gasoline powered pickup truck pulling over. etc.
I respect that you don't trust the gas and electric company to be safe and reliable while their attention is split on two commodities. I suggest we downsize their duties on handling dangerous gas. I still need then to focus on keeping my electric supply super convenient and reliable so I don't have to dust off my $40 propane camp stove. But I'm always ready to get it out if needed.


Menlo Voter.
Registered user
Menlo Park: other
on Aug 14, 2021 at 6:49 pm
Menlo Voter., Menlo Park: other
Registered user
on Aug 14, 2021 at 6:49 pm

Tom:

Looked through your link. Still can't find info on a circuit sharing technology, although it is mentioned.

The other thing I noted was the suggestion to go to condensing dryers. These are absolutely NOT more efficient. I speak from experience. When our dryer died I replaced it with a condensing dryer. It took FOREVER to dry laundry. After a year of using far more electricity drying laundry than we had been, we dumped the condensing dryer and replaced it with another vented dryer. Dries laundry in 1/3 the time with the added benefit that our electric bill went back down to where it had been.


Enough
Registered user
Menlo Park: other
on Aug 15, 2021 at 10:45 am
Enough, Menlo Park: other
Registered user
on Aug 15, 2021 at 10:45 am

Tom,

You might want to look at some articles about the origin of the fires in Northern California. PG&E has admitted that it likely was the cause of the Dixie fire, they also caused the deadliest wild fire in California, the Camp Fire and many others. Start by reading this story:

Web Link

I will admit that the National Forest service needs to do more about maintaining their land, but PG&E is responsible for keeping their transmission wires clear and safe and they obviously can not do that. I don't agree that they should focus on electricity and abandon gas, and it just isn't going to happen. There are lots of people like me that have absolutely no intention of replacing our working gas heaters/water heaters/cooktops, etc. with less efficient electrical. The grid is not ready for that added burden and I am not ready to have rolling blackouts that leave my family with out heat, hot water or a way to cook. Glad you are happy to dust off your propane stove but doesn't that pretty much defeat the purpose of using electric?


MP Resident
Registered user
Menlo Park: Downtown
on Aug 15, 2021 at 4:48 pm
MP Resident, Menlo Park: Downtown
Registered user
on Aug 15, 2021 at 4:48 pm

"there is no additional cost to convert gas to electric power in most existing homes when one considers current incentives for financing the appliances over time and combines them with solar power."

What's the plan for those who can't combine with solar power? What if you are in a multi-family dwelling? or your roof doesn't need replacing? or you live under trees?

Truth is, forcing conversion is going to cost a lot of money, and that money will need to come from residents' pockets. And PG&E is not anywhere close too prepared.

Any thoughts on nuclear? It's proven, and produces reliable, inexpensive electricity (assuming a new plant could get built).


Enough
Registered user
Menlo Park: other
on Aug 15, 2021 at 6:36 pm
Enough, Menlo Park: other
Registered user
on Aug 15, 2021 at 6:36 pm

MP Resident,

I really don't think the problem is in the generating of electricity, it is in the transmission. These huge fires are caused by the transmission wires and transformers failing (either because they are old, defective or trees get blown into them) and PG&E certainly does not currently have the infrastructure to deal with it. It took PG&E 8 hours and 30 minutes to get a person up to where the Dixie fire started after they knew there was a problem. How does it take 8 and a half hours to get someone up there? If it was that remote they should have used a helicopter, instead we have one of the biggest fires in California doing Billions in damage and putting untold tons of pollutants into the atmosphere. Now people want to put higher demands on a system that can't handle the current demands. Not thought through very well in my opinion.


Menlo Voter.
Registered user
Menlo Park: other
on Aug 15, 2021 at 7:06 pm
Menlo Voter., Menlo Park: other
Registered user
on Aug 15, 2021 at 7:06 pm

Another thing that hasn't been thought out is that they are forcing everyone into solar power. Except, this city loves its trees. Trees are an obvious problem when it comes to solar. Are we going to force people to cut down trees that shade roofs where solar panel goes? No, then you will be forcing people to use power that is significantly more expensive than gas. A tax of a sort. And I think everyone would agree that is not fair to those homeowners.

So, here we are again, government pushing an agenda that isn't well thought out because they desperately want to be seen as "doing something". Virtue signaling.


Tom
Registered user
Menlo Park: The Willows
on Aug 15, 2021 at 8:42 pm
Tom, Menlo Park: The Willows
Registered user
on Aug 15, 2021 at 8:42 pm

My memories of fire science is that it takes 3 things to make fire: combustable fuel like climate damaged trees, oxygen like from normal or freak wind storms, and a source of ignition like a cigarette or lightening or trees blown into normally loaded electric lines. But electrification does not cause fires. In fact converting to electric devices rather than combustion devices will probably decrease fire risks of kitchen fires, dryer fires, catalytic converter fires etc. Hopefully getting on top of the climate problem will decrease the climate damage to trees and decrease the freaky weather that causes or oxygenates the fires. I can see how electrification may in net terms reduce all three of the things needed to cause fires. And I expect the exceptions to be highly publicized compared to the old common boring fossil fired causes.


Menlo Voter.
Registered user
Menlo Park: other
on Aug 16, 2021 at 7:40 am
Menlo Voter., Menlo Park: other
Registered user
on Aug 16, 2021 at 7:40 am

Tom:

That's a stretch. A big one.


Observer
Registered user
Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Aug 16, 2021 at 11:18 am
Observer, Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
Registered user
on Aug 16, 2021 at 11:18 am

"there is no additional cost to convert gas to electric power in most existing homes when one considers current incentives for financing the appliances over time and combines them with solar power."
Makes no sense, of course there is a cost - the cost of financing, especially if you don't have an "excellent" credit rating.
MP Res - nuclear- really?
Do you have any idea of the cost of building a new nuclear plant? And who do you think is going to pay for it? Us rate payers and residents. And it will do nothing to alleviate dangers of fires from electricity and transmission lines - because you need a way to transmit the electricity produced by the nuke plant. The only folks who want them are the unions and the plant developers.


Atherton Resident
Registered user
Atherton: other
on Aug 16, 2021 at 12:35 pm
Atherton Resident, Atherton: other
Registered user
on Aug 16, 2021 at 12:35 pm

Saw this headline on NewsBreak from ABC7 News Bay Area

PG&E warns of potential power shutoffs for parts of Bay Area this week due to dry, windy conditions.


Can Menlo Park Spark explain how electricity will be delivered more reliably than gas? There seems to be a lot of notices of power shutoffs with the least amount of bad weather. What is the back up plan to provide dependable energy?

Web Link


Enough
Registered user
Menlo Park: other
on Aug 16, 2021 at 1:40 pm
Enough, Menlo Park: other
Registered user
on Aug 16, 2021 at 1:40 pm

Tom,

You are correct, the three ingredients needed for fire are Fuel, Oxygen and Heat (fire source) and PG&E has definitely provided the fire source (heat) hundreds or thousands of times in the past few years. PG&E is also responsible for removing the fuel by keeping trees and other combustibles away from their electrical lines. They have certainly failed to do that over the years. While there have been incidents from their gas systems (San Bruno in 2011) they are much less frequent and cause much less damage and deaths as fires cause by PG&Es electrical system. PG&E's electrical system has also been responsible for the millions of tons of pollutants put into our atmosphere by those fires. Finally once you factor in the burden of putting a fraction of their transmission lines underground ($15-20 Billion) which PG&E wants to pass along to the customers, it is hard to argue that electricity is cheaper or safer or more environmentally friendly than natural gas.


ln
Registered user
Menlo Park: Sharon Heights
on Aug 16, 2021 at 7:54 pm
ln, Menlo Park: Sharon Heights
Registered user
on Aug 16, 2021 at 7:54 pm

@Nicole
Re: #6 "Do the right thing on your own and no one will need to force you."
So, I guess you get to decide what the "right thing" is? And, Nicole, who is going to "force" people to do your "right thing?" You? The police? Maybe you can get the Gestapo back to get us nonbelievers all in line to do your right thing. Seems like these sorts of things have been tried throughout history, with some not very great results. Seriously, think about what you are saying here. Or is there no more free choice left in America (unless it is what you choose for us all)?


Cheryl Schaff
Registered user
Menlo Park: Downtown
on Aug 18, 2021 at 12:56 am
Cheryl Schaff, Menlo Park: Downtown
Registered user
on Aug 18, 2021 at 12:56 am

To Menlo Park Voter,
We installed solar panels on our roof in West Menlo Park about two years ago, did not have to remove a single tree and the panels are delivering generous amounts of power. Please don't be worried about the need to cut down trees to install solar panels. We can have both beautiful, CO2-absorbing trees and clean-electricity-generating solar panels.


Menlo Voter.
Registered user
Menlo Park: other
on Aug 18, 2021 at 3:13 pm
Menlo Voter., Menlo Park: other
Registered user
on Aug 18, 2021 at 3:13 pm

Cheryl:

not all homes in MP are the same in terms of tree location and coverage. Nor are the roof directions in relation to trees necessarily advantageous to solar. Yours is but a single example that did work without cutting trees.


Stu Soffer
Registered user
Menlo Park: Linfield Oaks
on Aug 19, 2021 at 2:53 pm
Stu Soffer, Menlo Park: Linfield Oaks
Registered user
on Aug 19, 2021 at 2:53 pm

No advantage unless other cities on the peninsula enact the exact same laws. Meaning this should be at the state level.

Come back when Palo Alto and Atherton enact the same. Until when you're pissing in the wind.


Menlo Voter.
Registered user
Menlo Park: other
on Aug 19, 2021 at 6:52 pm
Menlo Voter., Menlo Park: other
Registered user
on Aug 19, 2021 at 6:52 pm

"Come back when Palo Alto and Atherton enact the same. Until when you're pissing in the wind."

Bingo! Except you didn't go far enough. It's pissing in the wind if the nations of the world with the largest populations and the largest C02 emissions get on board.


Enough
Registered user
Menlo Park: other
on Aug 20, 2021 at 8:13 pm
Enough, Menlo Park: other
Registered user
on Aug 20, 2021 at 8:13 pm

Maybe that is the answer, let's approve wind turbines around the city. If there is wind to piss in then let it power our houses...It has to be better than PG&E


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