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Guest opinion: If higher-income homeowners lead the way, costs for all-electric homes will come down

Original post made on Aug 6, 2023

In a guest opinion, retired mechanical engineer Rob Hogue makes the case for higher-income homeowners to be early adopters of all-electric home conversions.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Sunday, August 6, 2023, 8:25 AM

Comments (15)

Posted by CyberVoter
a resident of Atherton: other
on Aug 6, 2023 at 4:00 pm

CyberVoter is a registered user.

This will not make PGE rates & bills less for anyone. The extra bureaucracy to administer PGE's access to your Income Tax returns will add more overhead costs to your bill. Do you really trust PGE with all your data??

Instead PGE should be focused on efficiency & safety. When the "Chief Customer Officer" (i.e., Marketing!) makes ~ $5M there is something wrong! Fix PGE before giving the more power.

Posted by Menlo Voter.
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Aug 6, 2023 at 6:09 pm

Menlo Voter. is a registered user.

All electric homes are a joke. The grid can't handle the load it is currently carrying, so sure let's go ahead and load it up with some more. Oh, and in Atherton where very large homes with very high electrical demands need three phase power. Three phase is commercial power. In case anyone missed it, Atherton doesn't have any commercial properties in it, save the Circus Club. Three phase is not readily available and depending on how far the system has to be upgraded to get to a particular residence the costs can be $250,000 and up. This is one of the reasons Atherton backed off on requiring pool heaters to be electric along with all other things in a residence. An inadequate power grid. Until PG&E upgrades their grid and makes it as reliable as natural gas, the all electric homes idea is not ready for prime time.

Posted by pogo
a resident of Woodside: other
on Aug 7, 2023 at 8:33 am

pogo is a registered user.

This isn't really engineering, it's economics. When more people buy a product and producers make more of it, the price usually goes down.

The most obvious exceptions to that rule occurs when government inserts itself into the marketplace and usually the opposite (price increases) results. Good examples are healthcare and here in California, government accounts for 70% of health spending, and higher education where tuition, books and student housing costs have far exceeded inflation in all other sectors.

And Menlo Voter is correct. The grid is just about maxed out already. Adding lots of new electrical demand - especially with amperage heavy appliances and insufficient supply to augment the new higher demand - will stress our systems and result in increased energy prices... which hurts the poorest among us. But those poor folks will certainly appreciate the fact that the new electrical furnace they need to replace their gas heater will cost them $500 less.

Posted by Ole Agesen
a resident of Menlo Park: Allied Arts/Stanford Park
on Aug 7, 2023 at 2:02 pm

Ole Agesen is a registered user.

Menlo Voter states: "the grid can't handle the load it is currently carrying, so sure let's go ahead and load it up with some more."

The idea that the grid is maxed out (i.e., we cannot add anymore electrical load) is a misrepresentation.

Let's look at history. The 1950s grid was sized to handle the 1950s load. It could not have supported the higher load of the 2000s (more people, more A/C, more refrigerators, more computers, etc.)

The grid wasn't static: it grew to meet new demands.

Just the same, the 2020s grid is sized to handle today's loads (though perhaps a bit more safety margin would be nice). It has not been sized to handle the 2050s load when most homes and most cars may be fully electric.

The grid isn't static.

So we can (and should) electrify; and the grid must be built out to handle these future loads as they materialize.

Upgrading the grid to handle new load also affords us a chance to modernize the grid, make it more reliable and less prone to starting wildfires.

So go ahead and electrify your home. Enjoy the cleaner air and the lower utility bills. And be happy that it will increasingly benefit the environment and lessen your climate impact as the California grid decarbonizes in the coming years.

Welcome to the future!

Ole, in a 100% electrical home, 0% regrets.

Posted by Local Voter
a resident of another community
on Aug 7, 2023 at 2:29 pm

Local Voter is a registered user.

The barrier to going all electric is not necessarily the upfront cost of the equipment, but the ongoing total cost of energy.
My current PGE bill averages $0.38 per kwh. My daughter in Sacramento pays $0.12 kwh to SMUD. If she converted to all electric, her total energy bill would be almost the same as before. If I converted to all electric, my total energy bill would be at least twice as much as I am paying now, and perhaps much more.
Substituting low cost gas for very high priced electricity, even with very efficient new electric appliances, will cost the average consumer much much more in monthly energy costs.
This point seems to be lost on those advocating all electric conversion in PG&E service area.
Finally, mandating all electric (in PG&E service area) will be a recipe for extreme hardship for lower income residents.
The author seems to be missing this key point.

Posted by Steve
a resident of Woodside: Emerald Hills
on Aug 7, 2023 at 2:37 pm

Steve is a registered user.

I have to say this is putting the cart before the horse.nAs mentioned in a prior comment our PGE grid is so unstable at least now when the power goes out you have a gas stove or hot water heater that enables you to have some creature comforts. The only way this current conversion can work is to have PGE provide all customers with large battery backups since they cannot keep the lights on without this increased that will be caused by all electric homes. Carbon emissions are a serious issue but until we have an electric grid that doesn't go down for days or weeks for some customers when it gets hot or rains we cannot just "go all electric". I purchased a battery wall because PGE is unreliable after I was without power for 4 days!

Posted by been there
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Aug 7, 2023 at 2:47 pm

been there is a registered user.

Rob Houge,
Your Guest opinion states, "Due to three-to four times higher energy efficiency with heat pumps." I find this hard to believe.
Please quote your sources, not quoting someone else's opinion but proof that your claim is scientific. Not pseudoscience.
I will wait for your reply.

Posted by been there
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Aug 7, 2023 at 2:51 pm

been there is a registered user.

Science is defined as testing a theory and proving a likely outcome.
Religion is a belief in something that can't be proved. One just believes.

Posted by Menlo Voter.
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Aug 7, 2023 at 3:44 pm

Menlo Voter. is a registered user.


how about we wait until they build out the grid to meet the new demand and THEN add the demand? If we don't we will continue to have what we have now, an undersized and unreliable grid.

Posted by Ole Agesen
a resident of Menlo Park: Allied Arts/Stanford Park
on Aug 7, 2023 at 9:32 pm

Ole Agesen is a registered user.

> how about we wait until they build out the grid to meet the new demand and THEN add the demand?

I can think of many reasons not to wait nor to delay anymore:

1. We've done a lot of delaying already. NASA's James Hansen testified to Congress on warming, climate change and greenhouse gasses in 1988. Transcript: Web Link

This was 35 years ago and we have taken the "how about we wait" approach for most of those 35 years. We squandered an opportunity to act in a timely manner and failed to get on top of the problem at a time when it would have been much easier than today.

Now our backs are against the wall, the problem is bigger and more visible than ever (heat wave in Phoenix, ocean record temperatures, coral bleaching, lowest ever measured ice coverage in Antarctica, forest fires in Canada). Being so short on remaining time to just limit further damage, now is not the time to wait.

2. Grid planners respond to stimuli. If we increase demand, the grid gains capacity quicker and funds become available to modernize it faster. That was my historical argument and I see no reason to doubt this applies looking forward.

Demand growth in the past: A/C, computers, population increase, more gadgets, bigger homes, etc.

Historical fact: the grid responded and handled it.

Demand grown in the future: electrification of industry, buildings and transport.

Extrapolation from history: the grid will respond and handle the increased load.

3. The article we are commenting on proposes pushing electric appliances forward on the price/performance learning curve by having home owners who can afford it seed demand for these appliances. When volumes increase prices decrease (Swanson's law). What's wrong with that? By my book, nothing. It's how we got solar and wind power at costs below those of fossil fueled power.

How about we don't wait? Stop delaying? How about we act?

Sincerely, and thanks.

Posted by pogo
a resident of Woodside: other
on Aug 8, 2023 at 11:54 am

pogo is a registered user.

For those of us who have lived or have homes in other states, we know what a reliable electric grid looks like. In California, our power seems to fail a dozen times a year - on hot days, on cold days, on windy days, on still days, and sometimes for no reason at all (those so-called rolling blackouts).

In my time on the planet and living in 15+ different homes all over the country, I've never experienced this kind of instability in an electric supply. I can hardly wait until everything is electric!

Posted by pogo
a resident of Woodside: other
on Aug 8, 2023 at 12:00 pm

pogo is a registered user.

Funniest part of all - PGE JUST (this very second) informed me by text of a power outage right now! My phone says its 70 degrees - perfect blue skies and zero wind.

Well done.

Posted by Rcm
a resident of Woodside: other
on Aug 8, 2023 at 4:15 pm

Rcm is a registered user.

It is not as simple as pulling out the gas and sliding in the electric .my house is over 35years old and would need all new wiring and service @$6000 just to plug in the new electric appliances

Posted by Ole Agesen
a resident of Menlo Park: Allied Arts/Stanford Park
on Aug 8, 2023 at 9:08 pm

Ole Agesen is a registered user.

Hi Rcm:

We electrified 100 year old house. At 35 years, your house is brand new and should not have shoddy wiring, no aluminum wires, though perhaps a 100A panel where a modern house may have 200A. (Do you have a 100A panel?)

Even then, as Tom Kabat teaches us (google: "watt diet") most houses can be fully electrified on 100A panels.

If a contractor told you that you need to pull out all existing wiring, perhaps you should get second opinion?

That being said, there are rebates and tax credits available, especially this year, if you want to invest in electrical upgrades. With EVs and electrical appliances in our future, it seems to me that such projects should be considered investments towards the future, not expenses in the present without future payoff.

Your house may have higher resale value if it has been converted to electrical, with solar and perhaps even a battery...

Best regards, and thanks for considering this perspective.

Posted by Menlo Voter.
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Aug 9, 2023 at 8:19 am

Menlo Voter. is a registered user.


That's $6000 if you don't have to upgrade the incoming PG&E lines. If they are not of sufficient size for the increased load, PG&E requires larger conductors. You can easily add another $5000 on top of that if that is necessary. No, the all electric proponents haven't thought this thing through. It has serious financial consequences and for those of limited means it is a very real hardship, if not impossible. But, they're "saving the world". They think.

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