California has been at the forefront of the building electrification movement. The 2022 Building Energy Code, which goes into effect January 1, 2023, is one of the strictest codes in the nation, highly incentivizing builders to design and build new buildings without natural gas hookups and appliances. With the majority of new buildings likely to be all-electric, the focus of policy makers is shifting towards electrifying existing construction, which accounts for a sizeable chunk of the State’s greenhouse gas emission inventory.
The California Air Resources Board released its 2022 Scoping plan (Draft 2022 Scoping Plan Update (ca.gov)) in May, calling for all natural gas and propane fueled water heating equipment to be banned for sale in the State no later than 2030. The plan will be implemented by the state’s 35 individual air districts. The largest two, Bay Area Air Quality Management District (Building Appliances (baaqmd.gov)) and South Coast Air Quality Management District (South Coast AQMD Air Quality Management Plan) have each released plans this year to begin implementing the ban in 2027 and 2029 respectively.
Apart from these actions, local governments have the ability to adopt an Energy Reach Code (a code exceeding state requirements for efficiency and emissions), requiring equipment change-outs to only install electric water heating and HVAC equipment. Sacramento County has proposed doing just that. In their September 2022 Climate Action Plan (Final Climate Action Plan.pdf (saccounty.net)), … see page 25…the County proposed adopting an ordinance beginning as early as January 1, 2023, which requires ALL residential water heating and HVAC systems be replaced with an electric equivalent product at the end of their useful life. If approved, Sacramento County would be the first in the country to adopt this type of an ordinance.
While the state and Sacramento County Municipal Utility District have millions of dollars set aside for incentives, the push to convert natural gas and propane appliances to electric, in particular electric heat pump technology, may be costly and difficult for many homeowners and contractors to achieve. According to the 2022 TECH Clean CA program, (TECH Public Reporting Maps and Graphs (techcleanca.com)) the average cost to install a heat pump water heater in Sacramento County was $5,733.
Sacramento County may be the first to propose an electrification ordinance for existing buildings, but certainly will not be the last. If the 2019 Energy Code cycle was a glance into the future, we can expect many jurisdictions in California, and perhaps elsewhere to follow suit. Stay tuned!
Mike Corbett – Government and Regulatory Affairs
Working Towards Progress in California
Mike Corbett was hired in December of 2020 as the State Government Affairs & Product Specialist for California. Prior to working at Bradford White Corporation (BWC), Mike spent over 10 years working in the energy and utility space, managing energy and codes and standards programs. California’s regulatory structure is very fragmented, consisting of multiple state agencies, regional air resource districts, county government and local government. Mike represents the interests of BWC in discussion with regulatory bodies across the state and works in collaboration with industry trade partners to bring perspective on policies affecting the manufacturing, distribution, sale and installation of water and space heating products that would otherwise go unheard.