Some labor and business leaders — as well as residents of different communities around the state – are pushing back against green energy policies that Sacramento has taken on to fight climate change.
About a month ago, business and political representatives from more than 20 cities across the Inland Empire – a metropolitan area east of Los Angeles that covers parts of Riverside and San Bernardino counties – held a press conference in the city of Riverside.
At the meeting, they sounded off against new California Energy Commission and California Public Utilities Commission (PUQ rules designed to move energy users away from natural gas, toward electric power “Affordability is a key factor for the Inland Empire. More than 120 people move to the Inland Empire a day — and for a good reason,”‘ said Paid Gramllo, CEO of the Inland Empire Economic Partnership ‘‘California is known for its high housing market, but oui” Inland Empire residents enjoy the area’s inexpensive costs of living, in comparison to neighboring cities. If natural gas is eliminated as an affordable fuel option, our home- owners and businesses would be in jeopards1.”
About 90 percent of California residents still use natural gas as the main energy source in then homes.
Last Tuesday in Sacramento, the California Business Roundtable also held a press conference, bringing together labor leaders, businesspeople and citizens to call on Gov. Newsom to consider sources of energy other than electricity.
“California regulators should not be in the business of picking and choosing energy winners,” said Rob Lapsley, president of the California Business Roundtable. “We need diversity in energy supplies. Manufacturing and bio-tech will not survive without natural gas. Nor will many other Utilities Commission (PUC) is in the process of implementing SB 1477 authored by Sen. Henry Stem (D- Malibu). The legislation instructs the PUC to provide incentives to developers to reduce their use of natural gas-dependent technologies in new construction.
One effort is called the Building Initiative for Low Emissions Development (BUILD) program. The initiative offers up to $20 million per year for four years if developers meet green energy requirements. Another program, Technology and Equipment for Clean Heating (TECH), offers developers $30 million a year for up to four years for using low- emissions heating sources or technologies.
In terms of policy, California remains ahead of most of the country on greening its economy and laws. Berkeley for. example, has already banned natural gas in new low-rise buildings. And about 60 more cities and towns across the state are considering measures to ban natural gas or programs that would give developers incentives to install electric appliances only.
But many Inland Empire residents warn that these policies would put more of a financial burden on businesses, homeowners and renters if new regulations require them to retrofit existing buildings to accommodate electric power only.
Between 2011 and 2016. the number of businesses in the Inland Empire also grew by 11%, outpacing the state rate at about 8%, according to the University of California – Riverside.
However, the economic boom in the EE doesn’t tell the full story when it comes to affording a switch to cleaner energy.
“I was stunned to learn that the California Public Utilities Commission has decided that to meet emissions reduction goals they want to switch all homes and businesses in California to electricity only and eliminate natural gas as an energy source. Knowing costs are a concern.” said Andy Melendrez. Riverside Mayor Pro Tern.