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Council Paves Way for All-Electric Future

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By Jorge Casuso

September 30, 2022 -- Santa Monica took major strides toward an all-electric future Tuesday when the City Council approved policies that ban gas energy in all new construction and require developers to add EV chargers in multi-family buildings.

The new policies -- which will go into effect on January 1 -- will "drastically" reduce the carbon footprint of new construction projects and prepare for a boom in zero emission vehicles, City officials said.

“This is a critical step to help decarbonize the building and transportation sectors in Santa Monica,” said Shannon Parry, the City's Chief Sustainability Officer.

“Ensuring that all new buildings are not burning natural gas and provide EV charging infrastructure are cost-effective strategies to improve environmental and public health while also helping prevent the need for future costly retrofits.”

Most Santa Monica buildings already receive 100 percent clean power through the Clean Power Alliance, eliminating the need to burn natural gas for space and water heating, city officials said.

All-electric buildings reduce "harmful" indoor air pollution, avoid the risk of gas leaks or explosions and cut down development costs by eliminating the need to install gas piping, officials said.

The substitution of traditional gas furnaces, water heaters, cooking ranges and dryers with electric alternatives such as heat pump hot water heaters and induction cooktops will decrease the carbon footprint.

Santa Monica joins nearly four dozen California cities that require all-electric buildings. Last month, the California Public Utilities Commission voted to end natural gas line subsidies for new natural gas hookups.

Legislation similar to that approved in Santa Monica Tuesday has passed in New York City, Seattle, Quebec, and entire countries, including Germany, France, the UK, Denmark, Austria, Ireland and the Netherlands.

Some energy experts warn that these countries could face an energy crisis this winter and that banning fossil fuel use in buildings will boost energy costs, impacting lower-income households.

The Council on Tuesday also voted to require that 60 percent of the parking spaces in all new multi-family buildings be "EV Ready" by installing the necessary conduit and outlets.

In addition, 5 percent must have chargers installed during construction and 10 percent must have the electrical capacity to serve future charging stations under the new EV Charger Require Code.

"Requiring EV charging infrastructure during the construction process is estimated to be three to fives times less expensive than retrofitting a parking spot in an existing building to add a charger," City officials said.

They note that California aims to have 5 million zero emission vehicles on the road by 2030 and recently approved a state law that requires all new cars sold to be zero emission vehicles beginning in 2035.

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