Berkeley restaurants

Orinda rejects electrification ordinance, for now

Posted on October 12, 2022
Orinda rejects electrification ordinance, for now

The Orinda City Council considered, but rejected, an ordinance that would have required all new residential and commercial construction in the city to be all-electric. Overall, the council felt the ordinance was not yet necessary for the city, which is expected to soon fall under a statewide provision, and could have a negative effect on ongoing construction projects.

The purpose of electrification ordinances is to reduce greenhouse gases and climate change. Contra Costa County already has an electrification ordinance, but it does not apply to the city. The cities of Lafayette and Moraga are currently considering passing electrification ordinances, but have not yet done so.

Orinda Director of Planning Drummond Buckley said the state of California is expected to pass an electrification ordinance three years after the next building code, which comes into effect in January 2023.

Buckley also clarified what would not be affected by an electrification order in Orinda. The proposed order would only apply to new residential and commercial construction, but would not apply to renovations. Also, for electrification purposes, restaurants and swimming pools are not considered retail businesses.

Damian Hardman-Saldana of Contra Costa County was also present at the Sept. 27 meeting to answer questions from council. He explained that the county views electrification as cost-effective, adding that all low-income developments are already fully electric because it is more cost-effective to build. When Vice Mayor Inga Miller asked why the county didn’t include restaurants, Hardman-Saldana explained that the state of California doesn’t yet have a business case for restaurants and the city of Berkeley is sued by restaurants for their electrification ordinance. .

Several community members submitted written comments opposing the passage of the ordinance. Nick Waranoff urged the city not to put all of its energy “eggs” in one “basket”. He referred to power cuts for public safety, suggesting that the power grid does not yet have enough capacity to support electrification, and could be hampered in the future as hydropower generation could be affected by drought conditions in the state. He also noted that the national power grid is susceptible to terrorist attacks and hackers. Melanie Light also suggested that the proposed order could have unintended consequences. She, like Waranoff, pointed out that during blackouts, it’s handy to have gas for cooking and heating homes, if needed. The California Restaurant Association also opposed the proposed order.

During the council discussion, council member Nick Kosla pointed out that there is currently a delay of several months for the electrical installation of new houses. “It needs to marinate a little longer,” he said. “Climate change is a global issue. California has done a great job, with a massive population, we can make a difference,” he added. Council member Amy Worth agreed that targets for reducing greenhouse gas emissions are important and the city is doing it where it can. Council member Darlene Gee also agreed it was clear the state was headed in that direction, but added: “We don’t have much going on right now that’s going to benefit from our action. right now. At this point,” she said, “I’m not interested in changing the ordinances just for the city of Orinda.” Miller asked staff to keep an eye on developments in electrification.