BRAWLEY– The Brawley City Council was presented with information from SoCalGas on Tuesday regarding the California movement of electrification as a warning of what could be coming.

Deborah McGarrey, public affairs manager for SoCalGas, gave the presentation on Tuesday. SoCalGas has been visiting cities in the Imperial Valley to warn city councils of the bill that is under review in Sacramento.

The move is to go from being gas-dependent to electricity-dependent, requiring all buildings to run on electric power by 2030. This means that all gas appliances would be removed from old buildings, and new buildings would be built with electric power in mind. It is meant to help cut down on California’s greenhouse gas emissions.

In 2014, legislation was proposed that would require all buildings to replace natural gas with electric, but it did not pass. However, McGarrey warned that similar legislation in the future is likely.

An average house would cost an estimated $7,200 to retrofit to electricity only. This would also drive up annual electric costs and energy usage. McGarrey added that if battery back-up was used for everything natural gas does, it would cost the state $3 trillion.

“The rationale behind this is that solar and wind energy is good, why not use it for everything? But it’s simple to say that it is not factual that you can do all of that and use the same amount of energy,” said McGarrey. “We’re using a lot more energy.”

A survey from SoCalGas shows that 80% of Californians want a choice of whether they will switch or not. According to McGarrey, the hotel industry has already stated that being forced to switch to electric-only will drive their cooks crazy. 

“Also, you can’t get that char on the tortilla without a gas stove,” added council member George Nava.

SoCalGas is already looking into other options for natural gas, such as biogas or renewable methane gas. Renewable gas comes from decomposing food and could possibly be used in homes. It has a negative carbon intensity value, meaning it actually takes carbon out of the air and has a zero-emission value.

“It shows that if you were able to take 16% of the natural gas we have in our pipelines right now and use renewable natural gas, it would have the same effect: to electrify all of our buildings in California,” said McGarrey.

Mayor Donnie Warton also voiced concern for jobs tied up in gas that would likely be affected if electrification was pushed.

McGarrey said that SoCalGas is not anti-electrification, but wants options other than just electrification. She asked that the Brawley City Council pay attention to what the state is planning, and to think about what the citizens need and want.

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