January 17th, 2023 City Council Agenda Item 7-B: Equitable Building Decarbonization Plan.
The Equitable Building Decarbonization (EBD) is a plan to replace all gas appliances in ALL Alameda buildings by 2030, just 7 years from now. Our reading of the EBD plan is that the requirements to upgrade Alameda properties will not be accomplished on a voluntary basis. The estimate to upgrade a single family home is approximately $45,000. With City/AMP planned rebates of approximately $15,000, the average upgrade for that single family home could be around $30,000 for the property owner. Alameda’s older apartment buildings would cost more.
The City of Alameda has laid out a process for the replacement of gas appliances and has created a rebate schedule that is predicated on the ability of the City to obtain state and federal grant money to offer rebates to property owners for the necessary work required to upgrade Alameda’s buildings to 100% electric. At present there is no guarantee that Alameda will be able to obtain the grants necessary to offer rebates to every property owner in Alameda.
There are also questions about Alameda Municipal Power’s ability to provide the electricity required for a 100% electric Alameda.
At present all new construction in Alameda is required to be 100% electric. But the process of upgrading all existing buildings in Alameda will be a much more difficult process. Many, if not most of the buildings will require upgrades to their electric service panels to bring them up to providing 200 amp service to each unit. In buildings where tenants pay their own electric bills, this will require upgrading “each” electric panel. Most buildings will require opening walls to install electric wiring where none presently exists. This will be disruptive to tenants and may require relocation during construction.
The name of the plan is “Equitable Building Decarbonization”. The plan assumes the electric bills to be paid by tenants or low income property owners after the upgrades will be less than what they pay now for electric and gas combined. At present electricity is much more expensive than gas to heat water or to heat a living unit during winter times. The plan assumes that over time gas prices will continue to rise above what will be required with the new “energy efficient” appliances. Heat exchange units for hot water and building heat may or may not be less expensive over time. A lot depends on the building configuration. Heat exchange systems do provide cooling for summer seasons.
The rebates planned to be offered to Alameda property owners will not cover the cost of the necessary upgrades, especially in buildings where the service panels have to be upgraded. In buildings where major appliances, furnace, hot water heater, clothes dryer, and cooking stove are gas, this upgrade will be a very expensive process. Upgrading these appliances as they reach end of life means replacing them one at a time. This is totally unpractical as the electric panel and house wiring upgrades will have to be in place at the time each appliance reaches it’s end of life cycle. Replacing all appliances at one time will be very expensive and beyond the financial abilities of most mom and pop landlords.
One part of the EBD plan would be any building would have to be upgraded to 100% electric before it could be sold.
As Alameda has a rent control plan where limited construction costs can be recovered in higher rents, the financial burden for landlords will be excessive and in many cases impossible to achieve even with the rebate plan.
All electric households will be healthier to live in. A recent study reports that children who live in homes with gas appliances have higher incidents of Asthma, so that will be big plus for the EBD plan.
“New Study Finds Gas Stoves a Key Cause of US Childhood Asthma”
The City Council agenda is found at the following link:| https://alameda.legistar.com/View.ashx?M=A&ID=1066764&GUID=4E85C669-80B2-4FC3-9DC7-5447A7CBA8CE
The Planning Board recommendation attached to the agenda item can be read at the following link: https://alameda.legistar.com/View.ashx?M=F&ID=11552885&GUID=EF9D805E-1108-4E8F-8AA8-47E930D8731D
The City Council presentation slideshow can be seen at the following link. The slideshow includes the proposed rebates.https://alameda.legistar.com/View.ashx?M=F&ID=11552890&GUID=7D553F43-8263-47C4-BB9C-F1DC6964F5B6
At the January 17th meeting the City Council will be voting to accept the Equitable Building Decarbonization Plan ordinance. If you have concerns regarding this plan, please contact your City officials at the following email addresses before Tuesday January 17th afternoon.
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