Did you know lawmakers in Sacramento are currently considering legislation that would take away Californians’ right to make choices about the energy they use in their homes and businesses?  Assembly Bill 3232 would drive up energy costs for families and business owners by forcing them to swap out natural gas appliances for electric ones.

For apartment owners with multi-unit buildings, this would mean a large increase in costs for new appliances, such as water heaters, furnaces, and stoves, and potential upgrades to wiring and electrical panels to handle the increased electric load.  The costs associated with these unnecessary changes could be in the thousands of dollars per housing unit.

Our customers repeatedly tell us they are concerned about energy affordability, which is why they prefer natural gas over electricity by a margin of 4 to 1.  We know many of you chose to install natural gas appliances in your buildings because they are the most cost-effective option and are energy efficient.  In fact, more than 90 percent of Southern California families have natural gas appliances in their home.  We at SoCalGas cannot support any legislation that takes away our customers’ right to choose the most affordable energy source to meet their daily needs.

AB 3232 makes the claim that electrification of buildings is necessary to achieve California’s greenhouse gas emissions reduction goals, but this is simply not the case.  Natural gas end uses in residential and commercial buildings in California account for only about 7 percent of greenhouse gas emissions in the state—compare this to the transportation sector, which accounts for about 40 percent of the state’s greenhouse gas emissions.

SoCalGas has long been a leader in developing appliances and programs that deliver meaningful emissions reductions. Since 1990, our energy efficiency programs have reduced emissions equal to taking 700,000 cars off the road.  These advances have enabled us to achieve the greenhouse gas reductions required under existing climate regulations years ahead of schedule.

We believe energy providers and policy makers should focus on policies that reduce emissions and keep costs as low as possible for hard working families and businesses.  For example, a more affordable option to reduce greenhouse gas emissions is to capture methane from farms, wastewater treatment plants and landfills and deliver it to customers through existing infrastructure.  A recently released analysis found that we could achieve the same greenhouse gas reductions at a much lower cost by replacing just a fraction of the natural gas we deliver through our pipelines with this renewable fuel. That’s why SoCalGas supports legislation introduced by Senator Ben Hueso (D-San Diego) that would speed-up the delivery of renewable natural gas to our customers.

Thanks to a recent poll funded by the California Building Industry Association, we know the majority of California voters believe natural gas should continue to be a future energy choice to keep utility bills affordable.  It is time for lawmakers in Sacramento to hear from the millions of Californians who care about the environment but who are opposed to the most expensive solution to combating climate change.

George Minter

Regional Vice President

for External Affairs and Environmental Strategy for SoCalGas