California homes and businesses must transition to clean, renewable sources of energy for heating our buildings and water in order to meet the state’s climate goals. A diverse group of 27 organizations―local governments, utilities, environmental organizations, and others―this week asked the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) to improve access to funds for switching to clean energy for heating.
Moving to renewable heating sources (like electricity from sun and wind power, or biogas from sustainable sources) for water heating and space heating is of growing importance in a state like California, where our increasingly clean electric grid means that other energy-related sources of climate pollution (like fossil gas burned to heat buildings and water) become key targets for emissions reductions. In California, direct emissions from residential and commercial buildings are approximately equal to the pollution from all in-state power plants, and most are from fossil gas burned in buildings. Notably, these emissions from buildings do not include all “fugitive” emissions, where gas is unintentionally released during the production, storage, transmission, distribution, and onsite use of gas.
The motion filed at the CPUC this week asks that the commission revise a policy that currently restricts the use of energy efficiency incentives for projects that involve switching between types of energy; for example a rebate to help pay for moving from a standard gas water heater to a super-efficient electric water heater. Changes to this policy could increase funding for efficient technologies that also drastically reduce climate pollution by switching to cleaner sources of energy.
This chart shows the emissions from a super-efficient, electric heat pump hot water heater (the green line) compared to other water-heating technologies as the grid gets cleaner (i.e. as the percent of renewables on the electric grid increases along the x-axis).
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