Special to the Vanguard
Davis, CA – The City of Davis is clarifying some of the proposed electrification actions in the Draft 2020-2040 Climate Action and Adaptation Plan (CAAP) in response to concerns that have been raised by community members. The City is committed to mitigating the local impacts from climate change by implementing actions to reduce greenhouse gases (GHG) and decrease climate risk.
The CAAP seeks to prepare the community for climate change impacts while bringing the City into compliance with California legislation (including anticipated changes in the California Energy Code) and regulations to reduce GHG emissions in which there are multiple laws that must be followed. In addition, the CAAP supports the City’s goals, policies and programs and celebrates a culture of sustainability for which the City is known. The CAAP is important for improving community health, supporting long-term energy affordability and achieving carbon neutrality.
“Working to address climate adaptation is an essential role of local government both to enhance quality of life and provide equitable solutions to climate change for Davis residents,” said Mayor Lucas Frerichs. “I’m confident that the City Council will continue to listen carefully to all of the community feedback provided during this public comment period for the draft CAAP, prior to taking action on a final CAAP later this year.”
It is important to note that the CAAP is a planning document that recommends carbon reduction and climate risk implementation actions and approaches, but does not establish City requirements.
The State of California’s Role
In 2018, the State of California established a landmark policy with Senate Bill 100 (SB 100), “The 100 Percent Clean Energy Act of 2018,” requiring renewable energy and 100% carbon-free electricity by 2045, with several benchmarks for jurisdictions to meet, including 60% electrification by 2030 and 100% by 2045.
Additionally, the California Energy Code contains required energy conservation standards for most jurisdictions, including the City of Davis, designed to reduce wasteful and unnecessary energy consumption in newly constructed and existing buildings. This Code is updated every three years, with the next implementation occurring January 1, 2023, and then again in 2026. The Energy Code will continue to create and implement policies to lead the State and its jurisdictions toward electrification to support California’s 100% electrification goal by 2045.
The City’s Draft 2020-2040 Climate Action and Adaptation Plan (CAAP)
In 2019 after the passage of SB 100, the Davis City Council adopted a target of community carbon neutrality by 2040, five years ahead of the State’s goal 2045. This means that the sum of Davis’ community carbon emissions (quantified by regular GHG Inventories) will be reduced through ambitious local CAAP actions, lowered through local/regional carbon removal opportunities and offset through carbon markets and industrial carbon removal, to a total of net zero.
The City of Davis is not alone in setting targets. The cities of Sacramento, Santa Rosa, Petaluma, San Francisco, Los Angeles and many others have begun to create, or have already developed, strategies to incorporate electrification.
The CAAP process began over a year ago with multiple public workshops, online surveys and outreach to the Davis community. The 28 actions currently identified in the CAAP were previously reviewed by City Council on May 24, 2022 for inclusion in the Draft CAAP to be circulated for public review and feedback. Development of the final CAAP will continue to be responsive to community input and will undergo certain revisions and updates before the requested adoption by City Council in December. The targeted date for City Council to review the final CAAP for approval is December 6, 2022. The accompanying California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) process is underway and staff anticipate Council adoption of the final document in February 2023.
Upon the anticipated December approval of the plan and the subsequent CEQA adoption, all proposed actions will be further developed; each action that requires an ordinance or other mechanism for implementation at the local level will have further community review and ultimately review and approval by City Council. Some actions, such as building electrification, may also require approval by the California Energy Commission or other State agencies.
Electrification and Its Importance
One way to decrease carbon emissions locally and increase environmental resilience is to reduce or eliminate natural gas in favor of renewable energy, such as electricity. The City is committed to advancing equity through the electrification process. Electrifying our buildings in Davis will provide additional, immediate benefits:
- Community Health: electric appliances do not emit air pollution that can cause asthma and other health impacts. Further, paired with good air filtration and home weatherization, electrification can provide protection from impacts of wildfire smoke.
- Energy Affordability: Gas prices are expected to rise significantly in the future. Switching to electricity protects residents from unaffordable energy prices.
- Resilience: Coupled with solar and battery storage, all-electric buildings can mitigate impacts of power outages.
- Safety: Gas has the potential to cause explosions, leaks and increased risk to residents, especially during disasters.
- Local Jobs and Economy: Transitioning to electric buildings with the latest technology will require a well-trained and well-paid workforce. Development of Davis’ electrification strategy can include supporting workforce training and local jobs.
- Real Estate Value: With most new construction in Davis opting to be all-electric, electrifying existing houses and buildings will make them competitive with new technology.
- Greenhouse Gas Reduction: Natural gas use in existing buildings comprises 12% of forecast emissions in 2030. Implementation of electrification actions reduces these emissions by 41%, providing significant advancement of the City’s carbon neutrality goal of 2040.
In addition, the electrification actions identified in the CAAP document (pages 46 to 53 and in Appendix A) include the four actions below, which are voluntary. When the CAAP is re-evaluated in 2025, the City will assess which voluntary actions may necessitate consideration of being required actions (depending upon the status of State Building Code changes, for example). These four actions will require further study and City ordinance development before being implemented:
- Action A.1: electrification at end of useful life or when replacement or remodeling requires a permit. Note that in the Draft CAAP this is proposed to apply only where the property owner is requesting the change, and only for equipment already being installed or replaced. In other words, existing equipment that uses gas or other nonrenewable resources will not need to be replaced until it is at ‘the end of useful life.’
- Action A.2: electrification at time of sale, with a defined fair and appropriate implementation schedule to be determined as part of future ordinance development. This proposed action in the Draft CAAP will consider a wide array of significant issues and costs to homeowners, such as any panel upgrades needed, age of equipment, age of home and other concerns. The City anticipates that not all electrification will need to be implemented at once at time of sale. The City is addressing identified concerns about this proposal before recommending or implementing any time of sale requirements.
- Action A.3: energy efficiency, cooling/ventilation in rental properties.
- Action A.4: electrification for new construction, including incentives and requirements for.
Eight, out of the total 28, CAAP actions are related to building energy. The CAAP’s other 20 actions address decreasing carbon emissions in the areas of transportation, land use, water conservation and more. The City is looking to decrease emissions across sectors, not only in housing or buildings.
The CAAP proposes voluntary electrification requirements for the present, based on education and outreach efforts. The City is working to secure funding for incentives and/or rebates for Davis residents to electrify their properties.
How to Electrify Existing Buildings
There are multiple options for replacing gas appliances with electric. The development of the Davis building electrification strategy through implementation of the actions above will include a phased ‘roll-out’ of requirements relating to various home appliance systems.
- Heat Pump Heating/Cooling: gas furnaces can be replaced with electric heat pumps in one unit.
- Heat Pump Water Heaters: electric water heaters can be over 300% more efficient.
- Induction Stoves: high-performance electric induction stoves have better temperature control, heat water faster and are safer than gas stoves.
- Heat Pump Clothes Dryers: electric dryers do not require venting of hazardous exhaust.
- Solar Rooftop Photovoltaics (PV) and Battery Storage: Costs for operating electric appliances can be largely offset by installing solar PV. Battery storage helps keep the electricity generated on-site until it can be used.
Development of the electrification strategy using the systems above requires solving many complex issues such as panel capacity, age of house and age of units to potentially be replaced. Active engagement of the Davis community will be sought in any ordinances or other requirements before adopting electrification actions.
Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI)
The City of Davis CAAP prioritizes equity and inclusion. Every action in the CAAP, including electrification, includes equity considerations and development of financing and incentives to help all community members, including low-income and other socioeconomic groups. The City is pursuing a variety of grant funding opportunities and regional collaboration to assist with implementation and outreach. More information about funding strategies can be found in the CAAP’s Appendix B: Funding and Financing Tools.
To read the CAAP document or get additional information about the community engagement process, visit: https://www.cityofdavis.org/sustainability/2020-climate-action-and-adaptation-plan-caap.
To submit your comments, concerns, and other input during the community review period ending October 10, please visit: https://cityofdavis.org/davis-CAAP-survey.
The City will organize and present the input received on the Draft CAAP to the City Council and will utilize this input to help inform modifications, clarifications and recommendations to the City Council as the City Council considers adoption of a Final CAAP later this year.