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A Better Building Code

A better building code keeps cost of construction low, prevents pollution and utilizes the grids clean energy.

Keep Costs Low

  New Construction – all-electric homes and offices cost less to construct than buildings using a combination of electricity and gas.
  Utility bills – all-electric buildings have utility bills similar to or less than mixed fuel buildings when using the same construction budget.

Prevent Pollution

  Electric appliances emit no toxic pollution, unlike their gas-powered equivalents.

Utilize the Grid’s Clean Energy

  Fossil fuel usage is at an all-time low and declining in the overall grid and increased local demand will be met by carbon-free sources via SVCE, not fossil fuels.
  All-electric can help with resilience because new gas appliances require electricity to function, energy resiliency is best managed with battery storage or a propane (long storage life) generator.

Videos to learn more!

Communities are Evaluating Reach Code Options

chart illustrating reach code cities - for accessibility assistance contact SVCE

Building Reach Code Options (from the chart above) – a summary of  the Residential requirements

1 = All-Electric inside the building;  May still have gas for outdoor applications, unless otherwise restricted
2 = High Reach (electric + natural gas inside);  If allowing this option, it is typically paired with one or more of the following:
a) pre-wiring for future electric appliances when installing a natural gas appliance (+ ~$1500),
b) an increase in energy efficiency requirements (+ ~$1500), and/or
c) an energy resource, like solar thermal or battery storage (+ ~ $7500).
2A = Mostly Electric (electric, except for gas cooking and/or gas drying);  If allowing this option, it is typically paired with pre-wiring at the stove and dryer for future electric appliance (+ ~$500)

EV Charging Code Options – because this is quite intricate, we are summarizing only whether the proposed local amendment is less than, equal to, or greater than the drafted code language provided by SVCE.

a chart key outlining reach code graphic - for accessibility assistance contact SVCE

Other Regional Reach Codes

for assistance reading this table please contact info@svcleanenergy.org

Frequently Asked Questions

Does PG&E have enough transmission capacity for the expected increase in electricity demand?

This answer has two parts – in general and then specific to a project location.

Generally speaking, yes, PG&E has enough transmission capacity.  New construction accounts for a very small fraction of overall electricity usage and occurs gradually, enabling PG&E time to accommodate.

At the site level, all projects are reviewed for impact on the local transformers and lines.  This will continue.  PG&E has been a participant in the reach code effort since the beginning and sent letters of support to all cities considering a reach code.

Does SVCE have enough generation capacity for the expected increase in electricity demand?

SVCE regularly reviews customer load compared to our energy contracts.  We began funding the development of new renewable resources starting in 2017 and continue to do so for this very reason.

What might be the positive or negative impact on a residential electricity bill for an all-electric home?

Using the same construction budget, all-electric homes provide similar or lower utility bills than comparable homes using gas.

What type of energy is on the grid?

SVCE is responsible for the electricity purchases for its territory.  All sources are carbon-free.  Load growth will also be met with carbon-free sources.

Other buyers in the energy market purchase coal or natural gas to meet their regional needs.  As renewables have increased, fossil fuel usage has decreased.  Over the last 10 years, natural gas is down from 45% to 35% today.  Coal is down from 18% to just 3%.  Renewables have increased from 11% to 31% over that same period.  All load-serving entities have a choice in what they buy.

https://ww2.energy.ca.gov/almanac/electricity_data/total_system_power.html.

Doesn’t renewable energy cost more?

This certainly was true a decade ago.  However, the cost of new generation coming from carbon-free sources is competitive to and often less costly than new natural gas power plants.

Isn't gas still used when the sun goes down?

More correctly, something other than solar must be used when the sun goes down.  This can be met by hydro, wind, natural gas peakers, and now by large scale battery storage often recharged by solar as SVCE has done.

Oakland to swap jet fueled peaker plant for urban battery

SV Clean Energy Signs major contracts for California’s largest solar-plus-storage projects

Is gas more resilient?

PG&E is also required to shut down gas service during fires and/or earthquakes.  Gas service was shutoff for tens of thousands during Camp and Kincaid Fires, some for over 10 days.

For new buildings with gas appliances, having gas service does not improve resiliency as new gas appliances require electricity for ignition and motors to function.  This includes tankless water heaters, furnaces, gas dryers, gas ranges (especially with digital controls).   Resilience is best handled with battery storage, propane (long storage life) generators or both.

Aren’t fuel cells twice as efficient as natural gas power plants?

True but somewhat misleading.  If all electricity were produced in this fashion, emissions within PG&E territory would actually rise compared to their current power mix, not reduce.  Even PG&E purchases most of their electricity (about 85%) from sources currently cleaner than this method.  Compared to what SVCE purchases, the increased GHG from using natural gas this way would be dramatically worse, as all SVCE sources are cleaner.  Any use of this technology in PG&E territory would rapidly move emissions in the wrong direction.

Do gas appliances affect my health?

Burning gas releases multiple harmful byproducts, including carbon monoxide and formaldehyde.  “Additionally, cooking emissions, especially from gas stoves, have been associated with increased respiratory disease. Young children, people with asthma, and people with heart or lung disease are especially vulnerable to the toxic effects of combustion pollutants.” – California Air Resources Board

Visit SiliconValleyReachCodes.org to learn more.