The Santa Barbara County Board of Supervisors is set to adopt an “electrification ordinance” that will prohibit natural gas appliances in new construction and large remodels.
This ordinance is a superfluous effort in virtue signaling as it will at best reduce the county’s total greenhouse gas emissions by a mere 10,000 metric tons, which equates to less than a 1% reduction.
Of course, these numbers are actually all meaningless because the county omits in its inventory the emissions from natural sources, including our ginormous offshore oil and gas seeps. All emission reductions here locally from sources other than transportation and offshore seeps are quantitatively zero!
This effort is also redundant. The state of California recommends all-electric buildings become standard for residential construction starting in 2026 and non-residential construction starting in 2029. Why must these supervisors jump the gun?
This ordinance is also unrealistic because California does not have enough electricity to keep the grid operating right now before we also mandate the electrification of all cars and trucks.
As California had to forestall the closure of the Diablo Canyon Nuclear Power Plant because we could not do without the energy it generates — a “mere” 10% of the state’s baseload. Yet we can somehow do without fossil fuels and other “non-renewables,” which generate upward of 78% of electricity we share continuously with a Western States energy consortium?
Moreover, the existing grid is not capable of handling the extra load of going all electric regarding either transportation, residential and/or commercial natural gas usage. This includes the ability to move this electricity from renewable power sources and distribute the same throughout the community. That is, the need to create, distribute and store electricity from renewables presents an enormously expensive (financial cost) and unrealistic (the amount of land necessary) scenario as the production from the same typically occurs during off-peak demand usage. For instance, solar panels are most efficient between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. while the peak demand for electricity is after 5 p.m.
The use of natural gas is the most environmentally friendly and affordable form of energy available.
It burns clean, and it does not present the ecological costs associated with the procurement of raw materials by way of pit mining, the enormous amount of energy required to manufacture solar panels (in China using coal as a power source), not to mention the ecologically disastrous disposal costs of solar panels. By going all in on solar today, California is thereby creating tomorrow’s superfund site.
This was recently acknowledged by the Los Angeles Times, which reported that “discarded solar panels are likely contaminating landfills across California. (I)t once again shows that the rush to adopt green energy policies may have unforeseen consequences” (The same holds true for electric vehicle batteries).
Specifically, as another Los Angeles Times story pointed out, “The California Department of Toxic Substances collected its first data on panels recycled by universal waste handlers in 2021. For handlers that accepted more than 200 pounds or generated more than 10,000 pounds of panels, the DTSC counted (a mere!) 335 panels accepted for recycling! The department expects the number of installed solar panels in the next decade to exceed hundreds of millions in California alone, and that recycling will become even more crucial as cheaper panels with shorter life spans become more popular.”
Er, read that as our non-existent recycling program!
The supervisors should cease and desist in this effort as it never makes sense to put all your eggs in one basket, especially when so many of their eggs are obviously cracked! After our impending energy fall (Europe is going down first as we speak!), will anyone be able to put Humpty Dumpty back together again?
Andy Caldwell is the COLAB executive director and host of “The Andy Caldwell Show,” airing 3 to 5 p.m. weekdays on KZSB AM 1290, the News-Press radio station.