Wednesday, April 19, 2023

Natural Gas Appliance Ban Overturned

 In March 2023, the Bay Area Air Quality Management District (BAAQMD) adopted rules effectively banning the replacement of some natural gas appliances after 2027. Gas-fired water heaters would have to be replaced with electric water heaters after 2027, and gas furnaces would have to be replaced with electric furnaces after 2029. The City of Berkeley started the 'ban the gas" movement in 2019, and that policy was adopted in other cities. 

On April 17, 2023, however, the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco overturned the ban. How or if that decision will impact the BAAQMD rules is unclear; however, the federal court found that the Berkeley rules were pre-empted by federal energy policy. This does not bode well for the district's rules.

Why is this important to homeowners' associations, especially condominiums? Because it is likely that retrofitting condo units that currently use natural gas water heaters and furnaces with electric versions will be very expensive. And perhaps compliance with the district's rules cannot be done at all in some buildings.

Electrical panels that distribute electricity to multiple condominium units are sized to a building with the electrical loads expected in mind. In many cases, the panel may need more capacity to provide what would be required for electric furnaces and water heaters. Even if the panel can be enlarged to allow for the extra load, the building and the units may need to be wired for electricity for furnaces and water heaters.

The panel and much of the wiring are likely common area which would mean the association would be responsible for upgrading sufficiently to comply with a demand for new appliances run on electricity.

While we applaud the environmental goals of anti-gas rules, retrofitting most condominium buildings would be a colossal expense and one totally unexpected in any reserve budget. 

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