Gentrification, zoning, and a host of government edicts have destroyed working class neighborhoods in San Francisco forcing those on the lower end of the economic scale to flee The City over the last 50 years.
California, much like San Francisco, is now working on pursuing policies that ultimately will decimate the class middle as well as the working class statewide.
And there is one policy initiative above all others — eliminating the use of natural gas in home by 2045 – that may end up being the proverbial straw that breaks the camel’s back.
In San Francisco alone, city policy wonks put the conversion of 61 percent of the city’s homes that use natural gas to heat, cook, dry clothes, or operate water heaters at $5.9 billion. But that is just the cost of switching out appliances and furnaces.
There is a horribly high price to pay in terms of annual operational costs between natural gas and electricity.
Research done in a Dec. 16, 2018 for a story on natural gas versus electricity use for furnaces done by San Francisco Chronicle reporter Emily Beach underscores just how devastating that will be on a typical PG&E customer.
Seventy percent of the homes in California are heated by natural gas. That includes 10.8 million in PG&E territory. Roughly half of a typical household energy bill goes to heat and cool a home.
In 2018 it cost $14.02 to generate a million British Thermal Units (BTU) of heat using natural gas. The equivalent BTU generation in electricity costs $45.07.
Heating a typical home in a year using natural gas is $549 compared to almost $1,800 using electricity.
Keep in mind for the calculations in the Chronicle story the per kilowatt hour rate used was 15 cents — the average at the time for California as opposed to PG&E which is always higher.
Currently, if you stay within the first tier of usage you are paying PG&E 11.1 cents per kilowatt hour. The vast majority of households stray into at least the second tier where electricity costs 25.9 cents per kilowatt hour. And if you hit the third tier it is 32.5 cents per kilowatt hour.
PG&E since 2018 has imposed rate increases. Going forward there are significant rate increases coming due to wildfires and the need to “harden” the PG&E system. Meanwhile natural gas is not going up nearly as much.
While California and its for-profit utilities do not create easy-to-follow charts and post them on the Internet for the public to determine the annual cost of operating electric versus natural gas appliances for obvious reasons as it would trigger a massive public backlash, other states and energy companies operating in them aren’t as reluctant.
Washington Gas Co. that operates on the Mid-Atlantic Seaboard is one of them.
Their current costs for standard natural gas heating for a typical home is $579 a year and for a home with a high efficiency natural gas furnace it is $499 annually.
Compare that to standard electric system at $1,965 a year, a standard efficiency system with a heat pump at $838, and the highest electric high efficiency system with a heat pump at $787 annually.
It’s almost times three higher to use electricity for a standard water heater as it is $437 on an annual basis versus $165 for natural gas. Tankless water heaters are $414 for electricity for a year as opposed to $116 for natural gas.
Cooking with gas is $46 a year versus $101 for electricity.
As for drying clothes it is $35 a year for natural gas and $124 a year for electricity.
Why the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) whose founding mission is to look out for the best interests of consumers doesn’t make such comparisons clear is simple. It goes against the prevailing political correct goal of doing away with the use of all fossil fuel in California.
As for PG&E, besides not wanting to provoke the politically correct forces that control Sacramento with green agendas they view as sacraments or run afoul of the CPUC that has become a haven for green policies ahead of consumer interests, the firm profits immensely from people being forced to use more cost electricity.
Remember, they are guaranteed an 11.5 percent return or profit. So of it costs $1,965 a year to heat your house with electricity versus $579 with natural gas, they will pocket 250 percent more money.
Starting next month, a San Francisco ban on using natural gas in new construction goes into effect. That means going forward energy use, regardless of how efficient it is compared to electricity, will be roughly three times more expensive that the most efficient natural gas appliances and furnaces.
Don’t worry. The State of California isn’t far behind.
The CPUC last Thursday passed a mandate that starting on Jan. 1, 2023 all new residential construction must include breakers and panels that accommodate using electrical systems and appliances for heating, cooking and drying.
It falls short of requiring all-electric houses for now. But unless you just landed in California from Mars you know where this is headed.
The Environmental Protection Agency can cite study after study that’s shows natural gas is consistently 30 percent more efficient than electricity, but it doesn’t matter.
That’s because the greenies assume all electricity will be produced using hydro, wind or solar sources.
PG&E now has 33 percent of its electricity portfolio coming from solar, wind, geothermal, biomass and small hydro. Of their overall electricity production 78.8 percent is coming from greenhouse-gas free sources. The overlap reflects electricity production that falls into both sources.
But here’s the rub. The green crowd that is also pure PC wants to end nuclear power. At the same time, periods of drought substantially reduce not just available hydro power generated by PG&E but also what is available on the western power grid.
Eliminate nuclear power eventually and rely on hydro that is dependent essentially on snowfall, and you will set up a system where power is not only three times more expensive but also unreliable.
Go look at your PG&E bill. Let’s say it is $180 a month. Vision a future where prices miraculously don’t change in the next 20 years but you will be paying $540 a month more to use energy to do the same amount of heating water, cooking, drying clothes and heating your house.
Now think what paying $540 a month will feel like on a bone chilling late December day when there is a forced “brown out” — PG&E’s less menacing sounding term for a planned shutdown of a system as opposed to a “blackout” caused by an unexpected event. The heater is not working, you can’t dry your clothes nor can you cook, and all you get is cold water from the tap. That’s because less expensive and more efficient natural gas is illegal to use and there isn’t enough high cost electricity being generated to meet demand.
Get ready for a Third World experience at stratospheric California prices brought to you courtesy of the Sacramento greenie cabal.
This column is the opinion of editor, Dennis Wyatt, and does not necessarily represent the opinions of The Bulletin or 209 Multimedia. He can be reached at email@example.com