More policies needed by California to help move communities to renewable energy

In 2018, Desirous goals were laid out by California that would help to transform the energy system of the state. The SB 100 Bill directed that by 2045 all power generating companies to produce their energy from zero-emission sources. Therefore, companies such as Pacific Gas and Electric and Southern California Edison hope to work with the state and consumers to help them shift from gas apparatus to electric appliances. 

However, researchers from UCLA Institute of the Environment and Sustainability say that electrifying appliances would not have a significant impact in decreasing greenhouse gas emissions, suggesting that the state’s electric grid would be converted if the state fully embraces power usage from renewable sources only. 

The UCLA professor in residence, Stephanie Pincetl, said that the study’s main purpose was to understand the major hindrances to electrification, especially when carbon emissions and climate change are rising. 

Stephanie said that in California, full buildings’ electrification is a crucial policy goal though it needs a wide understanding of the repercussions, more so to the low-income communities. 

In their study, the UCLA researchers analysed the low-incomes’ gas usage patterns in 17,072 households in the area served by the Southern California Gas Company and compared those patterns with the average usage of the area served by Southern California Edison.

The study showed that electricity and gas consumption is the same, both in the mornings and evenings. However, the study also found that gas is mostly used in winter for heating and during summer to fuel water heaters, washing machines, ovens, and stoves. 

The study also found that cost is another factor that could hinder the transition. For instance, in Southern California, gas is much less expensive than electricity by four to six times. 

The following are some of the solutions to these challenges:

  • More emphasis should be given to replacing gas appliances in many areas. This would help grid transitions to renewables since the consumers would be released the burden for power’s high prices. 
  • The state regulators and lawmakers should give low-income households incentives to buy electric appliances to be able to replace the gas-powered appliances and the incentives to aid the low-income households to be able to cover the costs of operating the new appliances as they would use energy, which is a bit costly. 
  • California storage capacity for renewable power should be expanded. The major of power used during peak hours is the gas, but there is a need for gas plants to be restructured to meet the SB 100 Bill goals. 

Research Director for the California Center for Sustainable Communities at UCLA, Eric Fournier, said that there is much need to pursue storage and renewables efficiently.

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