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Contra Costa supes suspend all-electric requirement in new buildings after court ruling

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CONTRA COSTA COUNTY – The Contra Costa County Board of Supervisors on Tuesday suspended enforcement of its requirement that most new buildings be constructed as all-electric buildings. 

The requirement, part of the county's building code, prohibited natural gas infrastructure in most new buildings and required developers to use electricity as the sole source of energy in the building.  

The board said in a statement that the all-electric building requirement will not be enforced.

The move came after the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit last month invalidated a Berkeley ordinance prohibiting natural gas infrastructure in new buildings.  

The appeals court said the federal Energy Policy and Conservation Act precludes cities and counties from adopting building codes prohibiting the installation of gas plumbing in buildings.

The board said it remains committed to improving public health and fighting climate change, which was its motivation in adopting the all-electric requirement.

On Tuesday, the board referred the topic of reducing greenhouse gas emissions from buildings to its sustainability committee and directed staff to report on alternatives for advancing the objective at the committee's next meeting.

"Contra Costa County remains committed to reducing the use of fossil fuels in buildings and continues to support the construction of new buildings using all-electric technologies," board chair Federal Glover said in the statement. "We are eager to identify new and innovative ways to continue to pursue our goal of reducing greenhouse gas emissions from buildings."

The county said it encourages residents and businesses to continue to install all-electric building systems and appliances. It pointed out the benefits include cleaner air and better health from fewer emissions, not having to pay to install gas pipes in new buildings, financial incentives and rebates for all-electric appliances, resilience against power outages when electric technologies are paired with battery storage, and preparing for the potential discontinuation of gas appliances in future regulatory actions.

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