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Adopting all-electric reach code would make new residential developments use electric rather than gas

Sonoma Clean Power (SCP) headed to town last week to present to the council about the possibility of adopting an all-electric reach code for new properties in Cloverdale. Adopting an all-electric reach code has been a recent topic around the county, as it would aid in lowering the amount of per-home emissions.

Should it be adopted, Cloverdale’s all-electric reach code would only apply to single family residential construction, new construction of accessory dwelling units and multifamily residential properties under four stories. The code wouldn’t apply to alterations or additions of single family, multifamily or commercial properties; new construction of commercial property; or new construction of multifamily over four stories.

At its core, the all-electric reach code will aid the city and county in getting closer to various energy and greenhouse gas-related goals — including a 40% reduction in greenhouse gases in buildings by 2030 (AB 3232), and going carbon neutral by 2045 (an executive order signed by former Gov. Jerry Brown in 2018).

According to the presentation from SCP, energy efficiency-related reach codes have to be proven to be cost effective and must be re-approved every three years as the city’s energy code is updated.

The cost of building all electric homes is anticipated to cost $6,171 less than building a home with gas, SCP Senior Programs Manager Rachel Kuykendall said.

The options

As Cloverdale entertains the idea of adopting a reach code, there are three options for it to consider: doing nothing besides the required adoption of the updated state energy code (which includes a requirement for solar panels on new builds); an all-electric favored reach code, which states that homes built with gas have to meet a higher energy efficiency standard; an all-electric reach code, which states that all newly constructed single family homes must be electric. Kuykendall said that multiple Sonoma County towns are considering the all-electric reach code, with Santa Rosa, Windsor and Petaluma wanting to go with that option.

There was limited public comment, with most questions directed toward Kuykendall having to deal with clarification of the estimated cost comparison between building all electric and gas homes.

“Most of the work I’ve done in the last 30 years or so has been single family and low rise residential,” said Pete Gang, an architect who came forward during public comment on the presentation. “I’ve also been deeply engaged in the wild world of green, sustainable building and I have just taken it on myself at least for the last 10 years to strive for the goal of net zero homes. They have almost all been all electric, and I have dealt with all of these issues that have come up for discussion. In my own experience, all electric is easy, it’s sensible.”

All of the council (Vice Mayor Gus Wolter was absent) was in favor of adopting either the all-electric reach code, or the all-electric favored reach code. However, all expressed wanting to discuss the issue further before making any decisions.

Up next

As this was the first time information about the code was brought to the council, the council directed the city to have the item move to the planning and community development department, where it will be discussed in further detail, as well as work on putting together a workshop to discuss the code with developers.

The process to adopt a reach code is public and multi-pronged. Going forward, Cloverdale is required to hold two public meetings before adopting the code. In order to have the code come in at the same time as the state’s energy code on Jan. 1, it has to be submitted to the California Energy Commission for approval by Oct. 1. The city will be scheduling a special planning and community development subcommittee meeting to discuss the reach code, with the goal of getting the code pushed through in time for the 2019 energy code adoption in January. 

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