Flames burn on a gas stove on Jan. 17, 2023.
Flames burn on a gas stove on Jan. 17, 2023. / Photo by Ariana Drehsler

Congress feuded over a mere suggestion last week that gas-powered stovetops could be banned in the United States, but the city of San Diego has already committed itself to gutting almost all buildings of gas-powered everything — stoves included. 

The dispute in the capital erupted after a new study linked  the methane-powered devices to 13 percent of childhood asthma cases nationwide. The Biden Administration isn’t actually proposing a ban, as Politico reported, but the mention of a hypothetical one by a member of the Consumer Product Safety Commission sparked swift backlash from Republicans and a wave of media coverage over whether it was time to retire the natural gas-powered stovetops of America. 

San Diego, by way of Mayor Todd Gloria’s update to the city’s Climate Action Plan, passed in 2022, is already committed to retiring them. That plan’s goal is to eliminate almost all natural gas use from buildings in the city by 2035. It includes not only buildings that have yet to be built, but calls for retrofitting apartments, restaurants and skyscrapers to run solely on electricity. 

This City of San Diego graphic from the city’s Climate Action Plan describes how greenhouse gas emissions can be eliminated in a home. / City of San Diego

Such retrofits are costly, and the city’s plan sets a dramatic target: phase-out gas from 45 percent of existing buildings by 2030 and then 90 percent by 2035. Once achieved, that’s equivalent to cutting 1.9 million metric tons of greenhouse gasses generated in the city per year. San Diego’s director of sustainability and mobility said in November 2021 the city plans to make this huge electrification jump by approving new building codes.

This so-called decarbonizing of buildings is a key component of the city’s wider goal of cutting nearly half of all its emissions by 2035.

Cutting fossil fuels out of homes means replacing gas stoves with electric-powered induction stovetops and swapping out gas-powered water heaters for electric heat pumps to do both heating and cooling. But the city has yet to pass specific policies directing private homes and businesses on how to achieve such retrofits. First, San Diego is looking at how it will retrofit public buildings under a Municipal Energy Strategy.

But gas to electric conversion also renders useless some natural gas pipeline infrastructure and jobs needed to maintain it, a point local unions challenged the city to backfill with transitionary work or risk losing union support on the city’s most important element of their climate change-fighting target. 

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21 Comments

    1. The city switched its buses to natural gas to clean the air! So what’s up?
      Gas stoves have been around forever any professional cook and or chef prefers gas. Who did the study the electric company? We can’t support all this electrical use. Natural gas get it it comes from nature.
      Impeach Todd Gloria he’s no good for San Diego

  1. It’s time to remove Todd Gloria!! I am so sick of this movement. I’m sick of bike lanes and commuter movement… I’m driving my goddam car sand using my gas stove!!!

    1. And replace he/him with whom?

      Chris Ward?
      Nathan Fletcher?
      Stephen Whitburn?
      Sean Elo-Rivera?
      Raul Campillo?
      Joe LaCava?
      Kent Lee?
      Toni Duran?
      Jen Campbell?
      Georgette Gomez? 
      Maybe Nicole Capretz?
      How about Will Rodriguez-Kennedy?

      I’m just scratching the surface.

  2. A few questions please:

    Does SDG&E have the generating and transmission capacity to power all the new demand caused by switching to all electric buildings?

    Much of San Diego’s housing stock is older. Will the wiring support the extra power? Who will pay for the VERY expensive retrofit?

    When you have that figured out get back to me. . .

  3. Just replaced a gas water heater for a 12 unit building at a cost of $10,500. Gas is certainly cheaper than electricity to heat water. So, when I have to replace the gas water heater with an electric unit next time around, will Todd waive the rent control laws so that I can recoup my added expenses?

  4. What about equity?
    Electricity is significantly more expensive than gas (and who’s paying for all the new appliances?) so the latest wokism will hit poor people much harder than wealthy.

  5. Who will pay for the expensive re-wiring that older homes will need to replace all their gas appliances? This includes running high power circuits to the new electric appliances (in many cases). Older homes could also require installation of new main power panels to accommodate the greater load. This could run >$10K not including the new appliances themselves.

  6. This is why we have so many issues in California. Politicians can’t even get the basic infrastructure, upkeep and services right, but they want to make us believe their ‘New Plans “ will be diffident.

  7. The removal of gas stoves has been in national news since last week, so this is not just the San Diego area. However, what about gas dryers? Wouldn’t they pose the same risks? With recent unaffordable hikes in electricity prices, how exactly would consumers PAY to replace gas appliances, much less pay the increased electricity rates to run them? 97% of the expected population increase will be baby boomers over the age of 50, many on fixed incomes. Housing is already unaffordable. There’s gentrification, then there’s such a thing as “predatory capitalism” in which the wealthy don’t wait for an opportunity to prey on those of lesser means; instead they use their wealth and power to create and change laws to create more opportunities to do so.

  8. I’m going to gamble that homes built before some law or regulations are put into place, will be exempt from the rule.

  9. Hopefully, electric induction burners will be economically competitive with gas and resistance electric burners.

  10. Last summer, we looked into replacing our 30 year old Kenmore gas stove with an electric stove since repairs were getting more often and each repair visit seemed to cost $300. Induction electric stoves are superior to the old electric stoves but they are more expensive than gas ranges and, per our electrician, it would have cost about $900 for the new line and we did not need a new panel and the distance was short and straight. However, we would have had to replace almost all of our cookware since induction stoves/range tops only work with steel or iron. We ended up getting another gas stove. Many older homes will have to get new wiring and panels to replace gas appliances with electric ones. We did pull out our 100 year old gas furnace when we put in a heat pump system which is cheaper to operate and works better.

  11. Natural Gas is NATURAL. Been with our Earth forever.
    America has a very large amount of Natural Gas. Used to heat and cook by humans is natural. It’s not a pollutant its natural, much like CO2. Green energy is nowhere near enough power to provide us with power to heat, cook and drive cars just 200 miles.
    Adults is Europe see this failure coming and have changed their ideas.
    Seems here in San Diego we are lacking any real Adults.
    I, see NO reason to change from Natural Gas. Its pure Green Political control. Quit this nonsense.

  12. When we have an existential threat like climate change. And when there is a direct link between childhood asthma and methane and other chemicals produced by gas burning stoves in homes.

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