Recently, I read that residents within the Bay Area Air Quality Management District’s purview had until Feb. 6 to comment on the ridiculous proposal to entirely ban the use of gas appliances within the next five to six years. So, although late, here are my thoughts on this subject.
Often, government officials, as those in the management district, have little or no connection to reality and therefore shouldn’t be making command decisions affecting so many lives. Looking at the average salaries, perks, pensions and the backgrounds of those in the district’s decision-making positions, they are entirely out of touch with the financial resources available to average district households. Consequently, they should not be forcing individuals to replace gas-powered appliances with all-electric ones.
Their intent really seems to be to bankrupt a single generation and leave a legacy of banning gas to save the world even though their plan will only make an infinitesimal difference in worldwide emissions. If this is their motive, then indeed, ban gas, but history will show that their mandate to convert to all non-electric appliances will surely be recognized as pure lunacy.
Such changes they are deciding on must be based on the economics, which is definitely not the case here, and need to evolve naturally and voluntarily when there is an economical advantage for people to convert to electric-based solutions and after it is clear that there are no “unintended consequences” that governments have always missed after mandating regulations.
For example, most people question the adequacy of the power grid to handle more capacity. Others question the ability to have alternate back-up cooking and heating capabilities in times of grid interruptions. And don’t forget the lack of adequate power grid security. As the electrical grid becomes the primary, if not sole, source of power, it will become an even greater magnet for malicious disrupting attacks than they are now. Also, electrically heating a home is more expensive than with gas and will surely be even greater when demand is higher.
The cost estimates for converting one’s house to all-electric appliances easily reach $30,000. And when everyone wants the same thing at the same time, yes there will be wire shortages, electrical appliance shortages as well as electrician, plumber, and furnace installer shortages which will run the price up another 40+%. Maybe $40,000 would be a better estimate to replace and install new electrical appliances and rewire your house to accommodate them.
With 2.3 million household units in the district, if only half needed to convert at a cost of only $20,000, the total impact would be $20 billion. Could this be better spent on more immediate problems as better local transportation (not the high-speed train) or the never-ending homeless problems or better public schools? Oh, and don’t forget the price of that electric vehicle ($40,000 minimum) that will be mandated by the state.
There was an interesting article related to this subject written by Tunku Varadarajan published in the Wall Street Journal Feb. 20, that interviewed Nathan Myhrvold, a very believable applied scientist and yes, a believer in climate change. Mr. Myhrvold believes mankind isn’t capable of reducing emissions enough to keep temperatures from rising unacceptably based on there being no measurable emission reduction during the years of the COVID shutdown which resulted in much lower carbon emissions. In fact, models he is familiar with show that if we stopped all emissions immediately, the earth’s temperature would continue to increase for the next 100 years and only after 145 years would we be back to the temperature we are at today.
Instead, he is a proponent of geoengineering technologies that include re-reflecting sunlight back into space, directly capturing carbon emissions, and shielding sunlight using micro particles dispersed into the upper atmosphere. Admittedly, these all have issues rendering them impractical at this time but the point here is that an immediate simple-minded solution to a problem that may not be solvable in any practical timeframe while bankrupting a generation and ignores any technological breakthroughs that will most likely occur in the future decades. Would the $20 billion “tax” on only Bay Area households and an even higher number when the rest of California as well as the entire United States is included in similar mandates be better spent on emission research?
Victor Carboni was born in San Francisco and has been a resident of San Mateo for 50 years. He is a graduate of UC Berkeley with degrees in physics, engineering and an MBA.He is retired from a field of technology involved with the design and protection of electronic devices as well as aircraft against lighting and other electromagnetic pulses.
Thank you very much for your letter. The left seeks to scare people with unsupported claims of “catastrophic climate change” to justify's California’s dysfunction energy policy. It is sheer lunacy to make homes and businesses dependent on a single source of power from California's woefully inadequate power grid. And even if you thought it was a good idea, retro-fitting homes is the most costly way to achieve it.
Before my retirement from the UC system, I was working with Air Resources Board staff on a project. They wanted to develop a formula for CO2 emissions associated with cogeneration facilities. Cogeneration is a highly efficient system that generally uses natural gas to produce steam for turbines and the resulting heat is used for other thermal purposes. While this group was very intelligent, they had advanced degrees in various disciplines, we could never come to an agreement on how to model such emissions. I finally took them to one of UC's cogeneration sites and had them talk with the system operators. It blew their minds when they had to face the intricacies of operating complex systems and we never heard from them again. I shudder to think what the outcome was of their report. Regulatory agencies seldom have a grip on reality and often impose unsubstantiated rules on the population. The BAAQM is no exception.
Mr. Carboni, thank you for your letter describing many reasons why banning gas is ridiculous. I’d add that these government officials (in addition to all of those pushing for all-electrification) haven’t addressed (or are afraid to, since it’ll destroy their narrative) where all their magic electricity is going to come from, if not natural gas power plants which have been providing over 50% of California’s electrical needs for at least the past 20 years, as California Energy Commission’s website shows. And likely more, should one decide to research further back. Looking forward to more of your letters… perhaps even on the technology you’ve been involved in, assuming it’s not confidential.
Welcome to the discussion.
Keep it Clean. Please avoid obscene, vulgar, lewd, racist or sexually-oriented language.
PLEASE TURN OFF YOUR CAPS LOCK.
Don't Threaten. Threats of harming another person will not be tolerated.
Be Truthful. Don't knowingly lie about anyone or anything.
Be Nice. No racism, sexism or any sort of -ism that is degrading to another person.
Be Proactive. Use the 'Report' link on each comment to let us know of abusive posts.
Share with Us. We'd love to hear eyewitness accounts, the history behind an article.