City councils are considering gas to electric conversion options.

Since little was said in the recent Menlo Park online presentation by their consultant about the typical conversion costs, I got an actual estimate from a local electrical contractor and added the costs of the new appliances that are needed. Here is the result for our three bedroom, two-bath ranch house in Palo Alto:

• Electric service upgrade to 200 amp panel, breakers, riser, conductors and permits: $5,382;

• New circuits for space heater, water heater, range/oven and clothes dryer: $5,105; and

• Appliances: 50-gallon water heater, forced-air Heater 65k BTU/hr, 30-inch GE range/oven, 7.5 cubic-foot GE clothes dryer and $500 installation charge for new piping to wtr htr and appliance connection: $4,479.

Total: $14,996.

Then, there is the ongoing large electric power cost at PG&E’s current residential rate of $0.25/kW-hr (Palo Alto rate is lower).

I think Dave Price (Daily Post) got it right when he suggested that the residents should vote on this expensive proposition. Before the vote, they should be informed of the approximate cost to the city (us) of the electricity distribution upgrades this consumption will drive and the net effect on global warming reduction it would provide.

Stuart Hansen

Palo Alto

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(4) comments


Thanks for the estimate. The other intangible cost is it eliminates natural gas as a back up source of power in an emergency.

Terence Y

Thank you, Mr. Hansen, for providing some real numbers to the costs of upgrading to electric-only. Supposedly, this electric-only mandate is to help with global warming, but although it may make people think they’re actually doing something, in reality, the electricity is mostly coming from carbon-based generation systems. To wit, Newsom just authorized the building of five new gas-powered plants in CA to help with electricity demands because this renewable energy thing just isn’t cutting the mustard. Make sure you keep matches and firewood, or charcoal briquettes in stock because when PG&E has more inevitable outages, you’ll need to cook and heat water the old fashioned way.

Dirk van Ulden

Stuart - you are correct. For the record, until my retirement I was the senior energy engineer for the University of California system in the Office of the President. Based on a Btu per Btu basis, electricity is 5 times more expensive than natural gas. Also, in PG&E territory we have just been placed on time-of-use rates making electricity from 4 to 9 pm far more expensive than during the day. That is exactly when one heats and when one cooks. PG&E even admits that this rate structure is in response to the need to buy brown energy as sufficient green energy is not available during those hours.

The life cycle cost, including the initial expense and the ongoing utility billing, will be unaffordable for most. All in the name of climate change? The perpetrators of these mandates are clearly not aware of, or even purposely ignoring, the gas to electricity conversion ramifications. Our city councils should demonstrate political courage and scrutinize the studies that are being forwarded by biased consultants. Ask any professional energy engineer and he or she will agree with me.

Ray Fowler

Hey, Dirk... the answer was splashed across TV screens last week when networks featured AOC's suggestion emblazoned across her... um, dress. Tax the Rich!

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