The Inland Empire Economic Partnership and Californians for Balanced Energy Solutions recently joined representatives from more than 20 cities to advocate for more inclusive and balanced energy policies in California.

These Inland Empire cities have passed resolutions supporting inclusive energy policies, in response to state agencies’ moves to eliminate the use of natural gas in the state.

The cities say they want fair policies for residents that keep utility bills affordable, maintain energy reliability, and preserve consumer choice.

About 90 percent of homes in Central and Southern California use natural gas for home space and water heating or cooking, and studies show that consumers favor natural gas for those uses because it is more affordable than electricity.

Many consumers are unaware that the California Energy Commission and California Public Utilities Commission are considering new regulations that aim to eliminate natural gas use in new and existing homes in favor of electric-only energy.

• "Riverside County needs effective and affordable energy policies that address air quality, reliability affordability,” said Kevin Jeffries, Riverside County Supervisor 1st District. “An inclusive approach that uses clean, safe, and affordable energy is critical. That does not exclude the use of natural gas in homes and businesses, which our residents prefer.”

• “The cost of switching gas appliances to electric-only in addition to an increase in energy costs would unfairly impact our low-income communities,” said Andy Melendrez, Riverside Mayor Pro Tem. “More than 65 percent of the working population within the Inland Empire commutes to Los Angeles and Orange County daily due to our lower housing costs. This would force more of our population to move further away from their jobs, increasing traffic, air-emissions and pollution.”

• “We need a balanced and inclusive approach to achieve California’s clean energy goals. A single solution is not realistic and puts many Inland Empire businesses and homeowners in jeopardy,” said Dr. Matt Rahn, Temecula City Councilman and Chairman of the Board, Californians for Balanced Energy Solutions. “Forcing hardworking businesspeople and homeowners to switch their operations and appliances to all-electric is costly and unfair. We need to pursue other cost-effective alternatives, including renewable natural gas.”

• “Inland Empire residents choose to live here for many reasons, but notably because the costs of living is lower. The CPUC’s decision to potentially force all homes and buildings to use electricity only and eliminate natural gas, which so many of our residents and businesses use daily, could significantly increase the cost of living for our communities. Knowing costs are a concern, and most consumers prefer natural gas, I hope state regulators will reconsider,” said Paul Granillo, CEO of the Inland Empire Economic Partnership and Vice Chair, Californians for Balanced Energy Solutions.

• “Achieving California's ambitious climate goals will require business leaders, non-governmental organizations, and policymakers to work together to re-imagine how California's energy infrastructure can operate as one, integrated system that maximizes emissions reductions and minimizes waste," said Sharon Tomkins, SoCalGas vice president for strategy and engagement. "Implementing a balanced approach that promotes advanced energy technologies will allow California to keep energy affordable and reliable and preserve consumer choice."

County and business officials noted that renewable natural gas is a more affordable and less disruptive alternative that would meet California’s climate goals. By replacing just 20 percent of California’s natural gas supply with renewable natural gas (RNG) produced from emissions at landfills, wastewater, farms, and treatment plants, the state would reduce emissions equal to converting 100 percent of buildings to run on more expensive electric-only energy by 2030. Using RNG to reduce emissions in buildings is also up to three times less expensive than an all-electric solution, and it allows families to keep enjoying natural gas cooktops, fireplaces, and their other gas appliances, all while helping California meet its ambitious environmental goals. SoCalGas recently committed to replacing 20 percent of its traditional natural gas supply with renewable natural gas (RNG) by 2030.

(John Orta is the education and workforce development manager for the Inland Empire Economic Partnership.)

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