Berkeley natural gas ban will hit apartment dwellers in pocketbooks: Bay Area developer

Berkeley, California became the first city in the nation to ban natural gas from new buildings after a city council vote last week.

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The ban, which takes effect at the beginning of next year, applies to the construction of all new residential homes and buildings up to three stories.

The city's electricity is mostly powered by wind and solar, and natural gas is used mostly for heating, cooking and hot water.

It follows a California Energy Commission finding that electrification is more cost-efficient than natural gas.

“We are looking at making construction costs lower. At the same time, the energy costs will be lower because these electric devices are much more efficient. They are not your old-fashioned heaters. They use a new technology that is about four times as efficient as your typical gas appliance,” Kate Harrison, a city councilmember, told FOX Business’ Robert Gray.

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However, according to Patrick Kennedy, an expert developer who builds high-density apartment buildings in Berkeley and San Francisco, the ban will add to the cost of living in the Bay Area. He said it typically costs about $3 to $4 per month to heat water in a three-bedroom apartment and adding an individual electric hot-water heater in each room would cause that to swell by 10 or 20 times per month, and up to an additional $3,000 to $4,000 per apartment.

Other cities across the state are also considering similar bans.