SLO families shouldn’t have to worry about powering their homes

August 29, 2019

Supervisor Debbie Arnold


It is my honor and privilege to represent San Luis Obispo County’s 5th District at the Board of Supervisors. One of the things I’m most proud of is working with a broad range of community groups and interests to find common ground and promote better public access to information about policies that will impact local residents.

Currently, that means bringing attention to proposed amendments that appear to be phasing out the use of natural gas in the City of San Luis Obispo.

As a representative for residents of the city, I believe it is my duty to weigh in on a policy that would have unknown implications for those residing in San Luis Obispo and advocate on behalf of my constituents there.

I know from my experience as a County Supervisor that a great number of folks are typically not aware of all of the proposals before the Board of Supervisors or their local city council. But I believe all residents of San Luis Obispo should know about the proposal before the SLO City Council on Sept. 3, which would amend the building code to require all new buildings be constructed in a manner that would make them “electric retrofit-ready” beginning next year.

City officials say the amendments they are proposing do not constitute a ban on natural gas, such as the one approved by the City of Berkley. They have also said they do not plan to change codes affecting existing homes and businesses in the city.

However, the council’s intent seems clear. I cannot think of a reason to change the building code in this manner if there is no plan to eliminate the use of natural gas in the future.

The City of San Luis Obispo is a member of the Building Decarbonization Coalition, whose goal is to unite “building industry stakeholders with energy providers, environmental organizations and local governments to help electrify California’s homes and work spaces with clean energy.”

Earlier this month, the Coalition responded to an inquiry on Twitter about electrifying California’s building supply by saying “Don’t worry, we are going to win on existing buildings too!”

I am not aware of any public announcement by city officials that they were going to join such a coalition in the name of residents, and that is concerning to me.

Natural gas has provided clean, dependable, and affordable energy to San Luis Obispo County homes and businesses for decades. Equally as important, it has provided countless jobs to our neighbors who work day-in and day-out to ensure our homes have the affordable energy we need.

I hear from families every day who are working hard to make ends meet. We should be weary of any policy, no matter how well-intended its goals are, that could make it more difficult for families to pay their bills. We all want to make sure energy is affordable for families who call San Luis Obispo and the Central Coast home.


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Niles Q

Why doesn’t the City of SLO have a conflict of interest when they force everyone to go all electric, considering they would control the delivery of electricity with the community choice program


You are stating the obvious about a conflict of interest. Actually it’s quite creative.

Instead of pushing for a city owned Municipality where they float bonds to maintain payroll, mappers, engineers, a service center full of materials, transformers, line trucks and Troubleman trucks; the city has found a Work-Around. So, you have to wonder if the city is colluding with Monterey Bay Community Power to funnel all energy through each other’s scrutiny? Something like an agreement to scratch the back of one another politically, but deviously they both think they have the upper hand on each other. These things usually end badly for all parties when the non-profit is stripped of its tax exempt status after buying political influence.


Heidi the Almighty’s reign will soon be over.


Next step will be oil lamps and reading by candlelight.


How about whale oil, there’s lots of them and they’re green (sort of) .


The idea of no natural gas use was from Mayor Heidi Harmon and her girlfriend Quinn Brady, a local pot grower and a leader of the Democratic Central Committee and the SLO Progressives. As Adam Hill has pushed community choice energy, one can only guess someone is getting greased for this plan to push all energy providing in SLO into one basket.

We need justice in this county, but corruption is so pervasive, and the judges are governor appointed based on recommendations from Adam Hill and Bruce Gibson, it may be to late. It will be the poorer of our community who suffer the most, while corrupt politicians and those willing to pay graft prosper.


“Community choice” = jobs for people with no relevant experience. I met one and asked how electricity use at night would be carbon free. He parroted the City of SLO’s “electron bathtub” argument that they are not responsible for any carbon generated elections. He said he knew nothing, had no experience, but Monterey Bay Community Power provided a sweet job.


None of these administrators have a clue about thermal efficiencies. They don’t understand more gas is burned at the powerplant than at your house for the same end-use energy. Natural Gas burnt in appliances in your building has ~60% efficiency versus less than 38% thermal efficiency at powerplants that have natural gas boilers with a superheater. That efficiency is like only 25% efficiency for a nuke because of the lower pressure steam. In all thermal powerplants the majority of energy/work is lost when converting the wet steam leaving the turbine back to pump-able water in the condenser hotwell, then that heat goes out to the ocean, lake or cooling tower. Then there are I-Squared-R losses on all power lines that reduce efficiencies further as power is transported 100’s of miles.


Natural gas is not the same as oil in issues with the environment. This idea of council with raise energy bills 30 percent for those who now use gas. Disgusting failure to consider low-income residents. This will give a monopoly to the councils choice for community energy while costing the public money.


Re: “…no matter how well-intended its goals are”

Apparently there are two goals. #1 Carbon Neutrality- Which is mumbo-jumbo for collecting offset money. #2 Virtue signalling about methane/natural gas when in reality we aren’t releasing unburnt methane. We burn natural gas to get water vapor, CO and CO2. A fat person exercising has the same gas output. So, forget about methane unless you want to measure decaying compost piles along with human and animal farts. Natural gas burns in a lean blueish flame. Conversely, candles and fireplaces flames are burning richer fuel as noted by a yellow to orange flame.

A real measurable goal would be natural gas BTU reduction, which requires SoCalGas to provide cu.ft. or BTU per dwelling now and each year into perpetuity. I’ve seen no mention that the city will be taking any measurements of carbon ppm in the air today as a baseline, so they can validate any improvement caused by their “all electric intervention”. Also, SLO City apparently is fearless and blowing off any effects of EMF, which was another hypothetical problem promoted by smartmeter haters. Then there’s electric rates after the electric company gets to write off Diablo and add return on capital for system upgrades that the CPUC hasn’t even seen yet in the 2021 rate case.

So, here is the reality. When you need to heat your house and water with electricity AT NIGHT, that power comes from natural gas turbine generators, nuclear, hydro and some minuscule wind. Nuclear is base loaded and can’t follow load. Your evening to morning area load curve is being powered by natural gas plants raising and curtailing load. So, the natural gas you won’t be burning at these new SLO homes instead will be burning in a natural gas powerplant in Taft, Pittsburgh or somewhere on the 500kV intertie to give you electricity. Community Choice Energy is a scam until there are acres of batteries on the transmission system that can deliver the renewable stored electricity. I’ve only seen the CPUC promoting small distribution system sized batteries in seatrain containers at this point.

The physical concept you need to visualize is how the present electric system is stabilized with heavy rotating mass generators that maintain the 60Hz and do well to mitigate frequency excursions. Because of the combined totality of large generator masses coupled as a physical mechanical motive force, the electric system can absorb occasional 50,000 amp phase to ground faults without tripping generators off-line. Solid-state rectifiers and large solar farm inverters alone powering the grid don’t have the same robust fortitude of rotating mass generators.

Bottom line. If SLO City is not going to actually measure improvement with air sampling instruments or at a minimum set gas BTU reduction goals per dwelling with SoCalGas data, then this is purely a money generating scam with a sprinkle of feel good. What confirms this is that there are provisions that allows the affluent elites a Work-Around by buying carbon off-sets.


Good to know we have someone who wants to make sure energy is affordable for people who call SLO their home. Unfortunately, the homes themselves are not affordable. We need more leaders like this.


There is absolutely NO REASON to trust the SLO City Council’s hollow, false assurances because they want to FORCE tenets of the far left eco-agenda onto the homeowners and businesses of SLO. While parts of SLO see trash piling up with increasing homeless encampments , they piddle with these bad initiatives which will drive up home prices. Will this nightmare in SLO never end?


What a milquetoast statement. A whole lot of words and the only important word was erroneous. Not *weary*! – it should be *wary*.

Last Individual

All that enlightened explanation destroying your apparent position, and all you can find to complain about is one misspelled word. Just because Supervisor Arnold did not resort to the progressive name-calling hyperbole you are used to seeing from your friends, you characterize her comments as “milquetoast”. How do you know she didn’t mean exactly what she said? I know I am both weary and wary of government. As I was reading the article, I was thinking that I am glad I don’t live in the City of SLO, but if the progressive powers that be get their way in SLO, they will come after the rest of the County next. I must agree with jimmy_me. “We need more leaders like this.”