https://almanacnews.com/square/print/2022/01/15/guest-opinion-why-electrification-now-is-counter-productive


Town Square

Guest opinion: Why electrification, now, is counter productive

Original post made on Jan 16, 2022

In a guest opinion, Menlo Park resident Alexander Cannara touts nuclear power as a reliable clean energy source for California's drive to go all-electric.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Saturday, January 15, 2022, 9:01 AM

Comments

Posted by sim
a resident of another community
on Jan 16, 2022 at 3:18 am

sim is a registered user.

This article proposes that we wait until the electricity supply has been decarbonised before we expand our electrification footprint (electrify everything). So, let's wait 30 years to decarbonise, and then wait another 50 years to completely electrify, right? Wrong!
We need to take a twin track approach of decarbonising our electricity supply AND going electric. or we will never defeat climate change.
And as for intermittent electricity from Wind and Solar, every KWh generated from Window and Solar is one less KWh required to be generated from gas. For example last year California generated 24% of its electricity from Wind and Solar, that's 24% that would otherwise have been generated from Gas and Coal, and there is plenty of scope for growth. So, keep on growing those intermittent sources, keep on decreasing heating and cooking from Gas, keep on working to increase battery storage, keep on developing less intermittent generation source, and keep on using nuclear, and keep on expanding the electrification footprint: do it all, and do it all NOW, or accept that disastrous climate change is inevitable.


Posted by Menlo Voter.
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Jan 16, 2022 at 11:41 am

Menlo Voter. is a registered user.

The one item missing from this very well written piece is that much of MP is running on "renewables". It is at roughly the same cost as PG&E's regular power supplies but is "guaranteed" to be all "green". That doesn't really matter when considering forcing everyone in MP to all electric, as the demand goes up the ability to supply "clean" power will go down. Not to mention the infrastructure costs that will have to be borne by someone to accomplish something that won't even move the needle on the worlds CO2 emissions.

The MP council people that would force this on everyone need to educate themselves as to what this opinion pieces describes before they start trying to shove electrification down everyone's throats. Electrification without clean energy accomplishes nothing.

Oh and PG&E's lap dog, the CPUC, just put a big fat nail in the coffin of one source of clean energy - rooftop solar. The costs will now be totally untenable for anyone considering putting in solar that would like to have some reasonable return on that investment.


Posted by Angela
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Jan 17, 2022 at 12:28 pm

Angela is a registered user.

This is Angela Evans, Environmental Quality Commissioner, though I'm posting here as myself. Actually, there is a misperception in the above article that needs addressing: 100% of our electricity in San Mateo County is carbon free (does not create greenhouse gas emissions).

We are working hard to educate our community about this; many people do not yet realize this. See the website of our county's energy provider: Peninsula Clean Energy (peninsulacleanenergy.com): "The modern, all-electric home is more comfortable, energy efficient and healthier for your family and the planet. By using highly efficient electric appliances for heating and cooling air, heating water, drying clothes and cooking, you won’t be combusting methane gas in the home. Instead, as a Peninsula Clean Energy customer, you’ll be using 100% carbon-free electricity."


Posted by James Pistorino
a resident of Menlo Park: The Willows
on Jan 17, 2022 at 3:13 pm

James Pistorino is a registered user.

Following up on Angela Evan's comment, with her hard work, the work of the EQC, and the City Council, most people in Menlo Park face higher electricity rates.

Normally, companies cannot automatically sign you up for their services and charge you unless you opt-out. For example, Comcast could not automatically sign you up for the highest tier cable plan and start charging you, without your consent. If they did, you would not be responsible/Comcast may be engaging in fraud.

That is exactly how Peninsula Clean Energy (PCE) works and, sadly, it is provided for by statute. When you purchased your house, rented an apartment, etc., you probably signed up for PG&E service, still get bills from PG&E, and probably think they are your electricity provider. In almost all cases, this is not true. If you look closely at your bill, you will see a charge from "PCE."

PCE is a so-called "community choice aggregator" formed in 2016 by several cities in San Mateo County, including Menlo Park. Web Link PCE buys electricity from generators and then sells it to customers. How does it get customers? They automatically signed you up as one and will charge you unless you object promptly. While PG&E, etc., are prohibited by law from doing this, as a "community choice aggregator", PCE is not. See Cal.Pub.Util.Code Sec. 366.2. So, that is exactly what PCE has done.

It is a point of pride for the EQC/City Council that only about 5% of customers realize that they have been involuntarily switched to a different electricity provider and objected. If you did not realize that they switched you without your consent within one year of them doing it, they charge you $5 to withdraw from their program. Web Link

If you were signed up for the 100% renewables program (as described by Angela Evans), you are certainly paying higher rates than if you stayed with PG&E. Search "PGE joint rate comparison."


Posted by MenloVoter.
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Jan 17, 2022 at 3:41 pm

MenloVoter. is a registered user.

Angela:

and can the power delivered to San Mateo County continue to remain carbon free when the demand is substantially increased by forced electrification?


Posted by sim
a resident of another community
on Jan 17, 2022 at 4:32 pm

sim is a registered user.

Angela Evans states "100% of our electricity in San Mateo County is carbon free"
Menlo Voter asks "Angela asks: "and can the power delivered to San Mateo County continue to remain carbon free when the demand is substantially increased by forced electrification?"

There are two different things. Electricity delivered to San Mateo County is carbon free, but "power" includes all that existing gas heating, cooking, etc. So the overall *power* is not currently carbon free because of all that gas. So we can move to electricity without increasing the carbon footprint, while the supply of carbon free electricity still grows. The alternative is to increase the direct use of carbon producing gas.


Posted by Menlo Voter.
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Jan 17, 2022 at 6:20 pm

Menlo Voter. is a registered user.

Sorry Sim:

You're ignoring the elephant in the room. You force people into all electric, you automatically increase the demand for electricity. In the case of San Mateo County "carbon free". When the demand is significantly increased will there be sufficient "carbon free" power? I doubt it. Carbon free power sources are not growing, as you suggest, in fact, things like the ultimate carbon free power source, nuclear, is being taken off line, REDUCING the supply. Not to mention PG&E's cynical game plan to make it more expensive to use rooftop solar. Aided and abetted by their lap dog the CPUC. Every place PG&E's plans have been implemented by other power companies solar installations declined precipitously.

And when all this extra power is needed and it isn't available from "carbon free" sources, where does it come from? That's right, gas fired plants. Plants that use gas inefficiently to produce electricity to provide heat. Heat that could be provide much more efficiently by directly burning gas.


Posted by Angela
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Jan 17, 2022 at 6:21 pm

Angela is a registered user.

In answer to your question, yes. Peninsula Clean Energy provides 100% carbon free energy to all of San Mateo now. Peninsula Clean Energy will continue to provide 100% carbon free energy in the future, even as electricity demand goes up to account for electrification of all building stock. See number 5 on this FAQ sheet, provided by Menlo Spark. There is a quote from the CEO of Peninsula Clean Energy that verifies these statements. Peninsula Clean Energy is prepared for all of these increases. Web Link


Posted by Menlo Voter.
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Jan 17, 2022 at 6:24 pm

Menlo Voter. is a registered user.

Sorry Angela, but I'd like to see the actual data behind the assurances that there will always be plenty of "carbon free" power. I don't buy it and it is an easy claim to make. Even with the data, if they properly massage it, it can show whatever they want it to. Show us the raw data please.


Posted by Betsy Roble
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Jan 17, 2022 at 8:14 pm

Betsy Roble is a registered user.

I am all for cleaner energy, but before we go 'all-electric' let's find a way to create more reliability in the power supply. I get tired of power outages - planned or otherwise.

To the notion that our power is 100% clean/renewable/etc.: there is no dedicated carbon-free wire to your home. Electrons mix together from all sources; coal, gas, nuclear, solar, hydro, wind. Our power bills are used to purchase power from renewable producers, but once the power enters the system, it is just power.

Everyone is angry that PG&E has an infrastructure well-past its' useful life - which seems to burn down increasing amounts of California, but remember this: PCE pays absolutely NOTHING to maintain or replace infrastructure. All PCE (and other CCA's) have done is take away revenue and profitability from PG&E and leave them only a portion of your monthly bill to cover the costs of infrastructure. Also remember that PCE is not a power producer nor a power provider; PCE is simply a middle-man and broker taking a cut of the 'action' and making a handsome profit. How nice to start your own utility without any of the overhead associated with production, distribution, maintenance/repair, and the thousands of employees and trucks we all depend on to keep the lights on. They don't even bear the cost of mailing you a bill - they simply tack their fee onto PG&E's bills. Nice work if you can get it.

Don't lose your minds - I am all for clean energy - just not convinced that PCE is the golden savior.


Posted by Betsy Roble
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Jan 17, 2022 at 8:27 pm

Betsy Roble is a registered user.

Apologies - I should have said ..."to the best of my knowledge, PCE pays absolutely NOTHING to maintain..." If PCE does contribute to maintenance of infrastructure, I stand corrected.


Posted by EPL
a resident of Menlo Park: The Willows
on Jan 18, 2022 at 6:46 am

EPL is a registered user.

Hi Alexander. Regarding the question about clean energy in San Mateo County (and Los Banos), check out this statement from Peninsula Clean Energy:

Web Link


Posted by EPL
a resident of Menlo Park: The Willows
on Jan 18, 2022 at 6:50 am

EPL is a registered user.

Hi James (Pistorino) - New electrical users are indeed by default added to PCE, but only to their default service ECOPlus. EcoPlus is cheaper than PG&E and is 100% carbon-free. The Eco100 service is slightly more expensive than PG&E and is 100% renewables.


Posted by James Pistorino
a resident of Menlo Park: The Willows
on Jan 18, 2022 at 7:17 am

James Pistorino is a registered user.

Hi EPL:

For those that do no want to read a long document you linked to, here is the relevant passage:

"However, this annual accounting standard ignores whether our contracted generators produce electricity at the same time our customers use it. At certain hours, our contracts generate less clean energy than our customers are using. During those times, we must rely on generic grid electricity (most of which in California comes from methane gas power plants) to make up the difference.* In other hours, our contracts generate more clean energy than our customers use. Under the current standards, we can “credit” this excess clean generation to the hours when we rely on fossil-based grid energy and net
out our grid energy use on an annual basis. While the excess renewable generation we contribute to the grid in some hours generally displaces fossil generation, we continue to send a demand signal for fossil-based energy in those hours when our clean energy contracts do not match the timing of our customers’ energy demand (figure 1)."

Thus, when the wind blows and the sun shines, PCE can purchase electricity from those providers. When it does not or there is much less (e.g., at night, in winter, etc.), PCE relies on the fact that PG&E has natural gas, etc., generators ready 24/7 to provide sufficient electrical service to meet all demand. All of that baseline PG&E capacity, customers will have to pay for no matter what, but with PCE, they also are treated to paying for solar and wind generators.

Using only batteries to store electricity over the gaps and eliminate the need for natural gas, etc. (which there is no known technology capable of doing), is estimated to raise the cost of electricity in California between 14 and 22 times. The PCE document you cite to admits this.

As to EcoPlus and Eco100, you are correct. I did not catch the distinction being made between "carbon free" and "renewable." EcoPlus uses ~50% hydro and nuclear power.


Posted by EPL
a resident of Menlo Park: The Willows
on Jan 18, 2022 at 12:32 pm

EPL is a registered user.

James, I did not quote from the document because I didn't want to cherry pick and I trusted readers to spend a few minutes reading the whole thing, not just what I - or you - chose to highlight. PCE is very transparent on what they are doing, both in the challenges and in the progress. In particular the paragraph just after the one you highlighted expands on the strategy.

To balance your quote, here is one from a summary paragraph later on:

"Meeting our 24/7 renewable energy target will require a combination of supply-side and demand-side strategies that together can help match supply and demand around the clock. On the supply side, we plan to procure a diverse portfolio of resources that most closely match our load and utilize energy storage to shift excess generation to the times when we need it.

On the demand side, we can use load shaping and load shifting to better match the timing of our energy demand to the times when renewables are more available. By evaluating these strategies together, we can design a portfolio that most cost-effectively allows us to meet this goal."


Posted by EPL
a resident of Menlo Park: The Willows
on Jan 18, 2022 at 12:33 pm

EPL is a registered user.

Still for James... where is the quote in the PCE document about the 14-22x raise in the electricity cost? Page?


Posted by sjtaffee
a resident of Menlo Park: The Willows
on Jan 18, 2022 at 1:42 pm

sjtaffee is a registered user.

A change like we're undergoing now - from fossil fuels to renewable sources for electricity - is s bit like the high circus acrobat who is swinging from one bar to the next in which the moment from changing from one bar to the next fills the audience with gasps of uncertainty and is perilous for the acrobat as they hang in the air with no net below them.

Western civilizations have come to be so reliant on predictable, cheap sources of electricity that any threat to that, no mater how remote, is immediately shunted aside as unnecessary and foolish.

What I am saying is that the switch will not be perfect, and at times it may even seem not only inconvenient but dangerous. But it is necessary. We are already in the midst of a planetary apocalypse; the pendulum set in motion decades ago and the worst of it will fall on the next generations. Suck it up people and let's do what we can soften the bow. To return to be acrobat metaphor - let's help build a safety net for our children with a few sacrifices to our own comfort and pocketbooks. Seems a fair exchange for what could be their lives.


Posted by James Pistorino
a resident of Menlo Park: The Willows
on Jan 18, 2022 at 2:34 pm

James Pistorino is a registered user.

Hi EPL:

I am not sure there is anything to balance. To again quote their document:

"Even with all three of our strategies working in tandem, there are likely to be mismatches in supply and demand at certain times. The largest mismatches between renewable supply and demand are likely seasonal in nature. For example, because solar energy is more available in the summer, if we procure enough solar to match our wintertime demand, we would have a large amount of excess solar generation in the summer.
We can partially address this challenge by procuring non-solar resources such as wind and geothermal. We could also sell the excess solar to another entity that has a need for more summer resources. Storage may also be able to help address this in the future, however at this time, most seasonal storage technologies are immature or not widely available."

As they say, in order for something like this to begin to work, you would have to store electricity generated in the Summer and be able to efficiently draw on that in the Winter. There is no known battery technology that can do that ("immature or not widely available"). Assuming that such a battery technology did exist and costs what current batteries do, as I say, the estimate for California is 14 to 22 times more expensive. See Web Link

Other ideas for storage (e.g., pumped hydro storage) are simply unworkable, especially at scale, and every storage idea suffers from the fact that there is significant energy loss associated with storage. See Web Link Losses for pumped hydro are 15-30% of input energy.

The idea that: 1) electricity is going to be generated in South America during the Summer and transmitted to North America during the Winter; or 2) generated someplace where the Sun is shining/the wind is blowing and then transmitted long distances to California is a non-starter. Electrical transmission has its own losses.


Posted by EPL
a resident of Menlo Park: The Willows
on Jan 18, 2022 at 3:58 pm

EPL is a registered user.

James - you conflated two separated sources when you took an estimate from The Manhattan Contrarian (14 to 22x cost) and used in the context of PCE. PCE also does not say you must store energy from the summer to use in the winter. They do recognize that seasonality is a challenge to overcome; that is why they are combining sources, not just using Solar, and why there are looking at both demand and production.


Posted by James Pistorino
a resident of Menlo Park: The Willows
on Jan 18, 2022 at 5:50 pm

James Pistorino is a registered user.

EPL - My second quote was from a paragraph entitled: "Seasonal mismatches between renewable energy and load."

As shown in Figure 2 of the document, during the Winter, there is not a single hour of the day when wind, solar, geothermal, hydro, and storage discharging (combined) are even 80% of demand. During the Fall, it appears that 6 hours could be met (barely). Both during the Winter and Fall, most hours of the day, those sources are less than 25% of demand. Given that, where do you expect to get excess power from, especially at night? The only way to do that would be to store excess power generated during the Summer (particularly), assuming that there was such excess power. Again, there is no known battery technology to do this and other storage approaches are unworkable at scale, have significant power losses, etc.

Given that the entirety of North America experiences Winter at the same time and, therefore, solar generation is at its lowest continent-wide, where would PCE buy excess solar power from? If you say: "cover Arizona, New Mexico, Nevada, and Utah in solar panels", that just means you are going to massively overbuild and that project has significant costs. If your proposal is to spend 10X+ for power, then say it. Otherwise, be candid about the costs. Do not say "everyone will have to make sacrifices." Are you prepared to pay a $2K/month electric bill? If that is what your project costs, are you prepared to impose those costs on the lowest wage-earners? Or do you propose to have even more people dependent on government?

As I read the PCE article, they admit that the technology to do storage (other than for very short periods of time) does not exist. Manhattan Contrarian collected articles that assumed such a battery technology did exist, cost the same as current technology, and calculated the cost of providing sufficient backup to replace electricity. I do not think I conflated anything.


Posted by Brian
a resident of Menlo Park: The Willows
on Jan 18, 2022 at 8:27 pm

Brian is a registered user.

My issue is that the electricity we are getting now is not clean. PG&E transmission system is so poorly maintained that they set off massive wildfires every year in California. Aside from the tragic loss of life and property how many millions of trees are burned up? Dumping how many tons of pollutants and greenhouse gasses into the atmosphere? We can't burn wood to spare the air and yet PG&E is causing massive fires that burn down entire forests in a few days. Will increasing the amount of electricity being used by forcing people off of gas really help without fixing or replacing the electrical transmission grid? This has been brought up in other conversations I have read but I have yet to see a real answer to that question.

Also if we are trying to increase reliance on "Clean Energy" why was PG&E allowed to add a surcharge for people generating their own solar power?


Posted by Cheryl Schaff
a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on Jan 18, 2022 at 10:48 pm

Cheryl Schaff is a registered user.

I'm glad to read that Menlo Park residents are discussing how to mitigate this terrifying climate crisis. Seven of the last seven years were the warmest on record. We're running out of time to slow greenhouse gas emissions and prevent escalating numbers of devastating global climate impacts that are costing humanity billions. There are hundreds of available solutions to climate change...we just need the individual and collective will to use them NOW. Yes, it's time for government officials to be their most competent, for innovators to build out their wildest dreams, for businesses to realize they'll fail in worldwide economic collapse, for residents to take every step possible to reduce their emissions and for young people to scold their elders for their greed, lethargy and apathy. We need to work on every solution at once, and for Menlo Park residents, that means eliminating 41 PERCENT of our city's emissions that come from dirty methane gas appliances in our homes. (Methane is 84 times as powerful as CO2 in trapping heat.) So, yes, let's "electrify everything," based on strategic advice from elite scientists—think lead authors of IPCC reports and MacArthur Genius Grant recipients—eager to offer solutions that Menlo Park homeowners can implement in a reasonable timeframe with financial incentives and assistance. Yes, the demand for electricity will increase as we transition and look toward turning off the gas to our town. Peninsula Clean Energy (PCE), already supplying Menlo Park residents with clean power that's cheaper than PG&E’s, is working to increase procurement and solve the intermittency problems of solar and wind power. PG&E is planning to meet improved infrastructure requirements. PCE has saved its customers more than $17 million to date, which is probably why fewer than 2% of customers in San Mateo County choose to opt out. We’re ready to electrify, to try to leave a livable world to our kids and their kids. Let’s do this!


Posted by Menlo Voter.
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Jan 19, 2022 at 7:49 am

Menlo Voter. is a registered user.

Cheryl:

PCE's supplied power may be "cheaper" but only slightly. I've run the numbers with them to see the cost difference and in my case it amounts to about $2/month. Hardly what I'd call serious savings.

You along with all of the others on the electrification band wagon continue to ignore the fact that MP electrifying is a drop of water in the ocean. It won't even move the needle on green house gasses. Mean time you and others like you want to shove it down everyone's throats whether it will actually do any good.

Sorry, when you want to start paying my power bill and the costs to upgrade my electrical service, only then can you have a say in how and if I use gas. If you want to go all electric, knock yourself out. I, and many like me, don't.


Posted by Cheryl Schaff
a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on Jan 19, 2022 at 3:37 pm

Cheryl Schaff is a registered user.

You may learn more about electrification by attending a free webinar tomorrow. Here's the link:
Web Link


Posted by Brian
a resident of Menlo Park: The Willows
on Jan 19, 2022 at 7:32 pm

Brian is a registered user.

Cheryl,

Instead of trying to force the residents of Menlo Park to spend what could add up to thousands of dollars to upgrade their electrical systems (Many houses are post WW2 with Knob and Tube electrical systems and electrical panels that would need to be upgraded) why not first focus on making the transmission of Electricity safe. The fires caused by PG&E in the last few years have done more damage to our climate and environment than all the gas emissions that Menlo Park would generate in a century. What you want to do is add to the load on those transmission lines just exacerbating an existing problem that will lead to more wild fires, loss of life and property and more damage to the climate. I for one will not be replacing appliances that have many years of life left with new and in some cases less efficient electrical appliances. That would not be good for the environment, climate or my pocket book.


Posted by Ronen
a resident of Menlo Park: Suburban Park/Lorelei Manor/Flood Park Triangle
on Jan 20, 2022 at 8:05 am

Ronen is a registered user.

This article is simply uninformed, poorly researched and frankly, wrong.

First of all - we need to get to 100% clean electricity, and we definitely should not eliminate nuclear generation in CA, unless and until all fossil fuel generation is gone. We shouldn't close Diablo Canyon and doing so is a colossal mistake. I'm with the writer on that.

However, on the Peninsula, most of us get our power from Peninsula Clean Power - which is fast approaching 100% renewable energy. Second, even if the electric grid is not 100% clean yet, it is getting cleaner all the time and as it does, your electrical appliances automatically become cleaner without you having to do anything. Let's not continue to build polluting gas infrastructure that will be with us for 50 years based on the silly statement that our grid is not completely clean TODAY.

Menlo Park should absolutely move to all electric buildings. It makes no sense to get our power and heat from fossil gas when a clean alternative is available. We need climate action now. Climate change is the biggest crisis of our generation and we must step up.

Please stop sharing misinformation and fossil industry talking points.


Posted by MenloVoter.
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Jan 20, 2022 at 8:17 am

MenloVoter. is a registered user.

Ronen:

you and others like you continue to ignore the fact that even if MP is completely electrified it will have next to ZERO effect on global climate change or CO2 levels. This is a global issue. You and those like you are either dreaming and uninformed or virtue signaling.

Do YOU want to pay to upgrade the number of electrical services that will require it to go all electric? Do YOU want to pay the added cost to use electricity instead of gas to heat water, cook or heat homes? Do YOU want to pay the added costs of construction inherent in new construction which will require larger electrical service panels, which by the way, when a transformer change will be required, PG&E is making the customer pay for? Keep in mind you'll be paying for something that will have next to ZERO effect on global warming and CO2 levels.

When YOU are ready to step up and pay all of those costs associated with electrification you can tell me and others how we should heat water, cook and heat our homes.


Posted by Ronen
a resident of Menlo Park: Suburban Park/Lorelei Manor/Flood Park Triangle
on Jan 20, 2022 at 8:33 am

Ronen is a registered user.

As I'm reading the comments, I roll my eyes at those objecting to the electric transition essentially using the argument: you haven't solved 100% of the problem, therefore we shouldn't do anything. Quoting from PCE saying that they haven't made their electricity quite pristine yet, does not refute the fact that their electricity is MUCH cleaner than PG&E. $2 cheaper than PG&E might not be huge, but why on earth would you want to pay MORE for DIRTIER power? Yes, electric power has some limitations too - but did you forget that gas pipes can blow up and kill people or that carbon monoxide from burning gas risks the health of your family? Demanding that solutions be perfect while ignoring shortcomings of the current system is intellectually dishonest.

Climate change is a huge challenge. We will solve it in pieces. One small step at a time. We can't wait for perfection before making progress. If you try to make that argument you are not doing so in good faith or you're sadly uninformed.


Posted by MenloVoter.
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Jan 20, 2022 at 10:23 am

MenloVoter. is a registered user.

Sorry Ronen: I'm not uninformed, quite the opposite. I'm a builder and I know quite well what these things cost. Doing the cost benefit analysis doesn't work for me and many more. Like I said, if you want to pay for it fine. Until then, I'm paying for it and it will cost me a significant amount of money for little to no benefit. And I'll not have it shoved down my throat so you can feel good.


Posted by EPL
a resident of Menlo Park: The Willows
on Jan 20, 2022 at 12:31 pm

EPL is a registered user.

Hi Brian, On this part of your comment: "Knob and Tube electrical systems and electrical panels that would need to be upgraded" -- that is not necessarily the case. It is possible to switch appliances, like water heaters and space heaters, to electricity without having to upgrade the rest of the system up from the old knob and tube. Whether your panel has capacity will depend on the details, but heat pumps use very little extra electricity; in most cases your existing panel should work unless you are already close to the limits of the panel.


Posted by MenloVoter.
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Jan 20, 2022 at 2:31 pm

MenloVoter. is a registered user.

EPL:

most service panels that were put in along with knob and tube wiring generally do not have the capacity to add more electrical draws. In fact, quite often, the service size and number of circuits in the house is totally inadequate by today's codes. That's why, in most cases, a service upgrade is required to add more electrical load.


Posted by Westbrook
a resident of Menlo Park: Allied Arts/Stanford Park
on Jan 20, 2022 at 3:43 pm

Westbrook is a registered user.

Ronen,
I understand your argument that we should do what little we can and not wait for perfection but to disrupt thousands of people's lives converting our gas-powered homes to electric is a fantasy, Even besides the cost, The sheer disruption of contractors in and out of your house. Getting plans drawn, submitting for review, getting comments back, resubmitting, inspections, paying the fees. People need to understand what's involved, it's not a matter of plugging in a new appliance.

In the meantime, China, Russia, and India are building coal-powered plants faster than you can count. Our conversion becomes immeasurable compared to that. I understand it will make you feel good but it is pointless given the small amount of gas that's being used in our homes.
As for safety, there are many more electrical fires than gas pipes that have blown up.

As for gas fumes, my grandmother used her gas stove every day for 87 years most of it without an exhaust fan, No health issues there.
As for cost MV is happy to have you pay for his conversion and that's great, If our tax dollars are expected to pay for it forget it. Also personally, I enjoy cooking with gas and have no intention of changing,


Posted by EPL
a resident of Menlo Park: The Willows
on Jan 20, 2022 at 5:44 pm

EPL is a registered user.

re: MenloVoter, on upgrading an old house --

We have a NextDoor group on Electrification and this topic comes often. It is possible to add a side panel, either behind or in front of the old panel, leave the old panel untouched, with all the old knob and tube, and add the new electrical appliances on the new panel. This is up to code. It is not free but it is not very expensive, and multiple people in our group have upgraded their old houses.

Whether your service is good enough for the additional load will depend but some people have upgraded within a 100 Amp panel, and our house has a 200A, and it is (almost) all electric, including two EV.


Posted by Menlo Voter.
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Jan 20, 2022 at 7:11 pm

Menlo Voter. is a registered user.

EPL:

Perhaps I could have been clearer. If the incoming service size is inadequate it will have to be upsized (most likely in really old homes). Yes, the panel containing the knob and tube fuses (usually not breakers) can be left in place and treated as a subpanel. Separate circuits will have to be run from the new service panel to the new devices. Only place that may not be true is if there is an existing 220 circuit to the stove and a 220 circuit to the dryer and that may vary by jurisdiction as they won't have a ground, they'll have two hots and a neutral with the neutral being used as a ground. The code doesn't allow that any longer. None of this is cheap.

Oh, and I'm only ok with Ronen spending HIS money for my upgrades. I oppose taxes of any kind being spent on such a pointless exercise as this.


Posted by Brian
a resident of Menlo Park: The Willows
on Jan 20, 2022 at 8:25 pm

Brian is a registered user.

EPF,

Menlo Voter beat me to the comment. Most electrical panels are not adequate for the basic needs of people today with all the electronics, adding more appliances to that will require new panels. I like how you jump in to say it is not expensive but fail to give examples of pricing. I would venture to say that replacing a panel is thousands of dollars in parts and electrician services. Adding a sub-panel will get you more breakers but I believe you will still be limited by the capacity of the main panel so anyone close to their limit on electricity to the main panel would need to upgrade that panel before they could add a sub. Also electricians I have talked to have strongly recommended replacing Knob and Tube with Romex before upgrading a panel or adding more load on a system. Maybe this is just safety, maybe it is code definitely it is expensive.

I will go back to the part that no one wants to discuss: PG&E's transmission system can't handle current loads. Between rolling blackouts and the many wild fires caused by electrical transmission lines it just does not make any sense to add load to an already fragile system. When the poser fails at least I can still cook on my gas stove and take a hot shower (once I connect my tankless heater up to a battery source). Oh and I can heat my house with a good old fashioned wood fire in the fireplace. I also don't plan on moving to all electric anytime soon.


Posted by Westbrook
a resident of Menlo Park: Allied Arts/Stanford Park
on Jan 20, 2022 at 8:53 pm

Westbrook is a registered user.

Correct me if I'm wrong MV but what you are saying I think is not only the possibility of upgrading at the pole with along with the hassle of working with pge, plans, separate sets of permits, probably involving the local fire dept. cost of upgrading at the pole? along with upgrading the panel at the house, along with running new wires from the new panel either under the house or through the attic then fishing the new wires up or down the walls whether it be a new ground or in some cases running all new wires from the panel to the appliance, Not a small job, If you have a slab foundation and or a flat roof (Eichler) it can get even more complicated,

Don't forget the permit process and expense on top of paying the electrician,


Posted by MenloVoter.
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Jan 21, 2022 at 7:37 am

MenloVoter. is a registered user.

Westbrook:

Your assessment is correct. And to add one more piece of information, if you need to upsize your service and conductors coming from the pole you will HAVE TO deal with PG&E. They will charge you over $2000 for "engineering". After engineering is done they will tell you what it will cost for them to upgrade the conductors from the pole to your house. That won't be cheap and you better hope your house isn't being fed underground. If it is underground you can plan on having to trench and install new, larger conduit as what is in the ground is most likely too small for PG&E's current standards. That will run you at least $200/foot. And none of that includes the cost of the larger main panel you will need to install.

When you start putting all of the costs together one wonders how anyone could think this is a good idea. There certainly won't be any financial savings or payback. In fact, since electricity costs more than gas your PG&E bill will go up. This is just a stupid idea.


Posted by Not-Jeff
a resident of Hillview Middle School
on Jan 21, 2022 at 1:37 pm

Not-Jeff is a registered user.

I just thought I'd throw in my 2 cents on this topic:

1: Overall, I agree with the first comment in this thread: we need to dual-track the adoption of cleaner energy sources, production, infrastructure and usage.

2: Nuclear power can play a role in our clean-energy adoption, but the nuclear option is more complex than discussed here. Just scratching the surface:

a: Nuclear power plants are grotesquely expensive to build; they are financially non-competitive with many other sources of power generation. One only needs to look at the nuclear power plants being built in Georgia and the Carolinas to understand the financial implications of building nuclear power plants: costs are easily double their projected costs (example: one of the plants being built in the South had a projected cost of 14billion; it's now at 30billion and still not operational). No business in their right mind that wants to stay solvent will build a nuclear power plant...unless taxpayers take all the financial risks.

b: The smaller 'modular' nuclear plants that have been discussed in the news are no panacea: yes, they use 'modular' construction as a means to help mitigate costs, but guess what, the large plants use modular construction yet consistently still see huge overruns.

c: I agree with folks who think it's foolish to shut down Diablo Canyon under current circumstances. Diablo Canyon DOES need to be shut down ASAP (it has similar risks to Fukushima), but only after we backfill the power it provides.

d: decades in, we STILL have no active solution to addressing the nuclear waste generated by nuclear power plants (yes, there are proposals and debates, but nothing that has actually landed and resolved the problem).


Posted by MenloVoter.
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Jan 21, 2022 at 2:26 pm

MenloVoter. is a registered user.

Not-Jeff:

No, we don't have an active solution for dealing with nuclear plant waste, but there is one potential one, recycling. France does it. Nuclear waste from power plants still contain 90% of their energy, that can be harvested. Why don't we?


Posted by EPL
a resident of Menlo Park: The Willows
on Jan 21, 2022 at 3:22 pm

EPL is a registered user.

Brian, MenloVoter and Westbrook

I agree that upgrading The PG&E service can be expensive and painful. Particularly if the service is underground. I’d love to have information on how common is in Menlo Park , or in the general vicinity area, that PG&E does not have 200A already there. In our case we had a 100A panel but the service handled 200A.

I poked around but could not find the info. Anybody knows?


Posted by Menlo Voter.
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Jan 21, 2022 at 6:43 pm

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EPL:

I don't have any data, just years of experience doing remodels in this area. Most homes I worked on that were built before the 60's had less than a 100 amp services. A lot of MP was built before the 60's. Much of it has been remodeled or replaced, but those that haven't generally have inadequate service.

All of this is just noise. The bottom line is the council has been talking about forcing 14,000 households into using all electric. Something that could cost them lots of money and will likely result in higher PG&E bills all to accomplish nothing. The CO2 reduction achieved will be negligible on a world scale. So it's either fantasy or virtue signaling.


Posted by Michael
a resident of Menlo Park: The Willows
on Jan 28, 2022 at 10:31 am

Michael is a registered user.

Good explanation why gas to our houses is an awful idea. Web Link


Posted by MenloVoter.
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Jan 28, 2022 at 11:40 am

MenloVoter. is a registered user.

Michael:

still ignoring electricity is more expensive.