Clean Heating Bills Near the Finish Line

Aug. 29, 2018, Update: SB 1477 has now passed the Assembly floor.  Aug. 21, 2018, Update: AB 3232 has now passed the Senate floor. 

Two bills to reduce carbon emissions in California’s buildings—currently responsible for 25 percent of the state’s greenhouse gas emissions—are poised to deliver the next generation of clean, energy efficient homes and empower Californians to reduce energy costs, improve air quality, and cut climate pollution.

Senate Bill 1477 and Assembly Bill 3232 both passed through Appropriations committees last week, supported by a diverse group of business, building, health, environmental, and affordable housing leaders. Each bill awaits a floor vote, possibly as early as this week, before heading to Governor Brown’s desk for signatures to make them law.

  • AB 3232, by Assemblymember Laura Friedman, (D-Glendale) requires the California Energy Commission (CEC) to assess the potential for the state to reduce emissions from buildings 40 percent from 1990 levels by 2030, including through efficient electrification, energy efficiency, and renewable gas. This is in line with the state’s carbon-cutting goal for the entire economy as established by Senate Bill 32. The CEC analysis will provide critical information for future state policy in California’s building sector, and help lay out a cost-effective pathway to healthier buildings and a safer climate for all Californians.
  • SB 1477, by Senator Henry Stern (D-Canoga Park), tackles two of California’s greatest problems, climate change and affordable housing, by jumpstarting the market for clean and energy efficient heating technologies. As Stephanie Wang, policy director for the California Housing Partnership Corporation, pointed out last week, “All Californians deserve to live in safe, healthy homes that they can afford. SB 1477 will help deliver the next generation of clean, low-emission homes that lower energy costs and improve public health and indoor air quality, all while reducing building emissions.”

A majority of Californians support innovative ways to reduce climate and air pollution from homes and buildings. SB 1477 would require the California Public Utilities Commission to allocate $50 million a year from cap-and-trade revenue to support two programs:

  • BUILD (Building Initiative for Low-Emissions Development): Provides incentives that tap into the ingenuity of California’s builders to find innovative and low-cost ways to “build clean from the start” and gain market experience to make these technologies common practice in new construction.
  • TECH (Technology and Equipment for Clean Heating): Spurs market development for low-emissions space and water heating equipment through upstream incentives, customer education, and contractor training.

In much the same way that the California Solar Initiative kickstarted the growth of solar in the state, SB 1477 offers incentives for a range of technologies that work together to reduce climate pollution, including high-efficiency heat pumps, solar thermal, energy efficiency, battery storage, and other advanced technologies.

The bill taps into the ingenuity of California’s builders to find innovative and low-cost ways to construct homes that emit almost zero climate pollution, and gain the market experience to make these technologies common practice in new construction. SB 1477 is designed to reduce upfront costs and accessibility to these technologies with targeted incentives, 30 percent of which will be dedicated to low-income housing, ensuring that all Californians benefit from lower utility bills and reduced pollution.

AB 3232 and SB 1477 will support access to more climate-friendly technologies in homes and buildings. We hope both bills will quickly make their way to Governor Brown for his signature. Each will help California make more progress toward our climate and clean energy goals—and are needed to address the emissions from our buildings.

Info sheet on SB 1477 available here.

About the Authors

Merrian Borgeson

Senior Scientist, Climate & Clean Energy Program

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