Emission standards, carbon charges and franchise fees all options to manage gas use

Emission standards, carbon charges and franchise fees all options to manage gas use

Craig Breon for Ashland.news

Climate change again occupied the minds of the Ashland City Council and local residents at Tuesday night’s council meeting, leading to unanimous approval for city staff to begin preparing language for three paths forward to advance the transition from natural gas to electricity in home heating and other appliances.

The council chose to move forward on creating emission standards for furnaces and hot water heaters in new development, creating a carbon charge for new development, and exploring an increase in the city’s franchise fee for natural gas, the proceeds from which could be used to incentivize the conversion toward electricity.

Economics and potential exposure to lawsuits drove the council away from moving forward on more aggressive measures. Restaurants and other businesses have opposed restrictions on new natural gas hookups, citing cost concerns. In April 2023, a federal appeals court invalidated the city of Berkeley’s ban on new gas hookups, citing contradictions with federal law.

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