Electrification: Increase supply before demand
Honorable Mayor and City Councilmembers:
Electrification is an important climate mitigation initiative. Since Alameda has its own electric utility that has been 100% renewable since 2020, Alameda is in a great position to be a leader.
Given that there are already several trends increasing electrical demand, I think it’s especially important that Alameda focuses on supply initiatives, especially as we continue to have rolling blackouts when demand surges.
Some of the trends that will continue to increase demand:
• Rapidly increasing affordability of electric vehicles.
• Alameda’s Housing Element specifying 5,353 new housing units in the next eight years combined with the requirement they be all electric.
• Corresponding retail structures and city infrastructure for new housing.
• State and federal initiatives, like the Inflation Reduction Act
At this point in time, I suggest it’s more important that we incentivize supply creation. City simplification of the solar permit process is a good first step, but we have a long way to go to take advantage of the abundant sunlight we have in Alameda. We should incentivize home solar as well as moving forward with the Doolittle Solar Facility (“AMP to Go Solar on Mount Trashmore,” Nov. 24, 2020). We should incentivize battery adoption to store more of that power for the challenging 4 to 9 p.m. peak demand time.
Since Alameda’s greenhouse gas emissions from transportation are significantly higher than from homes, increasing home-charging access, including incentivizing electric panel upgrades and car-charging infrastructure for homes and multi-family apartments, should be a priority over other housing electrifying investments.
City incentives for full-home electrifying of existing homes and apartments should not yet be a priority:
• It can cost tens of thousands of dollars per dwelling.
• It can displace renters, especially the most vulnerable.
• Housing greenhouse gas emission is 27% versus 70% for transportation in Alameda.
We should address electricity availability and some of the other lower hanging fruit first.
I urge the council to ask staff for an alternative electrification plan that prioritizes increasing supply, starts with the most cost-effective measures, and doesn’t threaten the housing of our most vulnerable population.