BELLINGHAM, Wash. (AP) — Bellingham has become the third Washington city to require new buildings to use electricity for heat as part of an effort to decrease the city’s greenhouse gas pollution from fossil fuels that propel climate change.
The City Council voted 7-0 Monday to require all new commercial construction and future residential buildings more than three stories to heat water and rooms with electricity instead of natural gas, Cascadia Daily News reported.
The rule, modeled after policies established in Seattle and Shoreline, allows for gas kitchen appliances and fireplaces in those buildings.
Bellingham’s ordinance additionally requires new commercial and large residential buildings to meet stricter construction standards for energy efficiency.
Existing buildings are not affected by the new requirements.
The measure follows work by Bellingham’s elected leaders, city employees and volunteer task force members to develop a Climate Action Plan for the city to be 100% carbon-neutral by 2050, The Bellingham Herald reported.
Puget Sound Energy officials had called on the city to consider a hybrid electrification approach, saying full electrification could strain the electric grid.
Electrical power is expected to get cleaner in Washington as utilities meet mandates to produce coal-free electricity by 2025, greenhouse gas-neutral power (including the use of carbon offsets) by 2030 and fully green power by 2045.
Council members also began talks this week with local labor leaders toward a “just transition” to carbon-neutral energy sources while retaining jobs.