Del Mar to consider increased electric standards for new construction

Del Mar City Hall
(Jon Clark)

The city of Del Mar could become the latest city to adopt Reach Codes that have electrification requirements for new construction and major remodels.

The new requirements are known as Reach Codes because they reach beyond the minimum state standards. The specifics of a potential set of Del Mar Reach Codes, including costs, are to be determined before council members consider any draft ordinances.

“Even if climate is not your first concern, electric buildings are cheaper to build, they’re more energy efficient, healthier and safer,” Ann Feeney, vice chair of the city’s Sustainability Advisory Committee, said in a presentation to council members on April 18.

Feeney mentioned the city’s goals to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, including through its membership in the Clean Energy Alliance.

“Now we need to actively move toward electrification,” she said.

Wildfires, sea level rise and other environmental factors have been driving cities to adopt Reach Codes. Fifty-four California cities have adopted them so far, according to a list compiled by the Sierra Club. The latest ones include Solana Beach, Encinitas and Santa Barbara.

The Sustainability Advisory Committee recommended that Del Mar use the Encinitas ordinance as a model.

Public speakers in support of Reach Codes included Joe Gabaldon, a public affairs manager for San Diego Gas & Electric.

“Accelerated electrification and embracing technology such as clean hydrogen will be necessary to achieve the region’s GHG reduction goals while ensuring reliability of the electric grid,” he said. “Accomplishing this will require increased collaboration among all cities in the region and the county.”

The potential Reach Codes in Del Mar started with a vote in 2020 by the Sustainability Advisory Committee to recommend that the City Council ban natural gas hookups in all new construction. Council consideration of the Reach Codes was postponed due to the COVID-10 pandemic, according to a city staff report.

Speakers also mentioned the health risks of burning methane indoors as another reason to adopt increased electric power standards.

“Methane is a highly potent greenhouse gas and a dangerous indoor air pollutant, destroying our climate and harming families by worsening asthma and other cardiovascular disorders,” said Serena Pelka, a policy advocate for the Climate Action Campaign. “Del Mar must do everything in its power to protect our families, climate and public health from the expansion of dangerous fossil fuel infrastructure.”