To the Editor:
In her recent letter, Meghan Anderson argues that Ellensburg must convert residential and commercial buildings from gas to electrical heating. She is right. The regulations enacting Washington’s Climate Commitment Act (CCA) effectively require that, in 2023, the city reduce its deliveries of gas to 93% of its annual average deliveries each year from 2015 to 2019, then by an additional 7% of that average each year from 2024 to 2030. I’ll call that the “93/7 rule.” Under that rule, in 2026 the city can deliver no more than 72% of the gas it delivers now and by 2030 that shrinks to no more than 49%. Important - those are the minimum reductions the law requires. For reasons inexpressible in 400 words, it could be greater.
Reality check: Envision trying to adequately heat your home or businesses with 25% less gas than you now use, let alone half. The immovable object of our need for heat meets the irresistible force of the CCA’s 93/7 rule and something has to give. Because few of us can make it on 25% less gas without wearing overcoats in living rooms, we can’t just spread the misery. That means the city is going to have to start denying all deliveries of gas to some so that others can have what they need. Since people cannot burn what they cannot get, and since what they cannot get includes hydrogen and methane mixes, what must give is gas furnaces, stoves, and water heaters that we can’t use because we can’t get fuel for them. So, it’s out with gas and in with electricity. The city’s dilemma? How will it choose to whom it can deliver gas and to whom it can’t?
The good news is that the CCA supplies funds that help the city’s customers cover the cost of replacing still operable gas furnaces, along with separate funds that allow us all to reap the benefits of curbing things like the foul air from forest fires that we’ve come to endure every summer. There is much to say about that which cannot be compacted into 400 words. In brief, 93/7 decides the fate of fossil fuels, but it does not tell the city how to manage the transitions it requires or how to plan, apply for, and distribute the other funds that are going to be available. We need to be paying attention right now.