Bill aims for households earning under $80k to be able to install new stove and heat at no cost; would require electrification for all major renovations at DC Housing properties.
Today, Councilmember Charles Allen is re-introducing legislation that would speed up the ability for District residents to switch to clean electric or induction stove and electric heat from fossil-fuel powered appliances. And for households earning less than $80,000, it could be done with no out-of-pocket costs, including purchase and installation.
The bill is co-introduced by Councilmembers Nadeau, Robert White, Frumin, Gray, Pinto, Lewis George, and Parker.
The urgency is two-fold for District residents. First, there is increasing consensus that gas stoves and heat contribute significantly to poor air quality inside of the home and lead to increased respiratory diseases.
Second, natural gas is primarily methane, a fossil fuel which emits carbon when burned. If the District is going to hit its own goals for reducing carbon emissions and mitigate the worst-case scenarios for climate change, completing the switch away from natural gas must happen at the household level very quickly.
This shift is expensive, but thankfully, there is tremendous federal funding headed to District residents specifically to allow more and more homes make the switch if they are ready.
“It is rare to have a moment where making a change like this is the right call on so many fronts: we can ensure that residents can afford to have cleaner air in their homes, lower their household energy bills, and the upgrades to their homes will be much, much better for the environment overall,” said Councilmember Charles Allen, the bill’s author, and chair of the Council’s Committee on Transportation and the Environment. “The bill includes a specific provision that would incorporate electrification for homes that are in our public housing communities as well. As we make this incredibly important transition, I want to be sure all homes have clean air and can save money on their monthly bills. It’s a priority in this legislation.”
Councilmember Allen worked closely with both Sierra Club DC and the Washington Interfaith Network in crafting the bill to ensure it sets aggressive goals with both clean air goals and racial equity in ensuring the bill can benefit low-income households as fast as possible.
Reverend André N. Greene, Pastor of Varick Memorial AME Zion Church & Strategy Team Member of the Washington Interfaith Network, supports the legislation:
"With WIN, many of our parishioners in River Terrace tested their gas stoves and found that they were producing levels of nitrogen dioxide higher than the EPA's outdoor standards for healthy air. That is not acceptable. Every resident in the District deserves to breathe clean air no matter where they live. With this legislation, we are one step closer to a District filled with clean green and healthy homes for all. Too often, I hear of families going another winter with a barely functioning furnace or with heating bills that they cannot pay. My hope is that by taking advantage of free retrofits, those residents can both save on their monthly utility bills and have a healthier, safer, and more comfortable home for their family. We are so proud to move DC beyond gas and towards healthier and more sustainable options.”
“DC has committed to phasing out fossil fuels by 2045, which will require that we stop burning fracked gas that pollutes indoor air in our homes and pollutes the climate. Councilmember Allen’s bill will bring the health, climate, and cost-savings benefits of home electrification to thousands of DC residents,” said Mark Rodeffer of the Sierra Club DC Chapter.
The “Healthy Homes and Residential Electrification Amendment Act of 2023” takes on the urgent task to replace fossil fuel-burning appliances and systems, like water heaters, stoves, and heating systems with appliances that use electricity and do not create unhealthy air within the home while reducing each household’s addition of carbon into the atmosphere.
The bill would sync with significant investments in the federal Inflation Reduction Act passed earlier this year by congress to ensure most households earning less than $80,000 would be able to make the switch at no cost to them, including covering costs for both the new appliance and installation. The bill also seeks to capture IRA funding to create programs to train District residents and small businesses, especially equity impact enterprises, to make installations through this new program. The bill would also add an additional fee during permitting for installation of any new fossil fuel-burning appliances during major renovations to help incentivize more households to go electric. Finally, the bill would prohibit the DC Housing Authority from installing fossil fuel-burning appliances and heating systems when undertaking certain redevelopments of public housing.
Recent studies have confirmed that gas-burning appliances and heating systems contribute not only to climate change but also are tied to negative health outcomes, especially asthma. Within just a few minutes of using a gas-powered stove, a kitchen can reach dangerous levels of contaminants like nitrous dioxide.