Montgomery County, Maryland, will be the US East Coast’s first county to ban natural gas in new buildings.
Montgomery County will require all new construction to only use electric energy equipment. Montgomery County, which is just north of Washington, DC, has a population of just over 1 million, so this is an impactful decision for the region.
That means specifically that all new buildings in the county will need to go electric for heating, hot water heating, and cooking from the end of 2026. However, income-restricted housing and schools will have until the end of 2027.
The Montgomery County Council backed the gas limits with a 9-0 vote, and the county executive is expected to sign off on Bill 13-22, “Comprehensive Building Decarbonization.”
About half of the county’s emissions come from buildings, so environmental groups welcomed the decision. Mike Tidwell, director of climate change public policy advocate group CCAN Action Fund, said about Bill 13-22 on November 17:
Our safety and health will benefit from a move to all-electric buildings, and we will be doing our part to address climate change.
Unsurprisingly, the natural gas industry isn’t as enthusiastic. E&E News reports:
Representatives from Washington Gas Light Co., which distributes gas to over a million customers in Montgomery County and the Washington area, said the ban focused on electrification “while dismissing other proven opportunities for decarbonization,” like mixing hydrogen into the natural gas system.
“We urge the Council to consider a more holistic approach to decarbonization, one that puts affordability, reliability, resiliency, and security at the forefront,” wrote the company in a July 26 filing to the County Council.
Electrification brings higher upfront costs to developers but lower operating costs in the long run.
Only two West Coast states, California and Washington, have banned the sale of all new natural gas-fired heaters and water heaters by 2030.
To date, no East Coast state has passed a natural gas ban. Massachusetts has a program that allows up to 10 cities to enact a natural gas ban, and New York State is considering one.