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Many years ago, SPEC, now CPSA, was founded in part to respond to a proposed ban on gas fired pool heaters. Now, 40 years later, the swimming pool and spa industry may be facing another challenge on the same topic.

The California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) just announced a new proceeding to examine various initiatives aimed at de-carbonizing buildings to meet California statues requiring a reduction in greenhouse gases 40% below 1990 levels by 2030, and mandating carbon neutrality by 2045 or sooner.

The Commission started this proceeding to implement SB 1744 passed last session by the California Legislature. Noting that “the electricity and heating fuels used in buildings are responsible for a quarter of California’s GHG emissions and contribute to indoor and outdoor air pollution,” SB 1477 requires the Commission to oversee the development of two new building decarbonization programs, called:

  • Building Initiative for Low Emissions Development (BUILD)
  • Technology and Equipment for Clean Heating (TECH).

In addition, another bill passed in 2018, AB 3232, requires the CEC to assess the potential for reducing GHG emissions from buildings by at least 40% below 1990 levels by 2030.

The combination of these two new statutes encouraged the CPUC to expand the scope of its proceeding to look broadly at ways it can use its authority and incentives to address de-carbonization of buildings, rather than greening California’s energy system by improving energy efficiency and demand management, expanding renewable and low-carbon electricity generation, and reducing emissions from natural gas.

Initially, all large natural gas corporations regulated by the Commission, as well as the large investorowned electric distribution utilities, will be the principle players in this proceeding. However, this rulemaking is intended to be very broad and will look at numerous alternatives, including coordinating changes to building standards under Title 20 and 24, both of which cover swimming pools and spas to some extent. It is expected that this proceeding will take up to 36 months to complete.

It is likely that anything affecting gas heaters for pools and spas would come in the way of requiring utility companies to provide financial incentives for the purchase and installation of more efficient gas heaters, hybrid, or electric heaters pool heaters.

CPSA will be monitoring these proceedings for any adverse effects on the swimming pool and spa industry. We will continue to keep you updated as we learn more. We are here to serve your needs