Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) about Building Decarbonization

Updated: 1/17/23

How does building decarbonization help us reach our climate goals?

With AMP’s 100% clean energy, we can reduce greenhouse gas emissions and improve the quality of living by transitioning to all-electric buildings. The use of gas appliances in buildings for water heating, cooking, space heating and clothes drying accounts for 27% of emissions in the City. By switching to energy efficient, all electric buildings, we can eliminate 27% of citywide emissions. 

What does 100% clean energy mean and where is the electricity coming from?

AMP sources its electricity from a mix of clean energy sources such as geothermal, hydroelectric, wind and landfill gas. These sources of energy are renewable and has little to no carbon emissions.

Learn more about AMP’s energy mix from the Power Content Label

I thought that natural gas is clean and safe, why is the City switching to electric?

Natural gas is cleaner and safer compared to burning coal and petroleum, which produces more air pollutants and emissions than natural gas. However, AMP now provides 100% clean energy from a variety of sources including wind, geothermal, biomass, and hydroelectric that are renewable and have little to no carbon emissions. Natural gas on the other hand, still emits pollutants such as methane, which is 86 times stronger than carbon dioxide as a greenhouse gas and is harmful to our health. 

What is the difference between building decarbonization and building electrification?

Oftentimes, these two terms are used interchangeably and do often mean the same thing. Building decarbonization focuses on the carbon free aspect of an all-electric building running on clean electric energy, while building electrification focuses on the transition away from gas appliances in the buildings to all-electric buildings.

What are the benefits of building decarbonization in addition to reducing greenhouse gas emissions?

Health: Gas appliances emit indoor pollutants and increase risk of respiratory illness, cardiovascular disease, and other long-term illness. Children living in homes with gas stoves are 42% more likely to develop asthma. Sealing building envelops helps maintain the building at desired temperatures with less energy use, increasing comfort.

Safety & Resilience: Removing gas infrastructure reduces the risk of fires in the event of an earthquake. Electrical service is also expected to return faster than gas service post disaster. Induction cooktops reduce burn risk, and many automatically turn off when not in use, eliminating a leading cause of house fires.

I just bought a new gas stove/ water heater/ furnace/ clothes dryer, does this Plan require me to replaced it by a certain date?

No, the Equitable Building Decarbonization Plan includes recommendations for policies and programs that will help transition to electric appliances, but does not propose removing existing appliances that have not reached the end of their useful life or are not part of another permitted renovation project. Each of the proposed policies and programs in the Plan will require research, evaluation and include opportunities for public comment and participation throughout their development, as well as City Council and/or Public Utility Board approval for implementation.

What are the electric appliances that can replace my existing natural gas-powered appliances?

  • Induction cooktop/stove can replace a gas cooktop/stove
  • Heat pump water heater replaces traditional gas water heater tanks.
  • Heat pump heating and cooling replaces gas furnace and provides air conditioning.
  • Electric clothes dryers or combination washer and dryers can replace gas clothes dryers.

Learn more about these electric alternatives on Sustainable Home: Building Electrification

What is a heat pump?

Heat pump technology provides an efficient alternative to electric coil heating or gas heating. It uses electricity to move heat between the air, water and ground rather than generating heat. One heat pump appliance that you are already familiar with is your refrigerator. It moves heat outside your refrigerator so that the inside is cold for your food. Likewise, in space heating and cooling and water heating, heat pumps transfer heat from one place to another.

Is an all-electric home less resilient in public safety power shut off (PSPS) events or rolling blackouts

Alameda has very few blackouts. Most unplanned outages in Alameda are due to birds, squirrels and mylar balloons and occasionally, equipment failures and are re-energized relatively quickly, day or night. AMP has not experienced any Public Safety Power Shutoff events associated with wildfires and does not expect to due to its two redundant power feeds. Occasionally, statewide power supplies can become constrained during hot Summer days when demand is high. During these times, per California law, all utilities must participate in rotation outages, lasting up to one hour each, to avoid a widespread power grid failure. AMP had one 60-minute rotating outage in August of 2020 and one in September 2022. The State is working to reduce the occurrence and extent of these outages with smart grid technologies and development of new renewable power supply.

Does the City have, or plan to have, a list of available electricians/ contractors who can help me with energy efficiency and converting to all electric?

No, there are other organizations that are developing and maintaining contractors lists. You can find them at and


Are induction stoves and electric heat pump appliances such as dryers, water heaters and furnaces readily available in the Bay Area? Who carries them in the local area?

Yes, many of these appliances are already on the market and available at Home Depot or Lowes. More will be coming in the near future.

Will electrification save money on my energy bills?

Electrification will most likely result in higher electric bills and lower gas bills. Overall, cost effectiveness studies conducted for Alameda show that in 2022, with full home electrification, average utility bills in Alameda may increase slightly in the early years. However, with gas rates increasing much faster than electric rates, customers are projected to save money overall over a 30-year period. Additional utility savings can be realized through weather and energy efficiency measures and the additional of solar panels. Heat pump water heaters, heat pump space heaters/coolers and induction stoves have higher efficiency ratings than similar gas-fired appliances and AMP’s rates are approximately 36% lower on average PG&E rates. Much of the upfront costs of these installations can be covered with already available rebates and incentives from AMP, BayREN and other state and local programs.

My house is really old. Will I need a panel upgrade to go all-electric?

In many cases a standard 100 Amp electric panel has sufficient capacity to power an all-electric home with an EV charger. To reduce demand on the panel, owners can choose energy efficient and heat pump appliances, insulate and air-seal the home, use circuit sharing plugs and shared circuit breakers, and analyze peak demand to see if you are close to the capacity of your panel. Learn more from Redwood Energy’s Zero Emissions All-Electric Retrofit Guide.

When a 200 Amp panel is needed or preferred, rebates and tax credits are available to support the cost. AMP provides a $2,500 rebate to upgrade an electric panel when also electrifying one appliance. Panel upgrades are not needed until such time that the demand exceeds capacity of the panel. Any potential requirement for upgrades of certain appliances in the buildings would definitely need to include exception for buildings where upgrades are technically or practically infeasible.

Does AMP have the capacity to meet future demands considering electrification and future population growth?

Yes. Each year AMP prepares a forecast of the peak demand and energy requirements (load forecast) for the next 10 years. The load forecasts include assumptions about future population growth as well as electric vehicle and building electrification and energy efficiency upgrades. AMP has sufficient supplies for the near term and actively purchases additional supplies to meet long term growth.  For example, AMP staff will be presenting a new geothermal contract to the PUB in March 2023. Alameda has very few power outages and has a very reliable electric grid and restores power very quickly whenever there is a power disruption. There are occasionally power interruptions that are out of AMP’s control. Public Safety Power Shutoffs (PSPS) as a result of wildfire are highly unlikely to occur in Alameda and rotating outages which can occur on very hot days are typically of very short duration, less than one hour.


Are other cities pursuing building decarbonization goals?

Yes, building decarbonization is a central strategy of many cities' climate action plans. Many jurisdictions  in California and across the country have adopted zero emission building ordinances similar to Alameda's all-electric new construction reach code. Some cities also require certain electrification and/or energy efficiency measures when undertaking remodels or when equipment needs to be replaced. Go here to view of current list of cities with ordinances.