Chicago Mayor Johnson targets end to natural gas in new homes, buildings

Sarah Schulte Image
Wednesday, January 24, 2024
Mayor Johnson targets end to natural gas in new homes, buildings
Is natural gas renewable? Chicago Mayor Brandon Johnson is pushing a plan that would end natural gas hookups in new buildings and homes.

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Gas or electric?

In Chicago's future, there may not be a choice. In an effort for a cleaner environment, Mayor Brandon Johnson and 15 city council members are introducing an ordinance that would require new buildings and homes to use electric over natural gas.

"We are seeking indoor emissions standards that would effectively eliminate the use of fossil fuels in newly constructed buildings in Chicago," said 49th Ward Alderwoman Maria Hadden.

The Clean and Affordable Building's Ordinance will be introduced on Wednesday, and while it only applies to new construction, the Johnson administration said this is just the first step in making changes for all of Chicago.

"We must design better outcomes that work for every building type and every neighborhood in Chicago," said Dept. of Environment Commissioner Angela Tovar.

But 36th Ward Alderman Gilbert Villegas says, not so fast. He is introducing a resolution that calls for a study to assess the financial impact of replacing natural gas with electric, especially if the ordinance eventually expands to include all Chicago households and buildings.

"I'm concerned about the senior that is going to have retrofit at the cost of $25,000 per household," Villegas said.

SEE ALSO: Natural gas smell reported in northern, western suburbs believed to be coming from Iowa

Villegas said the ordinance does not include subsidies to transition, and he is also concerned about whether ComEd can handle the extra electric load.

Villegas' resolution is supported by unions. On top of the list is Gas Workers Union Local 18077.

"There are over a thousand new construction properties built in city of Chicago every year. That would be a thousand customers that People's Gas would lose," said Sean Gaurige with Gas Workers Union Local 18007.

If the ordinance makes it through committee and full city council, it will likely be another year before it takes effect. Unions plan to fight it every step of the way.