Why Ninth Circuit ruling on electrification in Calif. could impact plans in N.J.

Fuel Merchants’ DeGesero: N.J. elected officials should look to federal court decision before considering new energy policies

About that push toward electrification in the state … it may not legal. At least, that’s what a U.S. Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals decision issued a week ago seemed to indicate.

In the matter of California Restaurant Assn. v City of Berkeley, the Ninth Circuit struck down a Berkeley, California, building code, which prohibited the installation of natural gas piping in new construction.

The court ruled that the Energy Policy & Conservation Act’s preemption of state’s and localities’ ability to regulate energy use in covered products extended to Berkeley’s ban on installing gas piping in new buildings.

What does all this mean?

Eric DeGesero. (File photo)

Eric DeGesero, the executive vice president of the Fuel Merchants Association of New Jersey and New Jersey Propane Gas Association, said it should mean that elected officials in the state should do their legal homework before acting.

“Before considering any legislation that would mandate statewide building electrification, such as Senate Bill 3672, New Jersey lawmakers should pay close attention to the recent court decision from the U.S. Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals in California,” DeGesero said.

“Not only is mandated building electrification outrageously expensive for New Jersey businesses, homeowners and renters, the Ninth Circuit has ruled states and localities are preempted under federal law from issuing such mandates.”

DeGesero said this is not a clear-cut case.

“While the form of the prohibited activity in Senate Bill 3672 is potentially distinguishable from the activity stricken in the Berkeley ordinance, what is not distinguishable is Senate Bill 3672’s objective in mandating ‘beneficial building electrification,’” he said. “The definition of ‘beneficial electrification’ in Senate Bill 3672 is ‘a change in end-use equipment from a nonelectric type to an efficient electric type for any building end use including water heating, space heating.’”