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Natural gas restrictions could affect 800,000 households

February 19, 2024

The Senate is poised to approve new natural gas restrictions at any time. HB 1589 could affect more than 800,000 households in six counties in Washington receiving natural gas service from Puget Sound Energy (PSE).

While the bill continues to change, the bill as it stands allows PSE to choose when it’s no longer financially beneficial to provide natural gas service to new and existing customers and force customers to use a natural gas alternative.

This bill could mean an increase of up to $206/month above current electrical and natural gas rates for homeowners today.

“The rate increases from this bill would be financially devastating to working families, especially those on fixed incomes,” said Greg Lane, Executive Vice President of the Building Industry Association of Washington (BIAW). “Many would be forced to choose between paying for heat or paying for groceries.”


HB 1589 also burdens homeowners who rely on natural gas stoves, fireplaces, dryers, hot water heaters and furnaces with costly upgrades to all-electric appliances – not to mention the added costs of upgrading the home’s electrical capacity to accommodate the extra load.


Replacing natural gas appliances

If HB 1589 passes and PSE stops serving natural gas, homeowners with natural gas will need to:

  • Remove all their natural gas appliances;
  • Rewire the home and potentially the neighborhood if they’re all on natural gas;
  • Purchase all-electric replacement appliances; and
  • Dispose of the now-useless gas appliance.

BIAW estimates the following associated costs (details and sources):

    • $1,570.44 for an induction stove to replace natural gas stoves for cooking.
    • $2,165.07 to replace a natural gas water heater.
    • $7,800 on average to convert from a gas furnace to a heat pump, including tax credits and/or rebates.
    • $1,703.74 to replace a gas fireplace with an electric one. In most cases, you can’t convert a gas fireplace to woodburning. Electric fireplaces will be dark and useless if the power goes out.

Rewiring the home

Once people replace all their appliances, they need to ensure the home can accommodate the added electrical load. That includes:

  • $2,890.44 for new electrical panels: To bear the new load, consumers will need a panel upgrade or additional panel.
  • $10,000 to get the right size transmission wires from the street to the house in trenching or though a pole to the house.
  • $3,492 to repave roads after trenching wires. Improving the transmission wires to homes served by natural gas will require digging up roads and repaving.
  • $1,575 to rewire the neighborhood.
  • New transformers. All houses upgrading panels will require a new transformer in the area, if builders can even get a transformer with massive supply chain issues right now. That’s a $5,297.25 per house cost.
  • Drywall repair or replacement: Once the homeowners have enough power connected to their house, they need to connect it to the right places in the house. That cost is $4,978, including demolition, drywall repair or replacement and painting.

“Washington homeowners need energy choice as well as energy security,” he said. “This bill undermines important consumer protections, forcing natural gas customers to pay as much as $40,000 or more if the utility chooses not to continue serving them.”


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