Gasping for Gas: The Risks of Relying on Electric Stoves During Blackouts

A chain of storms is hammering Northern California, and as hundreds of thousands have discovered, it’s no fun waking up in the middle of the night without electric power. That means no light, no television, no internet, no microwave oven, no automatic garage door opener, and so forth. But as some discovered, all was not lost. 

Those in homes or apartments with gas stoves could light up the gas range, brew tea or coffee, heat up some soup, and even spread some warmth in the kitchen. Those few emergency comforts will disappear if regulatory zealots have their way. 

Over the past few years, Yahoo News reports, “dozens of cities across the country have banned natural gas hookups in newly constructed buildings.” The new laws focus on the kitchen, where gas emissions are small, but “a proxy for a larger fight over how far efforts to curb at-home natural gas consumption in the name of fighting climate change should go.” The at-home consumption includes gas furnaces, which federal regulators are also targeting. The overall environmental benefits are a matter of debate.

When a storm shuts down power, those with electric stoves could fire up a generator, but that would require the combustion of gasoline or diesel fuel, also the target of climate-change zealots. They favor Teslas and such, but those will not be charging during a blackout. As it might be noted, during a heat wave last summer, the government of California discouraged charging electric cars. As the “rolling blackouts” of recent years confirm, the current grid is not up to the task. 

As these developments show, there are no perfect solutions, only tradeoffs. The campaign to shut down gas furnaces and stoves comes from the regulatory establishment, not the people. Least likely to seek a shut-down of gas stoves are those Californians now using them during blackout emergencies. According to Capitol Public Radio, “after this atmospheric river, meteorologists predict even more storms into the next weekend.”

K. Lloyd Billingsley is a Policy Fellow at the Independent Institute and a columnist at American Greatness.
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