Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan wants to speed up the transition of Seattle homes from burning oil to using electric heat, to “help combat the global climate crisis and fulfill a key commitment of Seattle’s 2018 Seattle Climate Strategy,” her office said Aug. 6.
Durkan plans to send legislation to the City Council mandating that the roughly 18,000 homes left in the city with oil heaters make the switch to electric by 2028, according to a release.
If enacted, the legislation would put a 24 cent per gallon tax on heating oil starting July 1, 2020, and would require heating oil tank owners to decommission or upgrade all existing underground oil tanks by 2028.
Revenue from the tax would pay for rebates and grants to help nearly 3,000 Seattle homeowners make the switch. Low-income homeowners, expected to number around 1,000, would be fully reimbursed for the upgrade costs.
“Moving faster to convert Seattle’s homes off of dirty fossil fuels is good for our climate, our economy, and our children’s future,” Durkan said in the release. “Since I took office, Seattle has continued our work as a leader in fighting climate change and addressing environmental inequities.
“By investing in more housing near transit, advancing legislation to create more green buildings, and studying congestion pricing, we continue to work to create a greener and more just future.”
Converting oil-heated homes to electric heating is expected to reduce the city’s climate emissions by 433,000 metric tons over 10 years, which is equivalent to removing nearly 90,000 passenger cars from the road for a year, the release said.
The proposed legislation also directs some of the tax revenue to retraining workers and providing business planning for heating-oil service providers.
City departments, including the Office of Sustainability and Environment, Seattle Fire Department, and Seattle Department of Construction and Inspections, will be tasked with developing the criteria for the mandated conversion.