California Contemplates Mandating Heat Pumps


Just when you think California’s energy policies couldn’t get any more ridiculous, the Golden State says “Hold my beer.” City Journal’s Jennifer Hernandez has the details.

In summer, a heat pump works like an air conditioner, using refrigerant to transfer heat outdoors for cooling. In winter, it can run in reverse, moving heat into a home. Activists insist that trading gas furnaces for heat pumps will cut costs and improve health while protecting the climate.

The cost benefits are as yet illusory. In late 2022, Bay Area bureaucrats effectively banned gas heaters, arguing that heat pumps would cost only $8,030 per installation, a figure well below the ranges estimated by their own consultants. Since 2021, heat-pump installations have averaged $18,872 statewide and more than $22,000 in greater San Francisco. Skyrocketing California electricity rates steadily erode potential savings from all-electric heating.

Unsurprisingly, lavish heat-pump subsidies overwhelmingly favor richer households. Since 2021, less than 8 percent of heat pumps have been installed in disadvantaged communities. And according to UCLA researchers, struggling lower-income households could face “tenant displacement” as landlords raise rents to cover heat-pump expenses.

Bear in mind that this is a state where the state of the grid and energy generation are so bad that they are considering using people’s plugged-in electric vehicles as storage batteries. All of these policies are typical of the far Left; they feel that green policies ought to work, so when they don’t, they feel that the proper action is to green harder. It’s a textbook example of cognitive dissonance, and it’s driving California into the ground, faster and faster as the productive people leave for greener pastures in a sort of reverse Gold Rush.

The problem is, the entire “heat pump” initiative is just another Left Coast wild-goose chase. Ms. Hernandez continues:

California’s heat-pump infatuation is another example of a thoughtlessly regressive, not-so-green initiative. The new mandates favor the wealthy, increase housing costs, displace lower-income renters, and force aging households to rely on a heating technology that becomes less effective when needed most. Even worse, they are seeding the state with millions of new leakage sources for powerful greenhouse gases to reach the atmosphere. It is astounding that state climate elites insist on causing such economic, social, health, and climate harm in exchange for minuscule—if any—benefits.

This is business as usual now. Every “Green energy” initiative California has taken favors the wealthy. Every one raises housing costs. Every one reduces the quality of life for Californians. It’s industrial-scale virtue-signaling, and what’s really amazing is that the Californians who are left keep putting the same lunatics in charge of the asylum. (Not all of them; I know quite a few reliable conservatives and libertarians who remain in the Golden State for a variety of reasons.)

This is why single-party rule is a bad idea, especially when that single party is the Democrats.

If one thought that most politicians were capable of learning, it would be worthwhile to point out California as an illustration of the dangers of unchecked rule by a simple majority. California Democrats, once they had a big enough margin, “fortified” their elections system so they never had to worry about upstart Republicans gaining any significant power in the formerly-Golden State again. Now, we see the results. As my grandfather used to say, “You can teach ’em, but you can’t learn ’em.” So California’s government will continue to raise taxes, implement ruinous policies, hammer the low-income folks, and look away from the filth and rampant crime in their cities and the rate at which the middle class is fleeing.

It’s sad, too, because California as a place has a lot going for it: Beautiful scenery including mountains, forests, deserts, and beaches; a salubrious climate, some great farmlands, and several great oceanic ports. I’ve worked in California a lot and I can see the appeal. But one-party rule by liberal Democrats is ruining the state, and this new insistence on less efficient heat pumps is just the latest in a long line of stupid initiatives. Oh, the people who make these policies, by and large, don’t see any of the problems; they have their enclaves behind solid gates minded by security guards. Most folks aren’t so well-protected.

Things in the once-and-former Golden State will likely get worse before they get better.

That’s California for you. You can check out any time you like. But you can never leave.




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