Update: the House approved House Bill 1134 on Feb. 14 on a party-line 45-19 vote. It now moves on to the state Senate.
Whether to use a gas stove or an electric one took center stage in the state House on Monday morning, as lawmakers debated a bill on home warranties.
House Bill 1134 would require home warranty service contracts to offer homeowners the option of replacing gas-powered appliances with electric-powered ones, a move the bill's supporters claim would reduce greenhouse gases but which critics say would financially burden Coloradans.
Under the proposal, the contract must also describe minimum efficiency in performance and, if the retail cost for the electric appliance is more expensive than the gas, the homeowner would be required to pay the difference.
The bill has made for some interesting alliances. Supporting the measure includes an array of environmental groups, as well as Xcel Energy, Colorado's biggest energy provider.
Sponsored by Reps. Junie Joseph, D-Boulder and Cathy Kipp, D-Fort Collins, the measure cleared the House Energy & Environment Committee on Jan. 30 on a party-line 6-3 vote.
Joseph argued the measure will help improve indoor air quality.
While utility companies are already on board, Kipp said home warranty companies have been slow to adopt it.
The controversy around gas stoves flared in January when Richard Trumka, Jr., head of the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, told Bloomberg News his agency was considering a ban on gas stoves.
"Any option is on the table. Products that can’t be made safe can be banned,” Trumka said.
Republicans, including in Congress, seized on Trumka's comments.
God. Guns. Gas stoves.— Rep. Jim Jordan (@Jim_Jordan) January 12, 2023
But Patty Davis, spokesperson for the commission, told The Denver Gazette the agency has not proposed any regulatory action on gas stoves.
And Commission Chair Chair Alexander Hoehn-Saric walked back Trumka's comments two days later, saying that, while the agency is looking at emissions, it has no intention of banning gas stoves nor any proceeding to do so.
A 2022 study from the American Chemical Society said natural gas stoves release methane and that "annual methane emissions from all gas stoves in U.S. homes have a climate impact comparable to the annual carbon dioxide emissions of 500 000 cars." The International Journal of Environmental and Public Health, in a December, 2022 study, said 12.7% of current childhood asthma in the United States "is attributable to gas stove use."
During the Feb. 8 committee hearing, Rep. Kenneth DeGraaf, R-Colorado Springs, pointed out there could be unexpected costs tied to replacing gas stoves.
Joseph acknowledged that swapping out a 110V outlet for a 220V outlet could result in higher costs — more than $2,000 —but that federal tax credits exist that could cover about 30% of that cost.
Christine Brinker with the Southwest Energy Efficiency Project said homeowners would like a cleaner, healthier, more efficient option than what was originally supplied in their homes. Heating and water heating are the largest users of energy in the home, while gas stoves are the largest source of indoor nitrogen oxide pollution in the home, she said.
She called concerns around switching outlets to 220V a "red herring," since it's the homeowner's choice to make those changes.
No one testified against the bill in committee, but House Republicans were ready when HB 1134 came up for debate Monday.
Rep. Gabe Evans, R-Fort Lupton, said the bill picks winners and losers and restricts the ability of homeowners and home warranty owners to choose the appliances best for them and their financial situation.
People should be able to go from gas to electric or vice versa, he said.
Rural Coloradans face a different issue, said Rep. Ty Winter, R-Trinidad, who added that electricity isn't as reliable in some rural parts of the state and that could leave people without heat.
Rep. Richard Holtorf, R-Akron, pointed out that electric bills have skyrocketed, and that consumers should have other options, mentioning liquid propane.
The bill won preliminary approval and will be ready for a final House vote on Tuesday.
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