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SLO Mayor and Vice Mayor explain why the city's plan to phase out natural gas appliances is on hold

Posted at 11:38 PM, Sep 17, 2019
and last updated 2019-09-18 02:38:36-04

San Luis Obispo was planning to adopt the new clean energy program at Tuesday's council meeting, making the new buildings in the city all electric. However, a letter from attorneys representing the Utilities Workers Union of America changed those plans.

The letter raises concerns over council member's Andy Pease stake in the game because of her architecture firm.

"We provide energy efficiency and modeling services. We provide services all over the state. We provide a wide-variety of services. We provide energy modeling services, so there were some concern that if there's increased work from this ordinance," said Andy Pease, Vice Mayor of San Luis Obispo.

Mayor of San Luis Obispo, Heidi Harmon, says the council doesn't believe there's a connection to Pease and the ordinance.

"It's important for people to understand that the reason this is coming up in this way is that no one on council, no one on staff, sees that nexus," said Harmon.

Pease says she has already found a solution to prevent the idea that there would be a conflict of interest if the ordinance does get passed.

"I've offered that if the ordinance does go forward, that our firm will refrain from doing any of the work, that could possibly be triggered by the ordinance," said Pease.

Harmon says she supports Pease, but the council will take the time to check out the claim.

"Frankly I feel like this is the gas company and the fossil fuel industry at large trying to suggest something that may or may not be accurate," said Harmon.

Harmon says the council has sent a letter to the California Fair Political Practices Commission.

Once they hear back on whether Pease needs to be recused, the city will determine how to move forward with a vote.

Harmon also mentions regardless of the outcome over the conflict of interest, San Luis Obispo is committed to being carbon neutral by 2035.