WASHINGTON — The DC Council will get a first look at a bill that would help some families replace gas appliances in their homes.
For the past couple of months, Rosa Lee has inspected gas lines and the indoor air of homes in her River Terrace neighborhood with handheld meters while, at the same time, trying convince her neighbors to consider switching from gas stoves and heaters to electric appliances.
"I grew up on gas. I remember in my home when we went from a woodstove to a gas stove," said Lee. "I would swear by gas because I thought gas was it."
But then Lee says through her church she became involved with the Washington Interfaith Network and did more "reading" and "research" on the subject.
"I know that gas is not healthy," she said.
Lee is now part of a coalition of activists pushing D.C. to "get off gas." They say the switch is needed to fight climate change and for the quality of air inside homes - citing studies that show kids in households with gas are more likely to develop asthma and other issues.
Lee worries her neighborhood could be late to make the change to electric.
"Clearly people could get left out," she said. "I mean, if you don't have money and you don't have income, these things to transition over they cost."
"When I talk to realtors all day long they say that's where the future is," said D.C. Councilmember Charles Allen. "Twenty years from now you're going to be looking at houses that are largely electrified," he said.
Monday night, Councilmember Allen joined the coalition in Rosa's River Terrace neighborhood in Southeast to rally support for a bill that would help 30,000 low income households pay to retrofit their homes and swap out gas appliances for electric alternatives.
Allen says it's wealthier households that are most likely to benefit from federal incentives to switch to electric through tax breaks and rebates.
"Who gets left behind?" he asked. "Low income households, working families and we know that predominately in DC, as are black and brown families."
Tuesday, the DC Council will hold a hearing on the Healthy Homes bill. A final vote could come later this summer.