The city estimates up to 18,000 Seattle homes still use oil heat, and just announced a plan to try to reduce that number. From the announcement just sent:
To help combat the global climate crisis and fulfill a key commitment of Seattle’s 2018 Seattle Climate Strategy, Mayor Jenny Durkan announced today her plan to speed up the conversion of Seattle’s homes that burn oil for heat to cleaner electric heating.
Oil heat is the least efficient, most expensive, and most polluting form of home heating in Seattle. Converting Seattle homes to highly efficient electric heat pumps is another step to help Seattle become carbon neutral by 2050.
Mayor Durkan is transmitting legislation to City Council that if enacted would 1) impose a tax on heating oil starting July 1, 2020 on heating oil providers and 2) a requirement for heating oil tank owners to decommission or upgrade all existing underground oil tanks by 2028. Revenue from the tax will provide rebates and grants for Seattle homeowners to energy efficient electric heat pumps. ..
The tax of $0.24/gallon will fund rebates and grants for nearly 3,000 households to help them make the switch. Low-income homeowners will be fully refunded for the upgrade costs; approximately 1,000 low-income households are estimated to be eligible for a fully funded conversion. …
There are as many as 18,000 oil-heated homes in the City of Seattle. Converting those homes to clean electricity is expected to reduce Seattle’s climate emissions by 433,000 metric tons over 10 years. That is the equivalent of taking nearly 90,000 passenger cars off the road for a year. …
A typical 500-gallon oil tank costs a household $1,700 per year. An electric heat pump is more than twice as efficient as an oil furnace and a conversion from oil would save the average household about $850 every year compared to oil heat systems.
Most of Seattle’s oil heat tanks were installed between the 1920s and 1950s and are now an increasing liability as the steel tanks deteriorate, causing oil to leak and damage soil, property, and potentially ground water.
City of Seattle departments including Office of Sustainability and Environment, Seattle Fire Department and Seattle Department of Construction and Inspections, will be directed to develop the criteria and plan for old oil tanks by July 1, 2020.
In addition to supporting conversion to energy efficient heat pumps, the proposed legislation also supports workforce development for workers in the oil heating industry. A portion of the tax revenue will support workforce training and business planning support for affected heating oil service providers.