LOS ANGELES – A new push to try and move California away from natural gas onto electric is having an impact on restaurants. The gas burners at Pez Cantina in Downtown LA are igniting just before the lunch rush.
Bret Thompson at Pez Cantina in downtown L.A. has been cooking for 22 years, and has been a chef for 15.
“We were raised on using gas on restaurants,” said Thompson. “For example, our grill here this is gas, I don’t know of an electric grill that has an open flame. Open flame gives it such a special flavor.”
For years, natural gas has been considered the cleaner alternative compared to coal-powered electric, but as California moves towards more renewable sources, politicians are looking to build the all-electric cities of the future.
Berkeley has started by prohibiting builders from receiving permits that include gas infrastructure.
“I like to be able to go lower, and it’s an immediate reaction, a little higher like this and with electricity it takes a longer time to get to that point and I just have a lot more control,” said Thompson.
And while for now it mostly applies to new residential buildings, the possibility that he might eventually have to change over to electric makes him wonder, if it will turn off customers that have come to love his dishes.
“It’s like if I was a painter and I have my little paint brush and you’re giving me this massive paintbrush it’s something I’m not used to, I’m not going to be able to perform at the same level that I do now,” said Thompson.
Natural gas is also cheaper than electric.
“Many people are just getting by like a hair, you know the restaurant business is very competitive, our margins are small,” Thompson said.
California is the second largest consumer of natural gas in the country. Seeing their business go up in flames, gas companies are advocating for a balanced and diversified energy portfolios. But environmental activists say, we can’t compromise on our environment.
“I do know at the end of the day what our goal is, I have two sons and I want them to have a clean and beautiful world,” said Thompson.
A beautiful world, as beautiful as the dishes he prepares every day at Pez Cantina. Now with gas, but maybe someday in the distant future, with electric.