City Council sends electrification ordinance back to committee

The Zoning and Planning Committee recently voted for approval of an ordinance that would require all new construction and major renovations in the city to run on electricity instead of gas, oil or coal.

On Monday night, the City Council sent the matter back to the committee. It seems there is still more to discuss.

The Massachusetts Department of Energy Resources has given Newton tentative permission to join its Ten Communities Program, piloting such electrification ordinances and bylaws.

Councilor R. Lisle Baker, chair of the Zoning and Planning Committee, said the ordinance was ready for a full City Council discussion. But over the weekend, City of Newton Climate and Sustainability Director Ann Berwick and Chief Operating Officer Jonathan Yeo contacted Baker and told him the ordinance wasn’t ready for prime time after all.

Berwick and Yeo had received new information from the state that may change the way the ordinance is interpreted by city officials. They requested additional time and discussion in committee before the ordinance goes to the full Council for a vote.

Baker did not say what Berwick and Yeo wanted to discuss before the full Council vote. But with the electrification ordinance off the docket, Monday’s City Council meeting was adjourned at 8:01 p.m.

“Don’t get used to these short meetings,” Council President Marc Laredo joked as councilors headed for the doors.