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Sonoma County exceeds emissions goals

By BRETT WILKISON
THE PRESS DEMOCRAT

A four-year effort to reduce the greenhouse gases produced by Sonoma County government, including emissions from buildings and vehicles, has met its overall goal, county staff told supervisors Tuesday.

The 2006 initiative was intended to cut emissions 20 percent below 2000 levels by 2010. The county ended up trimming annual emissions by 9,125 tons, a nearly 30 percent cut from the 2000 total, staff reported.

The gains came mostly from the $22.3 million the county poured recently into renewable power projects and building upgrades.

The investments are projected to cut the county’s yearly energy use by 13 million kilowatt hours — slashing the annual $5 million power bill by a third — and lower annual emissions by more than 6,000 tons.

“We pushed and pushed and pushed,” Supervisor Valerie Brown said of the multi-year effort. “This is the gift that keeps on giving.”

The report did not include the county Water Agency, which also has made multimillion dollar investments in clean energy and has its own emissions goals.

Officials said the report served as a waypoint for climate protection efforts that began in the late 1990s. Those efforts now will be evaluated each year with an eye on 2015, when a more ambitious set of regional emissions goals come due.

Those regional targets call for cutting emissions to 25 percent below 1990 levels. In the county’s case, that is the equivalent of a 25 percent reduction from 2010 levels.

Among participating local governments, including the county’s nine cities, county government appears the closest to achieving those 2015 targets, officials said.

The high water mark came last year. Completed projects included the $9.8 million, 1.4 megawatt fuel cell that now powers the county administrative center, the $4.6 million solar panel installation for the juvenile justice campus off Highway 12, and lighting, heating, cooling and water-system upgrades on more than 20 buildings.

“This is definitely something the board has been proud of,” Chairman Efren Carrillo said. But Tuesday’s report showed efforts lagging in other areas.

Since 2006, the county managed to lower emissions from its vehicle fleet by just 6 percent below 2000 levels. The main reason, officials said, was the county could not afford to overhaul a 900-vehicle fleet in the four-year time span.

Already the county’s 233 hybrid cars and SUVs make it one of the greenest fleets in the nation, according to a 2010 magazine survey.

Tuesday’s addition of a new electric-powered Nissan Leaf, the first of 21 to be purchased by the county this year, along with two electric Ford minivans, all paid for through a $508,000 federal grant, will boost the transition, officials said.

“It’s really hard to get that impact in big bites,” said Dave Head, Sonoma County fleet manager.

Emissions from employee commutes comprise the other area for improvement.

The county met its 2010 target in that category, cutting baseline levels by 23 percent. But because commuters make up the single largest source of county emissions, about 50 percent of the total, much larger cuts will be needed to meet the 2015 regionwide targets, officials said.

Expanded bike and bus use, increased telecommuting and compressed work weeks are planned, officials said.

“It’s a huge challenge,” said Liz Yager, the county’s energy and sustainability manager. “It’s the one that’s dependent on changing behavior.”





7 Responses to “Sonoma County exceeds emissions goals”

  1. OKay says:

    Doesn’t look like people like this…

    not a good sign.
    people are doomed

    Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  2. Dogs Rule says:

    The swindles continue.

    Thumb up 5 Thumb down 1

  3. Peeter Goolis Libtard says:

    Why we are broke….“[It’s a huge challenge,” said Liz Yager, the county’s energy and sustainability manager.]
    Why in the he!! do we need a “energy & sustainability department”? So when they cut the budgets they will trim Library,Police,Fire and Road maintanence,the things the people need. But not cut programs like this that are based on political junk science.These extremists have also banned employees from bringing a plastic bottle of water on the county grounds,I guess they should go sip water out of a puddle like a baboon. Bottom line ITS NOT ABOUT THE ENVIORNMENT its all about CONTROLLING YOU

    Thumb up 15 Thumb down 3

  4. FedUp says:

    “The gains came mostly from the $22.3 million the county poured recently into renewable power projects and building upgrades.”

    $22.3 million bucks down a rat hole. What benefit do local tax payers get for that “investment”? Exactly none which is just infinitesimally less than the impact on the global environment.

    Fix the damn roads!

    Thumb up 20 Thumb down 3

  5. Mike says:

    The Board of Supervisors failed to give credit where credit is due in their self congratulatory note, the Great Recession.

    By 2015 more commuters will be expected to walk to work or ride bicyles. If the county continues in the direction it is going there will be far few jobs in 2015 and far fewer government employees commuting to work for county. That is a good thing.

    It is refreshing to note that our local tax dollars didn’t pay for the new hybrids and electric vehicles the county bought. The taxpayers in the other 49 states and the rest of California bought the vehicles. But wait, we pay federal income taxes too, oh well, so much for a gift horse.

    All of this is just more hot air from a group of county bureacrats and politicans breaking their arms slapping themselves on the back for a job well done while the taxpayers continue to foot the bills for this folly.

    Thumb up 16 Thumb down 1

  6. Chris says:

    It is a mystery why we are having budget problems.

    “The gains came mostly from the $22.3 million the county poured recently into renewable power projects and building upgrades.”

    Thumb up 15 Thumb down 2

  7. Fiscal Conservative says:

    Pat’s on the back for collectivist’s spending money and doing nothing.

    Thank’s for saving the world, even if it was not in peril.

    I think our goal should be to cut County government 10% under the 1960 levels.

    That would solve alot of problems.

    Thumb up 14 Thumb down 4

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