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Carlsbad looking to lay out energy saving road map

CARLSBAD — The City Council received an update on the Climate Action Plan, its progress and future plans.

Michael Grim, the Climate Action Plan (CAP) administrator for the city, said staff conducted a cost analysis with officials at the University of San Diego, met with city departments participating in the CAP and developed costs, which were provided in February and included in Fiscal Year 2016-17 budget.

“The first year or two of cap implementation is fully budgeted,” Grim said. “One important aspect of the Climate Action Plan is that it streamlines project review.”

In 2010, the city adopted the Community Vision, which focuses on healthy lifestyles, walking, biking, public transit, sustainability and more.

Also, the city engaged in 2006 pilot study with the San Diego Regional Office and San Diego Area of Governments (SANDAG) to evaluate energy efficiency in numerous buildings.

Recommendations included changing out streetlights, replacing building lighting and more using the SANDAG Energy Road Map.

As for solar power, two facilities — at Alga Norte and the Safety Training Center — have panels to energize them.

The city’s efforts have also included sustainability, an improved traffic management center, city fleet conversion to hybrids, trail system, bicycle and pedestrian lanes, water conservation, drought resistant, recycled water and synthetic turf installation.

The CAP administration, Grim, and his interdepartmental team will implement the plan using the CEQA checklist, regional collaboration and an implementation plan.

The city and its consultant will develop sample ordinances among other measures such as monitoring and other greenhouse gas contributors not in the plan.

“Probably in September next year, we will present the 2016-17 annual report … and let you know how we’re doing,” Grim told the council.

The CAP was adopted in Sept. 2015 and city or private projects must comply with the plan to avoid greenhouse gas evaluations, which are costly, Grim said. The city of San Diego is the only other municipality that uses the same process.

It calls for more efficient buildings, which includes increasing the codes or an audit before major renovations. The city also wants to incorporate photovoltaic systems, which use solar power, on new construction.

“A lot of people are getting PV systems,” he said. “The uptake in that will probably even exceed what our ordinances would anticipate.”

As for transportation demand management, the goal is to get people away from single-occupancy vehicles as a mode shift. Large component is to get electric, or zero emission, vehicles and provide charging stations throughout the city.

“It’s trying to reduce the number of people holding on to a steering wheel,” he said. “Something as simple as having bike racks and showers and lockers at your facility so people feel comfortable biking instead of driving. There are all kinds of things you can put into transportation demand programs.”

The city recently purchased 11 hybrid vehicles and entered into an agreement with NRG EV Go to install, at no cost, EV charging stations at Stagecoach Park and the State Street parking lot.

In addition, city buildings are installing LED lights and incorporating solar power and EV stations at new facilities including the new Pine Park Community Center.

“We are a little bit further than other cities,” Grim said. “A lot of other cities haven’t developed a Climate Action Plan.”

An example by Councilman Keith Blackburn questioned Grim on residential solar power and if Community Choice Energy may be a better option long term since SDG&E currently does not buy back excess power.

Grim avoided a yes or no response and said the California Public Utilities Commission sets the rules for entities such as SDG&E.

SDG&E recently went through a rule making process, which Grim referred to as “net metering 2.0,” and changed the rules.

CCE is new and it is unknown, although buyback of solar energy is a possibility. Storing power is also an option, instead of giving it back to the grid, Grim said.

“We don’t know how much interaction they are going to be having with the California Public Utilities Commission, so that is one of the great unknowns and risks,” he said. “As it is now … you could decide to incentivize larger solar by saying to people build beyond your capacity. Energy storage is getting much more reliable and affordable.”