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Carlsbad seeks to further reduce energy use

CARLSBAD—The city spends about $4.5 million a year to power its multiple facilities, which City Council members hope to change.

“The city has been very aggressive looking at ways to reduce our overall energy footprint,” said City Manager Steve Sarkozy.

On Tuesday, council approved a solar panel project at the Safety Training Facility and funding for hydroelectric and solar power project plans at the Maerkle Reservoir.

The solar panels at the four-acre Safety Training Facility on Orion Street will cost $450,000 to install.

The energy system will pay for itself in about nine and a half years, Carlsbad Municipal Property Manager Joe Garuba told the council.

The conduits for solar were installed in the building when it was built in 2010, which will speed up the solar power installation.

Garuba said the safety center’s heating, ventilating, and air conditioning system consumes a lot of energy and operates during peak hours of the day, because of the shooting range, which increases the bill.

The city also approved an appropriation of $200,000 to go towards planning the Maerkle Hydroelectric farm.

The Carlsbad Municipal Water District owns the Maerkle Reservoir and the city would need to negotiate terms of use.

Instead of putting multiple stand-alone solar panels throughout the city, Senior Manager of Engineering at the Center for Sustainable Energy Jeremy Del Real said it’d be more cost efficient to put one big panel system at the reservoir.

It would cost about $9.35 million and would pay for itself in nearly 11 years, with current energy rates.

The systems generally last more than 30 years but staff used 25 years, when calculating whether or not the solar panels are worth installing.

“Right now, everything seems to be moving in the right direction,” Garuba said of the current technology and rate structure.

The San Diego Association of Governments, or SANDAG, also presented their findings of an energy audit.

Allison Wood, Associate Regional Energy and Climate Planner at SANDAG, said the city serves as a positive example for its sustainability efforts.

The transportation fleet is made up of 15 percent hybrid vehicles and staff has been encouraged to take part in SANDAG’s iCommute program, which encourages alternative methods of transportation to reduce carbon emissions.

The city also recently launched a Walk and Bike Carlsbad campaign to educate residents about safe biking and walking routes.

The campaign encourages residents to leave their car at home for short trips, to further reduce carbon emissions.

Wood also commended Carlsbad for Alga Norte Park’s energy, which uses solar panels for power.

The solar panels at Maerkle are still in the planning stage but Garuba is hopeful.

“We think over the next several years we’ll be able to reduce overall consumption by 15 percent,” Garuba said.