PG&E, Sierra Business Council to propose Nevada City energy plan |

PG&E, Sierra Business Council to propose Nevada City energy plan

The Sierra Business Council, in paternership with PG&E, is proposing an energy action plan to promoteenergy efficiency. A gas street lights on Broad Street.
John Hart/ | The Union

In an attempt to expand energy efficiency and renewable energy efforts in Nevada City, the Sierra Business Council, in partnership with Pacific Gas & Electric, will present an energy plan to the city’s Planning Commission next week.

“We’ve been working with them to produce an energy action plan to identify and establish objectives in improving the city’s energy use,” City Manager Mark Prestwich said. “The intent is to improve energy use and create more opportunities for efficiency.”

In September 2008, the California Public Utilities Commission adopted the state’s first long-term energy efficiency plan, presenting a road map to achieve maximum energy savings across all major sectors in the state.

The comprehensive plan lays an integrated framework of goals and strategies for saving energy from 2009 to 2020, covering government, utility, and private sector actions.

The CPUC created a Government Partnership Program that allowed them to distribute around $368 million in funds to different utility companies around the state, which would then collaborate with local governments and regional entities to promote the CPUC’s energy efficiency plan.

PG&E was given more than $211 million through the program, and would partner with more than 20 different jurisdictions around the state, through groups like the Sierra Business Council.

“It’s funded directly by ratepayers because there’s a charge on your bill that the CPUC puts on everybody’s bill,” Sierra Business Council Senior Planner Brenda Gillarde said. “So this is a way for money to come back into the community in the form of this plan … It’s a great opportunity for the city to dig a little deeper into how to be more energy-efficient, which saves money.”

In 2010, Nevada City engaged Sierra Business Council, a Truckee-based regional group, to perform a baseline greenhouse gas inventory. The council examined the city’s emissions and energy usage for 2008.

According to Planning Commission Chair Dan Thiem, the council has previously met with members of the planning commission to discuss the energy plan, obtaining feedback from the community and commissioners.

On April 16, the Sierra Business Council will present its final draft energy action plan to commissioners for approval and for recommendation to the City Council.

“I expect to get (from the meeting) some actionable things that our community can do to improve our efficiency of energy use,” said Thiem. “They talked about programs to change light bulbs in downtown businesses, particularly display lights that before were housed in bulbs, and now they’re replaced with LED bulbs and how much that can possibly save in energy … What I’m looking for is an overall strategic approach to energy management.”

Sierra Business Council’s energy action plan focuses on residential, nonresidential and municipal energy use sectors within the city, evaluating energy consumed by buildings, transportation and municipal operations; solid wastes are not addressed.

The plan highlights goals, strategies and implementation techniques to help spur energy efficiency and reduction goals as far as five years from now. Strategies focus on voluntary measures that local residents and businesses can take.

The energy plan boasts a 2020 reduction in electrical energy of 28 percent, and a 10 percent dip in natural gas use that same year, if the city were to implement the plan.

Per the council’s report, from 2005 to 2013, the average home in Nevada City used 462 kilowatt-hours per month, which equates to 5,544 kilowatt-hours per year.

Gillarde said if the energy action plan was implemented, the city would save 2.8 million kilowatts in electricity usage a year, which would equal the energy used by 505 homes annually.

According to the energy report, if implemented, the action plan would save the city more than $3.3 million in electric and gas costs in 2020 alone.

Gillarde said the plan does not require out-of-pocket costs to the city, and would also implement changes in water conservation.

“It takes energy to pump water and treat water,” said Gillarde. “So the more judicious we can be with water usage, the more energy can be saved.”

Sierra Business Council and PG&E officials are scheduled to present their plan to the commission at 1:30 p.m. April 16 at the Nevada City Hall Council Chambers.

Gillarde said the council aims to collect as much public feedback as possible, and has created a brief online survey for residents who cannot attend the meeting. For more information, go to, or to fill out the survey, go to

To contact Staff Writer Ivan Natividad, email or call 530-477-4236.

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