Debbie Gibbs: Nevada County takes energy-wise action
Benjamin Franklin famously said, “A penny saved is a penny earned,” and you could add that investment in efficiency actions that save money also give you tax-free cash you can use for other important purposes.
Additionally, saving money through energy efficiency also reduces pollution and greenhouse gas emissions. Energy efficiency is simply a winning economic and environmental combination.
Currently, all four Nevada County jurisdictions — Nevada City, Grass Valley, Truckee and the county — are saving money (and your tax dollars) through a variety of climate and energy solutions. Nevada City, Grass Valley, and the County adopted Energy Action Plans (EAP’s), respectively, that identify actions and targets over a multi-year time frame. Efficiency is accomplished by retrofitting buildings to conserve energy use, or by installing updated equipment, or additions like solar panels to save on energy expenses.
At the forefront, Nevada City has gone a step further and committed to 100% renewable electricity by 2030 and 100% renewable energy by 2050. And recently the city adopted the PG&E Energy Efficient Retrofit Project and On-Bill Financing Loan Agreement that the City estimates will save over $230,000 over 10 years.
Grass Valley’s new Department of Motor Vehicles was designed as a zero net energy building that furnishes its own power needs through an efficient building envelope and solar system. This is the second of its kind in California.
Finally, the county has attracted much attention with its large solar farm off of Highway 49 that provides electricity to the Rood Center, along with its elevated panels in the Center’s parking lot that also offer shelter from rain and sun.
Around 5% of all county energy use is municipal, while 36% is for residential and the balance is business and other non-residential. Municipalities have largely moved ahead to save funds, and now many residences, businesses, schools and non-profits need support to achieve similar savings.
An outstanding business example for the future is the BriarPatch Food Co-op in Grass Valley, the location of the Electric Vehicle 220 and 440 fast-charge stations. Additionally, BriarPatch is also the first LEED Certified business in the County recognized for its application of energy efficient and sustainable building practices.
To assist and promote their energy goals, Nevada City, Grass Valley, and the County, with help from the Sierra Business Council, have organized Energy Action Plan community Working Groups to support, build capacity, and provide technical assistance to meet desired energy goals. The groups are composed of members from non-profits, environmental organizations, local businesses, and technical experts who are committed to an energy-wise community.
In a ground-breaking move, the Nevada City Working Group is helping Nevada City to participate in a bid proposal to install a 3+MW solar farm on a portion of the old Nevada City airport property. Once operational, this installation could furnish enough power for the majority of residential electric needs in Nevada City.
While the immediate objective of all three of the Energy Action Plans is efficiency, the right folks are in the room to investigate other directions for local energy resilience. The recent electric outages make very clear the vulnerability of our grid and the need to modernize and improve operations. All told, the community has a variety of opportunities to help shape decisions for a resilient energy future.
For more information on the Energy Action Plans and Working Groups, please contact Justine Quealy and the Climate & Energy team at the Sierra Business Council at firstname.lastname@example.org and 530-562-4988.
Debbie Gibbs is a member of Nevada County Climate Action Now.
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