Truckee planners address need for climate change action plan | SierraSun.com

Truckee planners address need for climate change action plan

Josh Staab
jstaab@sierrasun.com

TRUCKEE, Calif. — Over the course of the past nine years, the town of Truckee has been incrementally moving toward a plan that addresses climate change and greenhouse emission action.

Town planners want to move Truckee toward investing further in sustainable energy and measures it can take to reduce emissions caused by tourists and residents — but first, they’re going to need to get the public’s support.

During the Sept. 15 Good Morning Truckee meeting, town staff met with representatives from the Truckee Donner Public Utilty District, Sierra Business Council, Liberty Utilities and FirstElement Fuel to discuss planning and adapting to climate change in Truckee.

Though no specific plan has been created to address climate change and/or Truckee’s carbon footprint, Town Manager Tony Lashbrook likens the effort to drawing a roadmap.

Whatever plan emerges, Lashbrook believes it will need to be a comprehensive outline to address specific activities agencies will undertake to reduce the town’s carbon footprint and emissions.

“I didn’t hear a climate change naysayer in the room,” Lashbrook said in a follow-up interview. “They may have been there, but they didn’t speak up.”

Sparked by the passage of Assembly Bill 32, the California Global Warming Solutions Act of 2006, regional utility and public agencies began making strides toward reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

When it comes to emissions, Steven Poncelet, a conservation manager with TDPUD, believes the two largest producers of greenhouse gases come from the area’s transient population, which includes tourists and area residents, as well as regional electricity production.

They’re also the areas on which town planners and utility officials are focusing the majority of reduction efforts.

In a PowerPoint presentation, Poncelet laid out measures TDPUD has taken to reduce its reliance on fossil fuels by more than 50 percent since 2007, when the district began shifting away from coal toward renewable energy sources.

The shift has resulted in generating approximately $800,000 per year in cap-and-trade revenue through AB32, Poncelet said.

The measures resulted in the district reducing its greenhouse gas emissions by about 57 percent from 2008 through 2012, Poncelet said.

By 2014, the district had increased its renewable portfolio standard — the regulation that requires increased production of energy from renewable energy sources — by about 52 percent.

Poncelet believes the district’s RPS could be fully resourced by the California mandate that requires investor-owned utilities, electric service providers, and community choice aggregators to increase renewable energy procurement from eligible renewable energy resources to 33 percent of total procurement by 2020.

Energy-related carbon dioxide emissions in 2012 were the lowest in the United States since 1994, at 5.3 billion metric tons of CO2. The largest drop came from coal, which is used almost exclusively for electricity generation, according to the most recent U.S. Energy Information Administration statistics.

However, it was transportation, not electricity generation, that produced the largest amount of emissions in California, making up for more than 37 percent of the state’s 459.3 million metric tons of carbon dioxide in 2013, according to California Air Resources Board’s most recent statistics.

The goal for local governments, Lashbrook explained, will be to lead by example through the development and use of facilities and energy use practices.

While there is no strict deadline to develop a strategic plan, he said town managers would continue the information sharing it has already begun through meetings like the Sept. 15 Good Morning Truckee gathering.

“Even though there is no climate action plan right now, there are things going on that are leading edge,” Lashbrook said.