From a BLUE COLLAR past to a GREEN COLLAR future
February 11, 2008
Truckee-Tahoe’s blue collar past may turn to a green collar future if an emerging new economy of environmentalism continues to grow.
Spurred by local activists and state mandates, everything from building to energy production is moving toward a green future ” and the shift is creating a “new workforce” of green jobs, some locals say.
“The creation of something like an Office on Sustainability and Renewable Energy that was supported by all the special districts would have the most impact and is something I will definitely begin lobbying for,” Truckee Climate Action Network’s Beth Ingalls said.
Ingalls, a former town mayor, is credited for creating the recycling coordinator post, a two year-old position within the Town of Truckee, and designing the prolific “Keep Truckee Green” bumper sticker. She is now embarking on a larger campaign, “Keep Truckee Cool,” to encourage Truckee residents to install 1,000 solar roofs by 2013 to lessen fossil fuel consumption.
Another former mayor Richard Anderson said due to Ingalls’ leadership skills she became a “prime mover” in the thrust to establish the recycling campaign within the town government.
“It was Beth’s strong interest and passion to move Truckee and the town to take recycling seriously,” Anderson said.
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The recycling coordinator position is now filled by Nichole Dorr, who has seen a significant jump in residents who recycle through the blue bag curbside recycling program.
Chris Worcester, owner of Truckee-based Solar Wind works, said his business has doubled over the past two years. He said he has jobs from Colfax to Susanville. He said the new solar mandates initiated by Senate Bill 1 will “create a new workforce.”
And while General Manager Michael Holley of Truckee Donner Public Utility District, said his agency may not add jobs internally he sees the possibility of the construction sector adding green collar jobs as a future certainty. The Truckee utility, providing electricity to over 12,000 customers, currently provides an energy mix with a little over eight percent coming from green sources.
The utility is pursuing a goal of 21 percent renewable by 2010, according to utility documents. Holley said that number may increase to 29 percent by the end of this year and jump to 49 percent by 2009, largely because of a geothermal source being brought online.
Ingalls said she came to town government through her position as chair of the Town of Truckee Citizens Waste Management committee, a group formed by the town in response to 1989 “legislation requiring local governments to meet recycling mandates.”
She said during that time she was interested in “recycling and waste management.”
Now on the outside of local government looking in, Ingalls and her relatively new local agency, Truckee Climate Action Network is pushing for a change in the way local and regional energy providers provide energy to consumers.
A new green energy awareness campaign aims at selling bumper stickers emblazoned with the Keep Truckee Cool slogan aimed at raising awareness, to global warming and providing information to residents on how to wade through the thicket of information on solar power.
“I am personally ashamed that our town is powered almost exclusively by coal,” she said. “I want to change this.”
Ingalls plans to initiate the change through awareness campaigns, but also through instigating collaboration and fund raising by working with the very agencies that provide the coal power, she said.
Ingalls will also work with the “Nature Fund at Truckee Tahoe Community Foundation for funding for this project and will also be seeking some matching funds and collaborative support from the Town of Truckee, the utility district and other agencies, as well as renewable energy companies operating locally,” she said.
“I was stoked to read about the Truckee Sanitary District’s plans for a solar system at their offices. That’s what we need from agencies using our tax dollars,” she said. “Leadership and innovation.”