Town of Truckee receives Silver Beacon Award

Beauty & Beyond: The Town of Truckee shines amid the Sierra after an early December dusting of snow. The town recently received a Silver Beacon Award for efforts made toward sustainability.
Courtesy of Sam Okamoto

The Town of Truckee has been awarded a 2019 Silver Beacon Award by the Institute for Local Government for efforts made toward sustainability.

The annual Beacon Awards recognize the measurable achievements of towns and cities that are working to address climate change through reductions of greenhouse gases, electric and natural gas savings, and other activities involving sustainability and use of best practices.

“For more than 10 years, the Beacon Program has encouraged, supported and recognized voluntary action by local governments throughout California to address climate change, promote energy innovation and create more sustainable communities,” a letter to the town announcing the award stated. “Dedication from local governments such as yours are truly making a difference.”

The honor is Truckee’s first full Beacon Award. In 2018, four other towns and cities in California received Silver Beacon Awards and two received gold awards.

“The overall award is attributed most entirely to the Truckee Donner Public Utility District because of their renewable portfolio purchasing. They are going out to market and buying clean energy solutions for our community,” said Town of Truckee Administrative Analyst II Nicholas Martin.

“Their customers speak to their board, and their board has heard loud and clear that a priority of our community is to have renewable energy. And so they have made that a large priority in how they procure their power. That makes up a huge chunk of those emission reductions in the community.”

Community greenhouse gases were reduced by 33%, according to information supplied to the Institute for Local Government, which qualified as platinum level in the four areas of accomplishment required to receive a Beacon Award. The town reached gold levels for a 12% reduction in agency greenhouse gases and an agency energy savings of 13%.

“Some of those activities include a handful of energy efficiency retrofit projects that we have done and will be doing this year on our own town facilities,” said Martin. “There’s almost 100,00-kilowatt hours in savings that we will be implementing and have already implemented at town hall, at our corporation yard, and other facilities that the town owns.”

The town also reached a silver level for natural gas savings of 6%, which Martin said were due to boiler insulation projects and other projects related to heating.

‘smaller actions … big impacts’

Last year, the town received a silver level spotlight award for sustainability best practice activities. This year, Truckee moved up to a gold level spotlight award, partially due to bringing in a consultant team, which produced a strategic energy plan that included $300,000 worth of recommended energy efficiency actions. The town budgeted $240,000 to implement those improvements in the 2019-2020 fiscal year.

Other activities that bought Truckee up to a gold level included partnering with regional agencies to produce the Tahoe-Sierra Stormwater Resource Plan, launching of the Keep Truckee Green website, replacing streetlights along Brockway Road with solar-powered lights, installation of roundabouts to improve traffic flow, the town’s involvement in preserving the Truckee River corridor and Donner Lake, and several others.

“This year, one of (town council’s) top priorities, right along with housing, is addressing climate change at a local level and how we can become a more sustainable town. Their guidance and leadership put staff in the direction where we could go to work on theses good projects,” said Martin.

“We’re a small jurisdiction, so sometimes smaller actions can have a bigger impact.”

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