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PUD, residents push for green energy

Renee Shadforth, Sierra Sun

Wind may soon be a source of power for Truckee electricity customers.

The Truckee Donner Public Utility District might buy into the Pleasant Valley Wind Energy Facility. The energy from the Utah-based project would add to the mix of non-renewable energy sources the district currently uses.

“It’s all about trying to be diverse, with mixture of renewable (energy) with our current supply,” said Steve Hollabaugh, electric utility engineer for the utility district.

Typically, wind energy does not provide a consistent flow of power, Hollabaugh said, but the load shape of the Pleasant Valley Wind Energy Facility provides power peaks during Truckee’s high power-use times.

Also, “When the wind doesn’t blow, we don’t pay,” Hollabaugh said.

TDPUD would have to sign a 20-year contract at $48.11 per megawatt-hour (plus transmission fees) to join the project, which may include as many as 40 other public utility districts. In the coming weeks, utility district staff will conduct more research on the facility.

The matter should come before the TDPUD board of directors within the 90-day window the district has to sign up for the project.

Truckee citizens push for renewable

The prospect of joining the wind energy facility was brought before the board Wednesday in a renewable energy workshop. During the discussion, a small group of residents voiced their desire for local renewable energy systems.

Truckee-resident Andrew Ryan presented information on other utility district models that reward residents for using renewable sources for energy.

“I’m asking you (the board) to explore these other opportunities,” Ryan said.

The City of Palo Alto, the Sacramento Utility District and Alameda Power are among the districts and municipalities in California that offer rebates or maintain a fund for individuals who use renewable energy.

Hollabaugh said it is possible the district will look into forming such a program.

Renewable energy comes several forms, including biomass (using vegetation), geothermal (heat from the Earth), hydroelectric (water power), wind technologies (windmills) and photovoltaics (capturing sun energy with solar panels).

The workshop came before the board after Truckee-resident Rolf Godon asked the board in June to agendize the renewable energy issue for a future meeting.

“My goal is to get the board to really raise the priority in terms of really moving in a proactive manner into renewable energy – and not the passive back seat they’ve taken until now,” Godon said in a phone interview before Wednesday’s meeting.

Board chairman Ron Hemig said he would support discussing renewable energy in a strategic planning session.

“We need to get to the point where we say. ‘This is a high-priority item,'” Hemig said. “We haven’t done that yet; we know this (renewable energy) is important.”

In addition to the wind energy project, utility district Planning Director Scott Terrell has been studying the use of biomass as a renewable energy source. The TDPUD also has a public benefit fund, which the district has used for efficiency projects with special districts in Truckee.

For more information on renewable energy, check out http://www.consumerenergycenter.org. To find out more about the TDPUD and renewable energy, visit http://www.sierrasun.com or http://www.tdpud.org.

In other Truckee Donner Public Utility District news:

— Old Greenwood Mello-Roos district: The board approved the financing documents for the Old Greenwood Community Facilities District. The board accepted the item, three to one, with Pat Sutton voting against the item and Jim Maass excusing himself from the vote.

— Broadband: Representatives from Barton Creek, the company hired to locate and secure funds for the utility district’s proposed broadband, said they are currently working toward securing financing for the $15 million project.

— Budget: General Manager Peter Holzmeister presented the draft 2004 budget, which included adding two new positions to district personnel.


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