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Truckee utility expanding green energy beyond state requirements

Greyson HowardSierra Sun
Sierra Sun file photoThe Truckee Donner Public Utility District has increased its renewable energy to 22 percent in the last three years.
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TRUCKEE Three years after public outcry against a 50-year coal power contract, Truckees utility district is now ahead of state standards for renewable energy.When the coal thing happened we were at about 90 percent coal, and the board set a 21 percent renewable goal by 2010, said Steve Poncelet, public information and conservation manager for the Truckee Donner Public Utility District. Weve already passed that.State legislation has set a goal of 20 percent by 2010.The district reached 8 percent renewable energy in 2007, 22.4 percent in 2008, and expected 22 percent for 2009, Poncelet said.That breaks down to 4.1 percent small hydroelectric, 6.6 percent large hydroelectric, 11.7 percent renewable energy credits (wind), and less than 1 percent solar, according to a news letter the district will be sending out with this months bills.I think theyve made great strides, said Beth Ingalls of the Truckee Climate Action Network. While the breakdown (of energy sources) isnt ideal, its a lot better than it was.The other side of the districts energy portfolio consists of 6.8 percent natural gas, 19.6 percent market purchase, which Poncelet said can include renewables, coal, and natural gas in fluctuating percentages, and 51.2 percent coal.The Northern California Power Agency which represents 17 member communities and districts uses the Truckee Donner Public Utility District as an example of a public utility getting a lot of renewable energy, Poncelet said.The district is able to achieve its numbers because gets energy through NV Energy (formerly Sierra Pacific) from nine western states, he said.Weve been able to outperform the California side, getting cheaper energy, Poncelet said.And with two California bills potentially requiring energy be used only from within California (Assembly Bill 64 and Senate Bill 14), Poncelet said the Truckee district is being used as an argument against that as well.California lawmakers are all about jobs, Poncelet said. Do you put power where it makes sense or do you use political boundaries? Truckee couldnt do it.Poncelet said if either the Senate or House bill passed, the district has received assurances it would be exempt from that requirement.Senator Coxs office specifically brought us up, Poncelet said. Illustrating through Truckee look at what a small utility is able to achieve through the open market place compared to PGandamp;E.


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