Volunteer committee completes conservation report | SierraSun.com

Volunteer committee completes conservation report

Jenny Goldsmith
Sierra Sun

Nearly 20 volunteers met over two dozen times throughout the past year with one critical mission: To formulate a plan to reduce the consumption of electric and water resources in the Truckee Donner Public Utility District service area.

That group ” known as the Water and Energy Conservation Citizens Advisory Committee ” has completed their mission by presenting a set of conservation recommendations to the district’s board of directors at the Wednesday meeting.

“It’s a significant body of work. I’m impressed that a group of volunteers could produce that book,” said board director Ron Hemig at the meeting. “I think our board is going to have a big challenge trying to look at all this information … and turning it into things we can do.”

The committee reviewed nearly 6,000 possible energy efficiency measures and evaluated them based on the applicability for the region in terms of climate, customer base and usage patterns, said committee chair Doug Grandy.

Some of the recommendations include adopting a tiered rate structure, investing in studies to better manage and educate electricity and water staff, forming partnerships with other utilities and nonprofit agencies to help carry out the programs and appointing a new Citizen’s Advisory Committee, Grandy said.

“In the wake of this group, there’s a lot of interest in participating in another Citizen’s Advisory Committee that would have a different mission,” Grandy said.

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A new committee could track the implementation of the plan, act as a sounding board for new ideas and programs and serve as a volunteer resource for the district, Grandy said.

Some of the recommendations have already be implemented by the district such as adopting a comprehensive set of conservation programs, providing a volunteer renewable energy credits program and increasing the transparency and openness of district operations, Grandy said.

The unprecedented approach toward conservation was sparked in Dec. 2006 when ratepayers voiced concern over a 50-year coal-power contract the district opted not to enter.

The district has since responded to the public outcry by seeking other renewable energy power sources, restructuring the conservation department, tripling the energy conservation budget, adopting several rebate programs, and by instituting the Conservation Committee and already applying some of their recommendations, Grandy said.

But the district’s sustainable-energy efforts will not stop at the report, said board director Joe Aguera.

“I think the report should be the first volume in the library in our conservation department,” Aguera said.

The board and staff will continue to review the recommendations made by the committee and will devise a plan on how to move forward, said Scott Terrell, conservation specialist.

“Our task will be to review the entire report again and start spelling out what recommendations we want to implement in 2009 and beyond,” Terrell said.

1. Perform an electric load study

2. Adopt a package of measures for conservation of electricity and water

3. Develop and implement a comprehensive marketing program to raise awareness of the district’s programs

4. Adopt increasing tiered rates for electricity and water

5. Elevate the status and budget of conservation within the organization

6. Increase training of staff in energy and water conservation

7. Subsidize low-income retrofits

8. Adopt one or more community renewable energy programs

9. Encourage distributed generation

10. Consider district ownership of generators

11. Perform a full conservation and distributed generation retrofit of the district office building

12. Spend the public goods charge fund on energy efficiency, renewable energy, research and development and low-income assistance

13. Account for the Public Benefit Funds with a separate line item on all bills

14. Appoint a Citizen’s Advisory Committee

15. Publish a power content label that accurately reflects the district’s power supply

16. Cooperative recommendations for other jurisdictions to implement