Sonoma County, just north of San Francisco Bay, is home to nearly 500,000 residents and is one of the fastest growing counties in Northern California.
Sonoma County is in the midst of an extended period of economic and industrial growth, and local government officials have demonstrated a healthy appetite for progressive environmental and energy initiatives. For example, the Sonoma County Climate Protection Campaign (CPC) is leading efforts to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions in the county, and the Sonoma County redevelopment agencies assist neglected areas in improving living conditions for residents, including access to affordable energy.
For CALeep, these two initiatives offered attractive avenues by which local governments in Sonoma County could successfully reduce energy consumption and thereby increase their impact on the quality of life in Sonoma County. Through a partnership with the Association of Bay Area Government’s (ABAG) Local Government Energy Program (LGEP) and the Sonoma County CPC, and working separately with local redevelopment agencies, CALeep helped to explore two previously unexploited channels for implementing energy efficiency strategies and learning valuable lessons that can be shared with other California communities.
CALeep Sonoma County Pilot Objectives
GHG Reduction Community Engagement Channel:
- Significantly increase participation in the Local Government Energy Partnership (LGEP) within Sonoma County and establish simultaneous engagement of the nine city governments, county government and water agency through collaboration with the regional Climate Protection Campaign (CPC).
- Develop a database of county-wide municipal and county facility energy use based on Pacific Gas & Electric (PG&E) energy billing histories in order to establish baseline energy usage and support LGEP energy assessment reports.
- Provide back-up community engagement where necessary to assist LGEP in maintaining community participation. Assist up to two cities in this manner to ensure engagement of energy efficiency program development activities.
Redevelopment Agency Community Engagement Channel Activities:
- Sonoma Valley Redevelopment Project Area:
- Working through the Sonoma Valley Redevelopment Project Area, conduct at least 20 residential energy audits, follow-up with at least 90% participants to determine their responses to the audits and document whether they are either implementing or planning to implement audit recommendations.
- Collaborate with “La Luz”, a Latino organization representing a largely renter-occupant population, to engage their non-English speaking constituency. Arrange for La Luz to provide translation services to produce program promotional materials and organize a corollary land-owner working group to address necessary EE related dwelling upgrades. Explore the possibility of a mobile home insulation program element.
- Russian River Redevelopment Project Area:
- Working with the Russian River Redevelopment Project Area's Redevelopment Oversight Committee (ROC) and its Energy and Affordable Housing Ad Hoc Subcommittees, conduct at least 10 energy audits on small business premises, install a limited number of energy saving materials in at least 30% businesses that received energy audits, and follow-up with each participating business to determine their responses to the audits and document whether they are either implementing or planning to implement audit recommendations.
- Working with the ROC Energy and Affordable Housing Ad Hoc Subcommittees, conduct at least 20 energy audits for eligible low-income households.
Additional Sonoma County Objectives:
- Test a collaborative approach to community engagement wherein volunteer local high school students are trained to perform small business audits. Provide oversight, coaching and mentoring to the students who will produce audit reports in a learning environment for community businesses; train ten students who will conduct the 20 small business energy audits.