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Local Government Commission

Currents


Summer 2012

 

San Diego Grand Jury Commends Local Government Energy Efforts

In the course of its investigations, the San Diego County Grand Jury often finds agencies that are doing an outstanding job or providing noteworthy community services. The 2011/2012 Grand Jury found six instances of exception public agency performance, including efforts in renewable energy and conservation.

The Grand Jury found that San Diego area local governments are leaders in renewable energy projects. Wastewater treatment plants and landfills produce methane gas that generates enough electricity to power the facilities and sell excess to the grid. There are solar panels on county, municipal and special district parking lots, water and wastewater treatment plants, city halls, fire and police stations, jails, schools, transit facilities, parks, libraries and recreation centers.

The City of San Diego ranks first among communities statewide in solar electricity generation capacity at residential, commercial and government buildings (nearly 37 MW). San Diego also ranks first in the number of photovoltaic systems with 4,500 projects. Solar panels in the city produce more than $9 million worth of electricity annually. And the City of San Diego generates 50% of its municipal electric use.

Escondido, El Cajon, Poway and Chula Vista are among the top 50 communities in the state for either solar projects or capacity. And the County as a whole is second in installed solar capacity (112.5 MW). All new County buildings include PV-ready systems as part of their design.

Local governments are also leaders in energy conservation. In the past ten years, the County has reduced energy use at its facilities by 16%. The City of San Diego saves 150 million kilowatt-hours annually through retrofits and other measures. The City’s Ridgehaven “Green Building” realizes about $100,000 of annual savings through energy and water conservation. Its energy consumption is 28% less than California’s 2005 Energy Code (Title 24). The Ridgehaven building received the first Energy Star label for Buildings from US DOE and US EPA.

The City of San Diego has six Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) buildings and the County has 15 built or planned LEED buildings. Most local governments in the county offer incentives such as expedited building permits for private construction that meets LEED standards.

The Grand Jury commends the local governments in the County for promoting energy independence, reducing air pollution and the carbon footprint of the area, and providing jobs for the local economy.