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Supervisors approve climate action plan, set renewable energy target

 

Last updated 2/26/2018 at 12:08am



SAN DIEGO – The San Diego Board of Supervisors unanimously approved a Climate Action Plan with a 90 percent renewable energy target for unincorporated areas of San Diego County by 2030.

The plan includes 26 items that range from reducing the number of miles traveled in county vehicles to acquiring conservation land and installing solar panels on existing homes. The plan covers the region’s unincorporated areas that are home to some 492,500 people, as well as county government operations.

The county’s initial plan approved in 2012 was challenged in a lawsuit by the local Sierra Club chapter, citing a lack of specificity. A judge in 2015 ordered the county to revamp the plan.

The supervisors’ big choice Wednesday was whether to set a renewable energy target of 90 or 100 percent by 2030.

Chairwoman Kristin Gaspar said she favored a fully renewable plan in order to get the county “out of court and into action,” but her colleagues disagreed. Several said the lower threshold was a better starting point for the county’s greener future.

“The 90 percent threshold is more appropriate and a more realistic target,” Supervisor Greg Cox said. “It’s not a ceiling; to me it’s a floor.”

To achieve that goal, the county will study three options: partnering with a public utility such as San Diego Gas & Electric, creating or joining a community choice aggregation program or expanding its direct access program.

Digging into the pros and cons of each choice won the support of business leaders who addressed the board.

But environmentalists criticized the county’s plan, saying the plan does little to try to limit the average number of miles driven by unincorporated community residents.

To achieve a reduction in a measurement known as “vehicle miles traveled,” the county plans to provide information about ridesharing services, create parking facilities that rely on more than one vehicle sharing a space at different times of day and promote electric vehicles by installing 2,040 charging stations.

“The advantages of a vehicle miles traveled reduction is enormous, but largely ignored in this draft plan,” George Courser of the Sierra Club said. “It should be a core part of the plan.”

Supervisor Ron Roberts said vehicle miles traveled should be monitored, but it should not “direct policy.”

Supervisor Dianne Jacob said reducing mileage by improving density near public transit hubs in unincorporated areas is “totally unrealistic” because many of those areas are rural and their residents rely on personal vehicles to get around.

 

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