County of SLO earns gold award for reducing electricity use by 15%

Contributed photo.

COUNTY — On Oct. 2, the Institute for Local Governments presented the San Luis Obispo County Board of Supervisors with a Gold Level Beacon Spotlight Award for Energy Savings for reducing its electricity use at public facilities by 15 percent since 2010.

SLO County was one of just three California counties to earn the award this year for voluntarily taking steps to conserve natural resources, promote energy innovation, and create healthier communities.

“This shows that our strategies for using electricity more efficiently — and using taxpayer and ratepayer dollars wisely — are working,” said John Peschong, the Board of Supervisors Chair and District 1 Supervisor. “We are honored to be recognized for our strategic approach to reducing electricity use at our public facilities.”

The County is closer than ever to its General Plan goal of reducing energy use at County facilities by 20 percent by 2020. While energy efficiency upgrades were strategically made in the past, the local government made significant progress towards its 2020 target a few years ago when it started the Sustainable Solutions Turnkey Project, the single largest energy efficiency retrofit project in the County’s history.

The County partnered with PG&E and the San Luis Obispo County Energy Watch Partnership to secure low-interest financing and utility rebates and incentives for this project. Lighting, heating and cooling systems, and energy control systems were upgraded at several public buildings across the county, which also helped reduce annual energy costs by about 6 percent and annual greenhouse gas emissions by about 10 percent since 2013.

“The County Planning and Building Department joins with County Public Works Department, PG&E and community partners in appreciation of this recognition of our energy efficiency efforts,” said Trevor Keith, County Planning and Building Department Director. “We celebrate the significant progress that’s been made with a commitment to continue down the path of reducing our energy use at our facilities.”

“The Public Works Department looks forward to continuing our mission of reducing energy consumption at our maintained facilities,” said Colt Esenwein, County Public Works Department Director. “Through the collection of data from our new energy management software and having the right team in place, we are in a position to recommend and implement future energy efficient projects which make the best use of our taxpayer’s money.”

More upgrades are currently underway, and the County has plans for even more in the future.

These efforts include:

  • Track progress through newly installed energy management software.
  • Install solar panels at buildings, parks, and other facilities.
  • Install energy storage technologies that will help reduce peak-demand energy needs.
  • Replace inefficient lightbulbs to more energy-efficient LED lighting.
  • Upgrade thermostats and heating/air conditioning equipment.
  • Automate mechanical system controls to manage remotely.
  • Adjust work schedules for maximum energy efficiency.
  • Collaborate with cities and other government agencies on regional infrastructure upgrades that will lead to better energy efficiency.
  • Add electric vehicle charging stations.
  • Continue to assess opportunities for more strategic energy use, generation, and storage at public facilities.
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