Ukiah residents can cut carbon emissions at home – The Ukiah Daily Journal

Eileen Mitro is at the forefront of efforts by citizens of Mendocino County to fight climate change. She drives an electric car, installed a solar system and a car charger years ago, and runs her home in northeast Ukiah with 100% EverGreen electricity from solar and geothermal renewables. local through Mendocino County’s default electricity utility, Sonoma Clean Power. She installed a Tesla battery backup to automatically run the dishwasher and charge the car late at night when electricity prices are lowest.

Mitro says she pays a monthly premium of around $ 12 for EverGreen, and of all the investments she has made over the past decade to reduce her carbon footprint, this is the one that has paid the most for the. less money. Sonoma Clean Power is the only utility in California to offer the option of 100% renewable and locally produced energy 24/7.

“The West is really impacted by climate change, a big time. We have to change and there are programs to help, ”Mitro said. “The thing with the EverGreen program is you really don’t have to do anything because they provide your electricity without using fossil fuels. So good.”

Mendocino County changed its eligible county buildings to EverGreen as one of several measures passed on August 3 as part of the Carbon-Free Mendocino resolution to spend $ 2 million to reduce carbon emissions from operations. The county plans to install solar and battery backup systems on eligible buildings in the county, install more electric vehicle chargers across the county, and support the purchase of electric buses from the Mendocino Transit Authority.

“Reducing greenhouse gases is critical for us because the looming threat of climate change is extraordinary, and we are witnessing it,” said Glenn McGourty, Mendocino County Supervisor, just ahead of Supervisors’ unanimous vote for adopt the resolution.

Mendocino County has a long history of action on environmental issues, with at least nine nonprofit groups working on climate change today, including the Grassroots Institute which first proposed a carbon-free resolution to the Supervisory Board. Climate groups, local governments and citizens have focused on reducing greenhouse gas emissions for years, but now with palpable urgency.

“Most of us want to do more to reduce our carbon footprint, and at Willits we are fortunate that Sonoma Clean Power’s mission is to help us do that,” said Willits Mayor Madge Strong, former alternate member of the utility board.

A spokesperson for Sonoma Clean Power said the utility was providing greener electricity at competitive costs with Pacific Gas and Electric (PG&E). As a not-for-profit public service, it is one of 23 such agencies operating in California and established since 2002. It was at this point that the State of California authorized “aggregation”. community choices ”- as part of a national movement towards local control of energy supply – which has enabled cities and counties to purchase or generate electricity for their residents and businesses. In Mendocino County, PG&E owns the power grid infrastructure so that electricity is delivered over its lines.

In 2016, Mendocino County developed a joint power agreement with the towns of Willits, Fort Bragg, and Point Arena (Ukiah has its own utility) and partnered with Sonoma County to purchase power from Sonoma Clean Power. At the time, the Santa Rosa Press Democrat announced that the change would provide 36% of electricity generation from renewable resources such as geothermal, wind and solar that meet the energy wallet standard. renewable energy (RPS) from California, compared to 33% for PG&E. Customers can opt out and have their electricity produced by PG&E.

Sonoma Clean Power says its current percentage of electricity produced from renewables has increased to 49% for Mendocino County, from 31% for PG&E. The state of California requires 60% of electricity to be powered by renewable resources by 2035.

In addition to providing greener electricity, Sonoma Clean Power offers programs, discounts and incentives to customers of all income levels. Like Mitro, customers can pay the utility a premium for EverGreen electricity. Or customers can check out a do-it-yourself toolkit at any Mendocino County library and install free LED bulbs, weatherstripping, and shower heads. Kits come with a bilingual instruction booklet and tools for checking room temperature and detecting air leaks.

Mitro says she is not rich but is committed to making investments that reduce her carbon footprint. An early follower, she bought an electric vehicle (EV) fast charger years ago. Today, thanks to Sonoma Clean Power’s Gridsavvy community, any customer can take advantage of a free EV charger as well as offers on smart thermostats, ultra-efficient thermodynamic water heaters and a $ 5 credit on their monthly utility bill.

David Harvey, store manager of the Advanced Energy Center, uses a magnet to verify that the teapot has a magnetic bottom as he demonstrates an induction cooker. Buyers can get cookware with the stove

But not everyone in Mendocino County is a Sonoma Clean Power customer. How can Ukiah residents, with their own utility, and those who live off-grid reduce or eliminate their carbon footprint? This reporter, who lives off the grid with no connection to utilities, and Ukiah resident and city councilor Mari Rodin visited the Santa Rosa Advanced Energy Center to find out.

For starters, their respective carbon emissions are quite low. This reporter uses solar energy for electricity, but uses a gas generator for back-up and propane for cooking and heating. Rodin also cooks and heats with gas, but is fortunate that Ukiah runs many California communities: 36.2% of the electricity it supplies to its customers is produced from local renewable geothermal resources, from small hydroelectric power stations. and solar that meet California RPS.

Built by Sonoma Clean Power with a $ 9.8 million grant from the California Energy Commission, the Advanced Energy Center opened on June 15 with the goal of teaching people how to reduce their carbon footprint and deliver products. energy efficient in local communities. This is a 9,000 square foot candy jar containing appliances, cooktops, battery backups, heating and air conditioning units, research projects, meeting space and more .

It’s the perfect place to kick the tires up and discover efficient products using all five senses: A quiet mini-split heating and cooling system looks stylish on a wall, with a palm resting on a wall. Induction stove turned on stays cool, the air inside the center smells and feels cool. And each visitor receives a chocolate chip cookie.

Mari Rodin discovers an easy-to-install and energy-efficient mini-split heating and air conditioning system at the Advanced Energy Center in Santa Rosa.

Once they’re ready to replace an appliance, anyone can purchase products from the Advanced Energy Center website, which lists discounts, discounts, and installers.

“We wanted a place to educate customers on these products, help them find contractors who know how to install them correctly, and ensure that low-income Sonoma Clean Power customers can afford these energy efficient devices,” David said. Harvey, the store manager who led the tour.

All revenue levels are eligible for manufacturer discounts negotiated by Sonoma Clean Power, and the utility may add discounts to these discounts for its customers. For low-income customers who qualify, a super efficient water heater, for example, can cost zero dollars. The cost of installation can be reimbursed to Sonoma Clean Power on monthly utility bills without interest.

In fact, Harvey said, any customer of the Sonoma Clean Power utility with a good history of paying their bills can claim zero percent interest on up to $ 10,000 in purchases of energy efficient products offered by the company. Advanced Energy Center. “Some of these technologies are pretty big home systems,” Harvey said. “We help with discounts, rebates and zero percent financing. “

By the end of the tour, the path to zero carbon emissions from our homes and cars is clear: we will eventually abandon their use of fossil fuels and go all-electric using renewable energy with battery backup. People like Mitro are already well advanced.

A short list of our favorite super-effective products from the Center:

1. Heat recovery ventilation system. Long popular in Europe and Asia but virtually unknown in America, this ingenious Rube Goldberg-type machine brings the outside air into a well-built house, filters it, and absorbs the heat or cold from the stale air so that the system heating and cooling does not work. have to work hard to keep the indoor temperature stable. Equipped with a HEPA filter, it can purify the smoky air for the whole house.

2. Induction cooker. No wonder Napa’s famous French Laundry restaurant has an induction kitchen: the stove is fire resistant, can’t burn fingers and hands, and removes air pollution and excess heat from gas cookers. With induction, a magnetic field excites the atoms in the pot. A cook can quickly boil water or melt sugar at ultra-low boil. Sonoma Clean Power customers who purchase an induction cooker from the Centre’s website can get a free set of quality cookware.

3. Commercial dishwasher. It only uses 15 liters of water per day. The heat recovery system takes heat from the previous load and uses it to heat the water for the next load.

4. Whole house battery backup system. This supplies a home with electricity during peak demand when utility costs are highest and maintains a reserve to use during power outages. The battery can be controlled with an iPhone using wifi or cell service.

5. Heat pump water heater. Placed like a bowler hat on top of the water heater, it draws thermal energy from the air to help heat the water in the tank. At the same time, it cools the garage it is in or can be ventilated to cool another space. It connects to the electrical network for remote control.

About Robert Pierson

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