Albany Takes Strides to Reduce GHGs

Possible Revenue Sources to Implement 2010 Climate Action Plan (CAP)

AlbanyGreenhouse-Reduction-Plan2In 2006, Albany’s City Council committed the city to reduce greenhouse gas pollution (GHGs) by 2020 to 25% less than the amount it released in 2004. In 2010 the City Council adopted a Climate Action Plan (CAP) with measures to reach this goal.

Since then, Albany’s Sustainability Committee has worked on a revenue source to fund implementation of some of the CAP measures. For instance, Albany has yet to develop and implement residential and commercial energy conservation ordinances, which would require upgrading building energy efficiency at the time of sale. This is due to a lack of funding for staff to develop and implement such ordinances.

The Committee has recommended a two percent tax on imported building energy (electricity and natural gas) to provide funds for reducing GHGs. Accounts enrolled in California Alternative Rates for Energy (CARE) would be exempted. CARE provides reduced cost energy for low-income households. With this structure, the proposed tax would raise about $200,000 per year.

The Committee recommends dedicating the revenue to mandatory building energy assessments (following Berkeley’s lead), subsidizing energy conservation retrofits, and providing a fund for grant matches and staff research.

LWVBAE sent a letter supporting the revenue measure as proposed, which Action Chair Jill Martinucci reinforced by public comment to the City Council. A majority of the Council commented in support of putting the proposed  measure on the ballot. However, there was concern that operating the three proposed programs simultaneously on the proposed revenue would not be feasible.

In response to this, the local group Carbon Neutral Albany has proposed the building energy assessments should be funded in the first years and the energy retrofit subsidies in the later years. This would allow the development of the latter program to be based on data gathered from the former program, as well as the best findings from this active  research area.

If placed on the ballot and passed, this tax measure would be a model for other cities and counties to increase the cost of polluting while using the revenue to reduce pollution.

I am grateful for LWVBAE’s support in this endeavor.

– Preston Jordan

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