Thank you for reaching out, and thank your members for what they do. It is a unique time to be an Electrical Eng. and a city Planning and Zoning commissioner in such a forward leaning town. Where I work, Power Engs is a global power generation and transmission consulting firm. We have a department dedicated to renewable energy and have had some great success. Renewables and Storage | POWER Engineers With Idaho Nation labs and Power Engs right here in our state we have an opportunity to be at the forefront of getting rid of that last 20% of coal usage in the County.
I probably provided a bit too much input for an informal question, this is an exciting topic for me. I can always talk to your group in person or on the phone if you are interested in that just reach out.
1. Blaine County Sustainability Manager, Andrew Mentzer, is working with stakeholders to create a climate action plan for the valley. How would you recommend the use of city resources to support the implementation of the plan?
The County’s plan is comprehensive already. There are short- and long-range goals for emissions and clean energy resourcing. Some of this is dependent on state and National initiatives, however there are things we can and have done. In the residential building area, which represents the largest amount of Hailey’s energy use, we have been working on this issue for the last 4 years. As a planning and Zoning Commissioner, myself, the board, and city staff have incentivized the use of the Energy Star ratings. This allows us to waive some fees and restrictions on density in trade for meeting or exceeding the Energy star guidelines. Further the board has promoted pre-wiring for Solar panel systems, which greatly reduces the cost of future panel installations. Next, the board provided code updates for Hailey city residents to place solar panels in their yards, which can reduce the cost of installation. Finally, we removed the mandate for natural gas to be piped to all new construction.
What’s next? There have been some recent state legal mandates that curb our ability to mandate building codes for energy efficiency, however we have had success through incentivizing developers and homeowners. As city Council representative I would push to increase the incentives through fee reduction and supported advertising. In the monthly newsletter sent by the city to all residents we should be calling out developers that “ voluntarily” meet the energy star ratings.
Transportation is our second largest consumer of nonrenewable energy. People want electric vehicles, and these will become much more available in the next 5 years. Are we going to have a place for them to plug in? The two Park and rides and city municipal building should all have charging stations. These can have a meter and pay stations attached so the city does not absorb the cost. We should continue to push for pre wiring for charging stations for residential and add to our growing electric bus fleets (Proudly Power Eng helped design the charging station for mountain rides)
Celebrating our successes in these areas is a must. Let’s get some goals for the city that can show our success and celebrate them when achieved, i.e 100 hundred electric vehicle charging stations installed, Water usage down 10% etc.
2. Given that decisions you make today have climate ramifications for decades to come, what process does the city have, or what process should be put in place, to properly evaluate and prioritize decisions to mitigate climate impact?
5B CAN has already laid out the path, we just need to make it our own. However, we need to bring Bellevue, Carey and Fairfield along with us. Lets work with their city Councils to ensure they are getting the support and expertise to make this happen for their citizens as well.
3. Is there anything else you want to tell your voters about how you would work to address climate change if elected?
Land, Water and Wildlife, help give us another reason to care about climate change, and our wildlife will take a large hit from the changing climate. I am proud to have been endorsed by the Idaho conservation voters. https://cvidaho.org/2023-endorsements/ .
In conclusion I have been working with the city as a P@Z commissioner for the last 4 years to make needed changes to our local and regional codes, to impact on climate change. The path forward is through city codes, positive outreach, and incentivizing good behavior.