Supervisors are set to vote Tuesday on a plan that maps out how the county would reduce its contribution to global climate change.
The EnergyWise Plan focuses on reducing greenhouse gas emissions and ways to prepare for the anticipated effects of climate change. Greenhouse gases are emissions such as carbon dioxide that tend to trap the heat from the sun near the Earth’s surface.
In San Luis Obispo County, the bulk of these emissions comes from vehicles, industry and homes. The plan calls for emissions in the county to be cut to 15 percent below the level of those emissions in 2006.
James Caruso, the senior county planner in charge of the plan, said about half of these reductions would come from newly enacted state rules and regulations. These include mandated increases in auto mileage and a requirement that fuel burn 10 percent cleaner.
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The other half would come from county policies that would over time make homes and buildings more energy efficient and plan communities in ways that reduce the need for commuting and other car trips.
“This is not a regulatory document,” Caruso said. “It mostly addresses things we are already doing.”
Examples of additional steps that can be taken include offering loans and grants to homeowners interested in energy retrofits or requiring such retrofits if a home undergoes a major upgrade. Such policies would likely target homes built before 1990, which tend to be much less energy efficient than modern homes.
The policy originally had a requirement that all homes have an energy audit and retrofit performed at the time of sale. However, the Planning Commission dropped that requirement at the behest of the real estate industry.
All of these steps would have the benefit of saving on energy costs for homes, businesses and government buildings. But another main goal is slowing the effects of global climate change.
Locally, rising temperatures are expected to increase sea levels and the wildfire danger as well as increase the severity of floods and droughts, reduce agricultural productivity and water supplies and increase heat-related illnesses.
The county’s EnergyWise plan was funded by a $167,000 stimulus grant from the federal Department of Energy.