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SLO City Council votes to move forward on "Clean Energy Choice Policy" for new buildings

Posted at 11:22 PM, Jun 16, 2020
and last updated 2020-06-17 04:05:22-04

The San Luis Obispo City Council voted Tuesday night to move forward with its Clean Energy Choice Policy Resolution.

"This is essentially a program to encourage all future new buildings to be electric," said Eric Veium, Chair of the SLO Climate Coalition. "It still provides the opportunity for buildings to be installed with gas, but those buildings need to be slightly more efficient."

The city says this will not only help reduce its carbon footprint, but it'll also be cost effective.

Monterey Bay Community Power, the city's new electricity option, estimates it already saved consumers in San Luis Obispo over a million dollars.

"The cost of energy, the cost [of] installation is comparable to that of operating a home or business with a mixed fuel set up. Additionally these homes and businesses will have solar on the roof [due to new state regulations] so especially in the case of a new home, that dramatically reduces the on-going energy costs," Veium said.

The city says the cost effectiveness has been proven in two ways: a legal requirement from the state, and studies that show costs with electric buildings are cheaper or comparable to natural gas.

Not everyone sees it this way; some community members worry the price of new homes may go up with this new resolution.

"It should be your choice how you choose to run your own home," said Amber Johnson, Public Relations Consultant for Keep SLO Natural. "It's your property -- whether or not you want to bake a cupcake with gas or electricity -- that should be your right to choose."

The second reading of this resolution is scheduled for July 7th, and it could go into effect September 1st, 2020.

Several steps towards carbon neutrality have been made by the city in the past few years.

Over the weekend however, this initiative was scrutinized after Mayor Heidi Harmon posted on social media that racism and the climate crisis are "interconnected."

"If we're not going to address the history with emissions, or environmental justice, and we're not going to talk about redlining and how our people were put into certain neighborhoods that the people who look like this mayor wouldn't put herself into -- unless we're going to talk about the whole history -- don't pick and choose what you're going to talk about to fit your needs in a specific moment," said Lorreen Pryor, Public Relations Manager of the Black Small Business Association of California.

Mayor Harmon's post has since been taken down. We reached out to the Mayor for comment about the post and have not heard back.