Oct 3 2017

OPINIONS: Climate Action Plan Task Force Reports: Renewable Energy, Buses, Parking, LED Lights

On September 26, 2017,  I went to the Climate Action Plan Task Force meeting. The Task Force meets about once a month. This meeting was to fine tune the Climate Action Plan for Piedmont, California. In addition to going over the Climate Action Plan, the partnership between the city of Piedmont and Piedmont High School was discussed and a presentation from Tom Kelly and Ben Foster about East Bay Community Energy took place.

 At the beginning of the meeting there was a Public Forum in which the public was able to bring up topics they wanted to talk about. At this time, two students spoke: Alex Lopez and Dylan Scov. Alex Lopez brought up the idea that the city should do a bulb drive in which people would trade in their old light bulbs for new ones and PG&E would subsidize the cost. Dylan Scov brought up student parking and suggested that the city should make a lot of streets resident-only parking as an incentive for students who live in walking distance of school to walk to school.

 The first topic discussed at the meeting was renewable energy. Tom Kelly and Ben Foster gave a presentation about East Bay Community Energy, an energy provider for the bay area. EBCE wants to create an energy plan that sets people up with 100% renewable energy as a default. The default would be 100% renewable, but there would also be opt-down and opt-out options. The 100% renewable default would be the most expensive, while the opt-out option would be the cheapest. To have this energy plan, the city needs to sign on as a whole, but if people are unable to pay for the default option, they can choose to opt-down or opt-out. Only a couple of cities have signed on to this plan, while others use PG&E which has an opt-up option that allows people to have 100% renewable energy. In addition to providing cities with renewable energy, EBCE is conducting research on greenhouse gases in the cities that have shown interest in the 100% renewable energy default program.

 Another topic that was discussed was the meeting the Task Force had with the City and the Piedmont Unified School District. The focus of this meeting was to discuss the plan for the new high school. The plan for the new schools aims to have zero net energy in all buildings. They did not discuss how this would be achieved. Another idea that was discussed was whether the schools would get rid of the boiler for showers or not. A lot of students spoke out about this saying that they did not know there were showers at the school or that no one uses the showers. In my opinion, the school should get rid of the boiler because it uses an immense amount of energy and I have not met anyone who uses the showers.

 Another issue that was briefly discussed was the poor drainage of Witter Field. After a heavy rainfall, Witter Field floods and it is damaging to the field and makes it so that sports teams cannot have practice or games until the flooding has cleared. Although they talked about creating a drainage system under the field to fix this problem, the date that this would happen was not confirmed.

At the end of the meeting, I interviewed Tracey Woodruff, a member of the Task Force. She decided to participate in the Task Force because she “[thinks] it’s important to… have civic engagement, to be involved in your city and local politics and this was a good fit for [her] because [she does] a lot of work in the environmental field”. She talked about a plan that was made previously, but it “sat on the shelf” so she wants this plan to actually take off and addresses climate change. To make sure the plan actually gets implemented, she and the Task Force are trying to figure out what their priority is.

 In my opinion, there should not be residential parking. Although a lot of people that drive to school live close enough to the school to walk, there a lot of people that do not live that close. I am someone who does not even live in Piedmont and I don’t have the option of walking to school.

As it is, there is not enough parking for students at Piedmont High School and making streets close to the school available for residents will only make the parking problem worse. If this were to happen then the people that do live close to school would likely get the available spots first and the people who need to drive to school would be stuck parking far away from school. If the city wants to stop people who can walk to school from driving to school there should be education about what driving to school does to the environment.

by Maggie Kossak, Piedmont High School Senior


On Tuesday, September 26, 2017, the Climate Action Plan Task Force met in the Emergency Operations Center in the City Hall of Piedmont, California. In the meeting, the Climate Action Plan Task Force covered several topics.

To open the meeting, two representatives from the city of Hayward, gave a presentation on Renewable Energy. They talked about how these new, 100% Renewable Energy programs should be offered to households across the Bay Area, and what sort of benefits they will have on society.

There was an open participation period in which people had the opportunity to share ideas they had for improving the environment. Following the open participation period, the Task Force discussed upcoming meetings, and went into great detail about what their plan was for these meetings. They illustrated how they were going to share their ideas, and what tactics they were going to use to persuade the officials that they would be talking to.

At the meeting on Tuesday, September 26, 2017, there were a number of issues that were brought up and discussed by several of the members of the Task Force, in addition to others who attended the meeting.

The most prominent was regarding Renewable Energy in the Bay Area. Tom Kelly, a representative of the city of Hayward, presented an idea to the Force. Kelly focused primarily on the goals he has for the entire Bay Area. He illustrated how PG&E’s current renewable percentage was below 30% on average. If the Bay Area, and eventually the entire state of California, wants to become 100% renewable energy, then this number is going to have to increase. However, PG&E will not make significant enough efforts to try and raise this number, so other measures must occur.

Kelly then proposed new programs, that start with about 50% renewable. These programs would be offered to all homeowners when they are first buying their houses. At first, the programs will cost more, but will save money over time. In addition to saving money, these programs will also gradually increase in terms of percent renewable over time, which is taking drastic steps towards 100% renewable energy. The absolute end goal, other than 100% renewable energy for all of California, is to have 100% renewable energy as a default option for residents and businesses in California.

Following the presentation, Kelly allowed for questions and concerns regarding his proposal. One man in the audience, who was not a member of the Climate Action Task Force, had a good amount of questions and concerns regarding Kelly’s proposed idea. The biggest of the concerns that the man addressed was this: these new programs are going to cost a lot more money to make, and install in everyone’s homes and businesses, so who is going to pay for all of this?

Although Kelly did not have a direct response to this concern, he came up with a few possible answers for the question asked. First, Kelly said that one resolution to the increase in price could be an increase in taxes. However, Kelly realized that this was probably not the best solution because of the financial negative effects it would have on all of the residents who would theoretically be buying the new programs.

Another proposed solution to the money issue would be government paying for it. This was the best solution because it was the most logical. Because going 100% Renewable Energy would save the government a very significant amount of money, the government would be more than willing to pay for the extra cost it would take to make and supply these new programs to all residents and businesses.

Personally, I think that these new 100% Renewable Energy programs are a huge step for not only the city of Piedmont and the Bay Area, but for all of California and the rest of the United States as well. As Global Warming continues, more and more ideas are coming up about how to reduce energy use, or develop clean energy that does not have a negative effect on the environment.

With these new programs, residents will be supporting the environment, without even knowing it. By switching to the programs, people will be using more and more clean, renewable energy all day, everyday, as opposed to dirty energy that we are using currently.

If everyone in Piedmont switches to these programs, then the Bay Area will see how much it is affecting the environment, and eventually the entire state of California, and the entire country will realize just how important clean, renewable energy is, and what positive effects it can have on society. That will influence them to switch to these new programs, and before we know it, the Country will be running on 100% renewable energy.

The Climate Action Plan Task Force meets twice a month, in the Piedmont City Hall to share ideas for how to improve the environment in both the city of Piedmont specifically, and the Bay Area as a whole.

by Dylan Skov, Piedmont High School Senior


The government meeting I attended was the Climate Action Plan Task Force. This government task force meets once a month. In the beginning of the meeting I spoke during the public secession and suggested that we should have a bulb drive. I suggested that we team up with PG&E and have people come in and trade their incandescent bulbs for LED bulbs. Hopefully, if we teamed up with PG&E ,they would subsidize the cost. In doing a bulb drive we save people money and reduce emissions.

One purpose of the meeting was to review the 100% renewable default options proposed by East Bay Community Energy. Tom Kenny, from EBCE, presented a slideshow about how East Bay Community Energy (EBCE) will evaluate and provide 100% renewable energy for residents and businesses. Cities like Piedmont, Hayward, Albany and Berkeley want to take part in this study and work toward a 100% renewable energy options. At this point, over 153 cities have committed to a 100% clean energy plan. EBCE is teaming up with PG&E. Currently, PG&E has a plan to achieve 100% renewable energy by 2030.

Tracey Woodruff, a task force member, asked how the EBCE proposal would impact people’s utility bills.  Tom Kenny responded by saying the utility cost would remain about the same. EBCE representatives, Tom Kenny and Ben Foster left the meeting after their presentation.

Another topic that was addressed at the meeting was the partnership between the City and Piedmont High School to curb climate change. The City and PHS met to discuss goals for future action and this was reported on at the meeting.  Piedmont High School has set a list of goals that they hope to accomplish in the near future. Some goals were to invest in sub metering for each building, get rid of the boilers for the showers and have a solar plan. There is also a issue with Witter Field and its drainage system and if that could be fixed it would save money. Tracey Woodruff wanted to know what Piedmont schools needed to do to accomplish a zero net energy goal for all the buildings.

A plan that will benefit the school would be to switch all light bulbs to LED including the lights at Witter Field. That plan alone would save so much money. Likewise, the city hopes to invest in EV cars for the police department and that would require charging stations. There was also discussion on having a citywide shuttle like they have in Emeryville. A city shuttle can help reduce car use and decrease traffic. Not a lot more could be said about what Piedmont High School could do because there was not a representative present. After other administrative discussions on position changes and Public Workshops for climate change the meeting adjourned.

In my opinion, I think the school is the most important resource to help accomplish the city wide goal of curbing climate change. I believe that switching to LED lights in all the classrooms and on Witter Field will make a big difference. LED lights reduce electricity, reduce risk of combustion. They are also sturdier and save money. I believe installing solar panels at the high school will make a big difference. However, I am not sure that having a shuttle will change people’s behavior. People have cars and that’s how they get around Piedmont. We do not need to invest in another bus that will have few kids on it and just waste gas. Also, people need to get to placed outside Piedmont and it appeared that the shuttle would only transport people around Piedmont. There are better solutions than shuttles.

I interviewed a resident of Piedmont who showed up at the meeting. Her name was Janet Laurent and she lives on Highland Avenue. She came to the meeting because she is concerned about the sizes of the buses in Piedmont. In Mrs. Laurent’s opinion, “Transportation is the issue I’m interested in.” She noticed that a lot of Piedmont residents do not ride on the buses and they are always empty. Each day she notices this from her house on Highland at the start and end of the bus route. In her opinion, unnecessary buses are a major problem. When the option of having a Piedmont Shuttle was discussed at the meeting, Mrs. Laurent agreed that is was a good solution. With the buses coming up and down Highland, a shuttle would “free up parking and the residence.” Her reaction to the meeting was positive. She learned a lot and believed “good things will happen.” The next step Mrs. Laurent will take is to go to the workshops on transportation and help raise awareness among Piedmont residents.

by Alex Lopez, Piedmont High School Senior

 Editors’ Note: Opinions expressed are those of the authors.

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