Climate and Energy Action: More Plans in the Works

07.26.2012

Climate Action Plans (CAPs) have become important planning tools for communities to articulate how they will meet energy, mobility, and material resource challenges in a carbon-constrained economy.

ESA is engaged in energy and climate action planning for cities and counties throughout California. A CAP provides a detailed roadmap for a local government and its community to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and prepare for the impacts of climate change, while identifying costs and benefits to residents, businesses, and the local government itself. In addition to reducing a community’s contribution to global warming, the many benefits to developing a local CAP include more efficient land use and transportation systems, better leveraging of existing transit services, cost savings from energy efficiency and conservation, more efficient water consumption, and less waste sent to landfills. In addition, many CAP measures provide local economic benefit and reductions in local air pollution.

The recent proliferation of local Energy Action Plans (EAPs) in California is driven in large part to the State’s long term strategy to reduce fossil fuel consumption, as presented in California’s Long-Term Energy Efficiency Strategic Plan, which states that “energy efficiency is the resource of first choice for meeting California’s energy needs.” Energy efficiency is the most reliable and cost-effective way to reduce the environmental impacts of energy production (including contributions to climate change), while typically providing cost savings for homeowners, businesses, and communities. Renewable energy production has similar benefits. The state, through its Renewable Portfolio Standard, mandates growth in solar, wind, hydro, geothermal, and other sources of renewable energy. EAPs provide a policy framework for energy planning and a set of cost-effective programs for improving energy efficiency and increasing proliferation of renewable energy generation, at both the community and municipal operations level.

ESA continues to be at the forefront of CAP and EAP development by integrating climate change and other sustainability issues into the comprehensive planning efforts of local governments. Our CAP and EAP clients include more than a dozen cities and counties across California and the western U.S. Our recent work with the City of Pleasanton, which adopted its CAP earlier this year, was particularly well received by Laura Ryan, the City’s Energy and Sustainability Manager, “ESA not only possessed the technical experience and business acumen needed to develop an incredibly comprehensive plan, it was able to successfully engage the community and regulatory stakeholders in a meaningful and collaborative fashion. ESA was not just our consultant; its staff was with us every step of the way, providing sound technical advice and mentoring.

For information on ESA’s energy and climate action planning services, contact Jeff Caton at jcaton [at] esassoc [dot] com or at 415.896.5900.