The Humboldt Renewable Energy Secure Communities (RESCO) project is nearing completion, and we’re close to publishing two new products, a RESCO strategic plan and a guide for local government on energy policy and regulations.
Humboldt County has the opportunity to lead the way toward a renewable energy future by using local renewable energy resources to meet the majority of its electricity needs and a large portion of its heating and transportation needs. To accomplish this in an efficient, cost-effective manner will require a well thought-out plan. The RESCO strategic plan lays out such a road map.
The plan discusses three potential future energy scenarios for the year 2030 (see figure 1, below): business-as-usual, bold, and peak. Business-as-usual assumes we maintain our current sources of energy, bold assumes we develop an optimal mix of new efficiency and renewable energy resources while capping overall cost increases at 5% above business-as-usual, and peak assumes we develop all that is practically achievable. Technologies considered include: energy efficiency, small hydro, wind, plug-in electric vehicles, heat pumps, biomass, wave, and solar power. The costs and benefits of these scenarios and technologies are considered. Finally, a set of long-term strategies and near-term next steps are presented.
The other important deliverable nearing completion is a handbook for local policymakers to help them take leadership roles on bringing more renewable energy and energy efficiency to Humboldt County. The guide posits a number of questions (How can local governments capture the financial benefits of generating their own renewable energy? How can local governments encourage and support the private development of local renewable energy and energy efficiency?) and lays out action-oriented responses tailored to conditions in Humboldt County. The guide presents examples of many ways in which Humboldt County has already acted as a leader on energy policy and identifies examples from elsewhere that may work well with a local twist.