On Mar. 28, Sacramento and 11 other U.S. cities were awarded with a $200,000, two-year Solar America Cities grant from the U.S. Department of Energy.
“It’s a very prestigious award we got from the Department of Energy,” said the assistant planner with the Sacramento Development Services Department, Jamie Cutlip. “It’s a great honor and with this money we’ll be able to work on bringing different solar initiatives forward in Sacramento.”
Sacramento was chosen as a solar city out of a pool of over 30 applicants because it had been working on a number of policies that support solar power indirectly within the past year, in addition to having solar panels on a number of buildings in the city.
“We actually have developed a sustainability master plan and an implementation plan for the city so there has been a lot of stuff happening in the background that supports taking this next step within solar [power],” she said. “We are in the process of updating the general plan with many components of it calling for means for renewable energy and energy efficiency as we move forward in the city of Sacramento.”
The grant is specifically going to be directed toward the Sacramento Solar Access proposal, which incorporates three different city departments including the General Services Department, Department of Development Services and Economic Development Department.
The General Services department will be identifying a third-party purchase, which means they will evaluate city facilities for the use of solar power. If the buildings are sufficient for solar power, the city will place photovoltaic systems on top and then have the surrounding area’s businesses and residents use energy from them. Development Services will be looking at city zoning ordinances and what they need to change to make them compliant with solar access. The Economic Development department will be working toward bringing green-collar jobs to the Sacramento region along with working with Los Rios Community College district to implement a solar technician education program.
“This grant provides us with an opportunity to increase the availability of locally and regionally produced renewable energy,” said Sacramento’s mayor, Heather Fargo, in a press release from the Economic Development Department.
Although the grant is specifically for Sacramento, one of the criteria is how it will extend beyond the city to neighboring areas.
“It’s a huge plus to have UC Davis in the region,” said Cutlip. “There are so many smart people and emerging technologies that come out of the university and we want the solar market to be here and have UCD students stay in the area to work on these initiatives.”
The city of Davis is also looking for alternative uses for solar energy.
“We had one of the first utility scaled solar production plants on the outskirts of town,” said Mitch Sears, open space coordinator at the Parks and Community Services Department. “Now we are looking for options to increase the amount of solar energy produced locally.”
ALEX BULLER can be reached at city@californiaaggie. XXX.