County making strides toward sustainability |

County making strides toward sustainability

Aaron Osowski, The Park Record
Converting more of its fleet to compressed natural gas (CNG) vehicles is a goal of Summit County s Sustainability Plan. A new CNG refueling station that was added to Bell s Sinclair station at Silver Creek in January was crucial in helping the county in that goal. (Photo courtesy of Julie Booth)

Summit County has crafted a plan to attain its foremost goals of energy efficiency and emissions reduction. The Sustainability Plan will be presented to the Council at today’s regular meeting.

The new Sustainability Plan will cover 2014-2016 and will set the stage for reducing carbon dioxide-equivalent emissions, boosting energy efficiency in county buildings, increasing renewable energy and maintaining air and water quality, among other efforts.

Summit County Sustainability Coordinator Lisa Yoder said the county wants to make it easier for both homeowners and commercial operations to invest in renewable energy.

"We’re going to build on what we did last year in reducing barriers to renewable energy, particularly within the building department by reducing fees and streamlining approvals," Yoder said.

The county is hoping to continue initiatives from 2010 to 2013, which saw the following achievements:

  • Reduced natural gas usage in county buildings by 10 percent
  • Decreased electricity usage in county buildings by 4 percent
  • Number of fleet vehicles cut by 24 percent
  • Decreased fuel consumption of fleet vehicles by 18 percent
  • Increased solar photovoltaic countywide by 691 percent
  • Reduced landfill tonnage by 13 percent due to recycling

    The staggering amount of solar panel installations last year was due to the enormous success of the Summit Community Solar program, which led to the installation of 363 kilowatts of solar throughout 70 residences. An additional 221 kW was installed separate from the program as well.

    County Councilman Roger Armstrong wants the county to pursue discussion with Sonoma and Marin Counties in California regarding their implementation of a community choice aggregation (CCA) system in which a county or city can bulk purchase renewable energy for residents who want it. Summit County wants to create a similar system and will explore options.

    A major element of the Sustainability Plan is its greenhouse gas reduction goal to reduce CO2-equivalent emissions by 13 percent below the "business-as-usual" level, which assumes an increase of 3 percent in emissions per year. Although the county did not meet that goal last year, it is on track to meet it by the end of this year.

    In the realm of making its buildings more energy efficient, the county will look to install $348,000 worth of energy efficiency and lighting upgrades to the County Justice Center at Silver Summit and the County Courthouse in Coalville. The Justice Center alone uses 50 percent of the total electricity used for all county buildings, and 44 percent of the total natural gas used.

    Yoder said the county had applied for a Rocky Mountain Power Blue Sky grant to install a 74 kW solar panel system at the Justice Center but did not receive it. The county could receive a $54,000 rebate from Rocky Mountain Power’s Utah Solar Incentive Program, however, but full funding for the project would need to come from the county budget first, unless Yoder can uncover other funding sources.

    In order to determine the most cost-effective upgrades to the Justice Center and Courthouse, the county will bring on a contractor to analyze options, Yoder said.

    Summit County intends to further emissions reduction, however, as the establishment of a new emissions reduction target will be a topic of discussion at Wednesday’s meeting. At last Wednesday’s County Council meeting, Armstrong said the 2014-2016 Plan’s proposed reduction target of 15 percent below 2005 levels may be "a bit conservative."

    "There are technologies that make it easier to achieve emissions reductions more now than at any point in the last several decades," Armstrong said.

    The Summit County Council is set to approve the 2014-2016 Sustainability Plan at 3 p.m. at this Wednesday’s County Council hearing at the Sheldon Richins Building, 1885 W. Ute Boulevard.

    For more information, contact Lisa Yoder at 435-336-3128 or at