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Our County by Efren Carrillo

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Our County by Efren Carrillo - October 2016

by Efren Carrillo

Our Board heard testimony from a good part of our River community – environmentalists, business owners, and recreation fans – on the draft Environmental Impact Report (DEIR) for the Sonoma County Water Agency’s (SCWA) Fish Habitat Flows and Water Rights Project (Fish Flow Project). It was made clear that due to the technical nature and voluminous quantity of the DEIR documents, that the typical 60 day comment period would not allow enough time for interested parties to fully digest the information in order to properly formulate comments. 

Supervisor Gore and I met with SCWA management and made a decision to request that our Board extend the comment period to allow time for the public, and also to allow for more outreach opportunities. Pending Board approval, the new comment period and additional hearing dates will be announced on October 4th, and will be available at www.sonomacountywater.org/fish-flow.

Coho and Chinook salmon and steelhead were once abundant in the Russian River watershed. Today, Coho are on the brink of extinction, and Chinook and Steelhead are listed as threatened. Our once healthy Russian River, is now listed as an impaired water body. 

In 2008, a federal agency (National Marine Fisheries Service – NMFS) determined that the best approach to help fish survive during their life cycle on the river would be to reduce the flows in the river and allow for resting places along the course for the juvenile salmon that are making their way out to the Ocean. 

Starting in 2010, SCWA was required to request temporary changes to minimum instream flow requirements on the Russian River during the summer months to improve the opportunity for young fish to survive their journey to the ocean. The intent of the EIR is to gain state approval for a permanent approach, which will eliminate the annual request that has been made every year since 2010.

But, as we all know, the drought and the low flow plan has been controversial. Required by NMFS, the agency has little choice but to follow the directive of the Biological Opinion. Still, residents and visitors have seen impacts to their beloved river, and have concerns about the long term effect to the environment. I’m looking forward to allowing everyone a chance to make their voice heard on this issue and the DEIR. 

I’m proud to have led the effort to launch of Sonoma Clean Power in May 2014. The County’s official electricity provider has delivered on its twin environmental and economic goals by reducing greenhouse gas emissions (GHGs) by 48% relative to PG&E’s electricity (2014 audited numbers) and providing $62 million in customer bill savings. 

Sonoma Clean Power has been a major force in pioneering clean energy and reducing our collective impact on the planet. The next big initiative will involve using clean energy to reduce fuel costs & emissions for Sonoma County. 

Nearly two years after launching, the Agency began pondering what else could be done to reduce GHGs and benefit the environment we all share. With the knowledge that cars in Sonoma County contributes over half of all GHG emissions*, the idea for the Drive EverGreen program began to take shape. 

Drive EverGreen is a pilot program aimed at putting 10,000 electric vehicles (EVs) on Sonoma County roads by the end of 2020 in ways that support renewable energy. Simply put: using clean electricity to reduce fuel costs and emissions for Sonoma County. 

The program’s major objectives are:

Support a 50% reduction in gasoline use by 2030 through making EVs more convenient, more visible, more available to low-income drivers and less expensive; 

Supply electricity for transportation, including with 100% locally-produced renewable energy 

Use the control of EV charging infrastructure to support grid balancing, an essential part of adding more renewable energy to our mix of source

Climate, Money and Jobs. EVs represent a major opportunity to reduce GHGs, where a shift from an average vehicle to an EV charging with EverGreen (SCP’s 100% renewable service) reduces CO2 emissions over 95%. EVs also cost less over their life because of the lower cost of fuel and maintenance, and the tax credits and other available incentives. Our local solar industry needs EVs too, because they enhance the value of solar energy when cars charge during the day.

Slated to roll out in late October/early November, Drive EverGreen will encourage Sonoma County drivers to purchase or a lease a new or used EV through reduced prices and incentives. More information will be available form SCP soon. Drive clean. Drive EverGreen!