I am a candidate for Arcata City Council and work as a research engineer at HSU's Schatz Energy Research Center.
Every year more than 50 million dollars leaves Arcata and more than 250 million dollars leaves Humboldt County to pay for energy. This is money that is not available to do other valuable things like rebuilding our roads, building new housing, improving healthcare, and improving our childrens' education.
We our sending our money to places like Saudi Arabia, Russia, Venezuela, and Iran that to say the least do not have our best interests at heart. Analysis that Schatz lab did under contract to the county determined that adequate natural resources exist right here in our county to replace much of this imported energy. These resources include, wind, biomass, waves, and solar energy.
I have created a computer model for how we could potentially run our county completely on local, renewable energy. I presented this model at a conference held in Arcata in the summer of 2007. The Power Point for this presentation is available online by doing a Google search with the phrase, "Integrating Humboldt County Energy Systems"
Shorter term, my energy goals for Arcata City Council are to help Arcata residents use energy more efficiently and to help them produce some of their own energy from solar. I have been working with Becky Menten, Arcata's energy specialist, to create a low-interest loan program for homeowners and businesses to help them install more energy-efficient equipment and solar to reduce their energy use. The model for the program already exists in the City of Berkeley. Another area we are investigating is a time-of-sale ordinance that would encourage and eventually require specific, cost-effective energy efficiency improvements when a building is sold. As I member of Arcata's Planning Commission we recently completed a new Land Use Code for the city that requires that new buildings in Arcata be 15% more efficient than the state's already strict energy code.
Over the past few years a group of us has been meeting to explore ways to publicly finance large-scale renewable energy projects in Humboldt County. This group has included John Woolley, Connie Stewart, Dr. Norman Bell, my Schatz colleague, Jim Zoellick, and David Boyd, the director of the Redwood Coast Energy Authority (RCEA) and myself. Projects could be financed using revenue bonds that can be issued by RCEA. Arcata is a member of RCEA and has a council member on the RCEA board.
On a small scale our home produces more energy than it uses using solar energy. We have completely eliminated using natural gas for heating the house and heating water. Our two heat pumps take renewable energy from the air and from the ground to do all our heating. Our home is an example of what's possible using existing, commercial products.
In 2000 I started a program at HSU called the Humboldt Energy Independence Fund (HEIF). The program went into effect in fall 2007. It is using student-designed energy projects to achieve a long-term goal of HSU producing as much energy as it uses based on local, renewable energy sources. HEIF can serve as a model for a larger program that we can do in Arcata and in Humboldt County to achieve energy independence. An energy independence program for Humboldt County can help create high-quality, living wage jobs and keep millions of dollars in our community.
With your support in next month's election I can use the power of Arcata's city government and the Redwood Coast Energy to put Arcata and Humboldt County on the road to energy independence.
You can also read Michael's itemized position paper on solar and renewable energy in Humboldt County.