The City of Cathedral City, California has always been a leader in environmental conservation in the Coachella Valley. Since 2004, the Environmental Conservation Department (ECD) has been implementing highly successful and innovative energy and sustainability strategies that have decreased energy consumption by 16.1% in municipal buildings and 11.2 % communitywide. City staff and a host of willing partners have adopted an ambitious 2012 Energy Action Plan in order to reduce greenhouse gas production, conserve precious resources and save money.
With a population of 55,000 residents, Cathedral City was averaging a whopping $850,000 yearly bill for electricity, natural gas and fuel costs. A member of the Desert Cities Energy Partnership, the City was determined to reduce this number and lower their carbon footprint.
Using a multi-faceted approach, Cathedral City implemented several efficiency measures throughout the city, including energy, lighting and HVAC upgrades at the library, Civic Center, fire station, parking structures and other city buildings. Technology played an important role in the city’s energy makeover. Solar illumination, LED, and bi-level induction lighting, as well as photovoltaic systems in local homes were just a few of the most unique energy-saving measures included in the complete plan.
One major obstacle stood in the way of developing a workable energy plan. A sluggish economy had significantly affected city revenues. Cathedral City desperately needed to keep their initial investment in energy-saving measures at a minimal dollar figure.
With the assistance of the Honeywell Corporation, Southern California Edison, the Energy Coalition and the generosity of Energy Efficiency and Conservation Block Grant Funds (EECBG), the City orchestrated a phenomenal and economical energy action plan that is saving the City over $100,000 yearly in energy costs.
In 2004, the City entered into a seven-year contract with Honeywell, which included the installation of a 226 kWh solar system and the adoption of comprehensive efficiency measures in City buildings to lower power and gas bills. According to 2011 figures, the solar system has already cut the City’s power requirement by 10%. By replacing incandescent lamps in traffic lights and pedestrian crossing signals with LED technology, traffic signals are brighter, maintenance costs are lower and the City has experienced an 86% energy savings.
Awarded $478,000 in EECBG funds by the U.S. Department of Energy, the City used this money to replace a fifty-ton HVAC unit at the library with a newer, more energy-efficient model, resulting in 30,000 kilowatt hour energy savings yearly. City buildings were outfitted with energy efficient fluorescent lighting, occupancy sensors and reflective window film, which reduces energy output. Lastly, bi-level induction lighting was installed in the Civic Center parking structure, saving an estimated 275 kWh per fixture , totaling energy savings of 58,300 kWh per year.
Working with Southern California Edison and the Energy Coalition, Cathedral City is installing energy-saving bi-level induction lighting in the municipal parking structure. The installation of 212 fixtures will save thousands of dollars in energy costs. Southern California Edison has provided a monetary incentive of $9,540, or $45 per fixture, to help finance this project.
Cathedral City has been aligned with the Energy Coalition since 2004, when they teamed up to create the Community Energy Partnership, a program focused on educating low-income households regarding energy-saving tips and strategies. The Community Energy Partnership distributed energy-efficient fans and compact fluorescent light bulbs and performed energy upgrades in the Dream Homes neighborhood. These initiatives, plus educational outreach programs in the schools, helped to curtail high energy usage and save citizens money on utility bills.
The Community Energy Partnership is partly responsible for the recorded 1,052,604 in annual kilowatt Hour savings and 13,243 in annual thermal savings. Cathedral City continues to research new energy-efficient community projects, most recently installing 20 photovoltaic systems in the Dream Homes, provided by Grid Alternatives.
Back in 2008, Cathedral City joined other cities in the region to increase the power of the Coachella Valley Energy Conservation Initiative (CVEC), an organization with an unwavering goal to reduce per capita energy consumption by 10% by 2012. Currently, Cathedral City has surpassed this goal.
Supported by the Desert Cities Energy Partnership and Southern California Edison’s Green for Life Program, Cathedral City has adopted a 2012 Energy Action Plan which details realistic energy-related goals to be accomplished in the next five years.