The City of Newport Beach has long-recognized the importance of promoting energy conservation and implementing energy-saving measures and has taken a number of critical steps on its path to becoming a more sustainable community. The City’s straightforward strategy involves:
- Decreasing the energy consumption of the City’s own facilities.
- Developing partnerships with utility companies and other cities to leverage resources
- Conducting community outreach to educate and inform residents and businesses.
Decreasing the City’s Energy Consumption
Newport Beach has taken a proactive role in implementing energy-reduction measures in its facilities whenever possible and as funding permits. A critical component of these efforts involves seeking assistance and leveraging available resources such as obtaining grants from the federal government (i.e., Energy Efficiency and Conservation Block Grant), incentives from utility companies, and assistance from energy partnerships with Southern California Edison (SCE) and Southern California Gas Company (SCG). The City has also conducted technical audits of its key, energy-consuming facilities to aid in the development of its energy efficiency and conservation tactics.
To date, the City has completed a number of energy-saving improvements to its facilities. These include LED streetlight retrofits through the City’s Streetlight Conversion Master Plan, LEED-certified buildings, implementation of solar technology, HVAC retro-commissioning, and “variable frequency drive” installation at the City’s water production facilities, just to name a few.
It also has a healthy pipeline of projects planned. For example, tracking year-to-year energy use at Newport Beach facilities is important and the City is establishing a system that will help track its usage and expenditures for each of its energy-using accounts. This tracking mechanism will have the capability to tell stakeholders and decision makers how recent energy action steps have impacted energy use.
Further, the City recently prepared an Energy Action Plan to serve as its roadmap to sustainability through reducing the amount of energy used in City facilities and operations by 15 percent by the year 2020. This equates to over 3 million kWh of electricity and 8,000 therms of natural gas.
City staff is encouraged to participate in energy efficiency trainings and workshops to learn about the latest techniques and technologies. Utility companies like SCE and SCG offer a number of free training opportunities and free webinars are typically available through Energy Star, the California Energy Commission and others.
In 2011, Newport Beach entered into a joint partnership with SCE, SCG, and the Cities of Huntington Beach, Fountain Valley, Westminster and Costa Mesa via the Orange County Cities Energy Leadership Partnership Program. The partnership leverages funding to invest in energy efficiency projects, outreach and education. It also provides integrated technical and financial assistance to help local governments effectively lead their communities to increase energy efficiency, reduce greenhouse gas emissions, protect air quality, and ensure that communities are sustainable.
Conducting Community Outreach
Community-wide energy awareness and outreach programs are essential to achieving the City’s energy-reduction goals. The City has looked to its partnership resources and other funding opportunities to develop its outreach efforts. These efforts include:
- Having City staff and utility company representatives distribute information at local events (i.e., Race for the Cure)
- Developing information to disseminate in the City’s utility bill inserts and at local community/HOA meetings
- Participating in programs like the SCE Direct Install program which provides no-cost energy upgrades to small business owner.
The City also created a “green” section on its website to provide citizens with easy access to information on what to do to make their homes or businesses more energy efficient and who to contact for support. It contains various links to useful resources and incentives.
The City of Newport Beach is committed to creating an environment of energy awareness and sustainability within its community. For more information, please visit www.newportbeachca.gov.
Written by Keith Curry, is the Mayor of the City of Newport Beach California. He has served on the city council since 2006. He also serves on the Orange County Parks Commission, Orange County Sanitation District Board of Directors and is the President of the Association of California Cities Orange County. Curry is a visiting professor, and Director of the Center for Public Policy at Concordia University.