A flurry of activity continues on the Humboldt County Renewable Energy Secure Community (RESCO) project. We have completed the bulk of our engineering and economic analyses and are preparing interim project reports on each of these tasks. Key lessons learned from our work to date are: (1) we can meet a large portion of our energy needs using local renewable energy resources; (2) we can do this at a modest overall cost increase; (3) we can greatly reduce our greenhouse gas emissions; and (4) renewable energy development will result in a substantial net increase in local jobs and economic output.
These are exciting results. In nearly all scenarios we have examined there are a number of resources and technologies that rise to the top. These include energy efficiency, biomass, wind, small hydroelectric power, and the adoption of electric vehicles and heat pumps. We are now working with our stakeholder group to identify community preferences regarding how we should proceed. This information will guide the development of the RESCO strategic plan and the pursuit of near-term next steps.
In addition to our analysis work we have begun to engage the community in our RESCO planning efforts. In December and March we delivered RESCO presentations as part of the Sustainable Futures Speaker Series at Humboldt State University. Then, in April, we delivered a RESCO presentation at the annual PlanIt Green Conference and solicited audience input on their preferred decision criteria and preferred energy options. And, with a keen eye to the future, we engaged a youth stakeholder group that developed their own RESCO vision statement and RESCO decision criteria. The RESCO youth stakeholder group was led by Shanna Atherton, a VISTA volunteer and the Education and Outreach Coordinator at the Redwood Coast Energy Authority, and Jordan Ludtke, a senior at Eureka High School. Kudos to the great job they have done engaging our local youth in the creation of their energy future.
Note that this community engagement work will continue through the fall of this year, so stay tuned for your opportunity to get involved in Humboldt County’s renewable energy future.