In an effort to help fight global warming, the city of Davis has vowed to stop selling or using disposable water bottles at city events or city concession stands.
One idea was to sell reusable water bottles with the city logo on one side and instructions on how to reduce greenhouse gas emissions on the other side.
Even City Councilmember Don Saylor seemed to acknowledge it was symbolic:
“In some ways, this resolution will be largely symbolic, a way for the public to see us doing something… It’s a way to get the word out. Every small thing makes a difference.”
One intriguing aspect that I would like to see the city do is what they did at the Whole Earth Festival–in addition to no disposable cups, they also charged a deposit on all plates and cups so that people would return them for them to be composted. No reason that the city as a whole cannot adopt those policies and not just for city sponsored events.
However, you will forgive me if I say that I have grown tired of this city council’s rhetoric on global warming.
Last spring, there was a long and lengthy debate over whether a new housing development ought to be required to install solar panels on the roofs. Such an endeavor would add a large cost of perhaps $20,000 to the property, but that would have a very real impact on greenhouse gas emissions. Much more than say, banning the city from using disposable cups.
Along those lines this week, the City of Berkeley put Davis in its place and showed Davis who was the boss and the leader in terms of environmental thinking. I know there is a natural resentment in Davis to anything Berkeley. My only response to that is to get over it.
According to an article yesterday in the San Francisco Chronicle,
“Berkeley is set to become the first city in the nation to help thousands of its residents generate solar power without having to put money up front – attempting to surmount one of the biggest hurdles for people who don’t have enough cash to go green.
The City Council will vote Nov. 6 on a plan for the city to finance the cost of solar panels for property owners who agree to pay it back with a 20-year assessment on their property. Over two decades, the taxes would be the same or less than what property owners would save on their electric bills, officials say.”
Now officials in San Francisco, Santa Cruz, Santa Monica, and some state agencies are looking into the plan. Where is Davis on this list?
“This is how Berkeley’s program would work:
A property owner would hire a city-approved solar installer, who would determine the best solar system for the property, depending on energy use. Most residential solar panel systems in the city cost from $15,000 to $20,000.
The city would pay the contractor for the system and its installation, minus any applicable state and federal rebates, and would add an assessment to the property owner’s tax bill to pay for the system.
The extra tax would include administrative fees and interest, which would be lower than what the property owner could obtain on his own, because the city would secure low-interest bonds and loans, officials say. The tax would stay with the property even if the owner sold, although the owner would have to leave the solar panels.
The property owner would save money on monthly Pacific Gas & Electric bill because electricity generated by the solar panels would partly replace electricity delivered by the utility. After the assessment expired, the solar panels – of a simple technology that requires little or no maintenance – would continue to partly replace PG&E electricity.
Bates’ chief of staff, Cisco DeVries, came up with the idea about eight months ago when he was looking for ways the city could meet its goals to reduce greenhouse gas emissions under a measure that Berkeley voters approved last year. Measure G mandates that the city cut its greenhouse gas emissions 80 percent by 2050…
If the plan succeeds, Berkeley would be about 10 percent closer to its Measure G target, Burroughs said. Solar panels shouldn’t be a tough sell in Berkeley, he said, which already has more solar systems per capita than any other Northern California city.”
I actually think that is a conservative guess as to how much the taxpayer/ ratepayer might save on electricity. For instance, I know someone who installed solar panels, and now does not have an electricity bill from PG&E. That is probably not realistic for some, but the amount of cost mitigated by solar panels would make sense over the long term. However, many people do not have a 20 year or even 10 year interest, the city of course does.
This is something that the city of Davis ought to look into if they are serious about moving being symbolic measures and wish to help lead the way toward green energy and reductions of greenhouse gases.
—Doug Paul Davis reporting