City of Watsonville Adopts Ordinance for Carbon Fund Program

The City of Watsonville in Santa Cruz County made an innovative move earlier this week, and adopted both its new Climate Action Plan (CAP), and a Carbon Fund Ordinance to fund Plan implementation.

Watsonville’s CAP describes how the Plan is a strategy to develop existing City commitments across many different issues – including the environment, transportation, health, and sanitation. The CAP also compares the greenhouse gas inventories that the City had completed for the years 2005 and 2010, and finds that the City achieved a 14% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions.

The City has already implemented a number of climate and energy-saving projects, including streetlight conversion to LEDs, building lighting retrofits, solar installations at three City buildings, a municipal fuel-efficient vehicles policy, and efficient solid waste procedures. The City has implemented a green buildings ordinance, and energy compliance efforts. The City also participates in the Association of Monterey Bay Area Governments (AMBAG) Energy Watch local government partnership with PG&E, leveraging the partnership’s

Among the new projects and programs proposed in the CAP are promotion and outreach for business participation in Energy Watch program offerings, a net zero fee for new construction, deployment of energy management systems, and expansion of clean energy deployment and community choice aggregation.

Per the City’s website, the “Carbon Fund Ordinance establishes a Carbon Fee to be charged to all development projects except single family residential alterations, temporary buildings, and/or building area that is not used as conditioned space.

“The goal of the Carbon Fund Ordinance is to encourage the implementation of renewable energy in development projects. The money collected from the Carbon Fund Fee are placed in a separate account to be used for citywide greenhouse gas reduction projects.”

The language of the ordinance is available here. A FAQ sheet is also available, on the City’s website here. For more local governments considering or using separately allocated funds to implement their climate, energy, and sustainability goals, click here.

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