From Crisis, a Lasting Solution for Ventura County
California’s energy crisis in the early 2000s left many people dealing with rolling blackouts and higher prices. Counties were left wondering if and how they would be able to provide essential services to their communities. In response, Ventura County Supervisor Kathy Long created the Ventura County Regional Energy Alliance, a Joint Powers Authority (JPA) composed of public agencies working in collaboration to approach the availability, reliability, and conservation of energy resources in the area.
Since then, the Alliance (VCREA) has worked diligently to assist its member cities and business in seeking incentives to promote energy efficiency projects. VCREA also provides assistance and consultation to help cities and businesses identify savings and prioritize projects to reduce greenhouse gas emission. And the collaboration seems to be working.
“The staff at VCREA is incredible,” said Steve Sanders, sustainability program director for the Institute for Local Government (ILG). “While each city and the county implemented these projects, you can see how the leadership of VCREA and the county has helped spearhead efforts and add capacity for the local agencies to gather and use the data to make effective decisions about implementing projects that reduce energy and greenhouse gas emissions.” CSAC is one of the ILG’s parent organizations.
In the past five years, the Ventura County region has saved over 26 million kilowatt-hours of electricity and 60,000 therms of natural gas, savings equal to more than $60,000 in incentives from the utilities that help offset the project cost.
All of the JPA’s member agencies joined the Institute for Local Government’s Beacon Program this year, and all received award recognition. The County of Ventura and the ten cities within the county collected a total of 26 awards for achievements in saving energy, reducing greenhouse gas emissions and adopting policies and practices that contribute to a more sustainable community.
VCREA became a Beacon Program Champion at the beginning of this year and was recently honored as the Beacon Program Partner of the Year at CSAC’s Annual Conference in Palm Springs for its efforts to promote energy efficiency and sustainability in the region.
“I am proud that VCREA was recognized as a Beacon Program Champion this year,” said Supervisor Kathy Long. “This recognition is a testament to our success as a viable regional alliance. By working together, we have an empowered community that actively engages in conservation, efficiency, and renewable initiatives. And more, VCREA efforts have truly established our region as a leader in the development and implementation of durable, sustainable energy initiatives.”
The VCREA is just a part of Supervisor Long’s legacy. She was also recognized individually at CSAC’s Annual Meeting with a Distinguished Service Award for her 20 years of service on the Ventura County Board of Supervisors and her commitment to California Counties. She has been a member of the CSAC Executive Committee, Board of Directors, and served as Chair for numerous policy committees. She is retiring at the end of this year.
To learn more about Ventura County’s sustainability efforts visit www.ca-ilg.org/VenturaCounty. To learn more about how to help promote sustainability efforts in your county, please visit www.ca-ilg.org/Beacon.
The Institute for Local Government’s goal is to assist local leaders to govern openly, effectively and ethically, work collaboratively and foster healthy and sustainable communities. CSAC is one of its parent organizations.