RePower Humboldt

NEW The Redwood Coast Energy Authority and SERC have released final versions of the RePower Humboldt Strategic Plan and related documents. Download the documents using the links to the right.

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RePower Humboldt is an effort to build a Renewable Energy Secure Community, or a RESCO.  A RESCO is a concept defined by the California Energy Commission:  it refers to a community that has developed its local renewable energy resources, including energy efficiency and conservation, in an effort to meet its local energy needs and to secure its sustainable energy future at minimal costs to energy consumers.  Developing local renewable energy resources as the primary means of meeting local energy needs will provide energy, environmental and economic security to our community, potentially including:

  • Less reliance on energy sources from outside the area and from foreign sources.
  • More predictable, less volatile energy prices.
  • Less reliance on fossil fuels and thus less susceptibility to the impacts of “peak oil.”
  • Reduced greenhouse gas emissions.
  • Creation of local jobs and local economic stimulus.
  • More money re-circulating in the local economy.

Because of these benefits, communities throughout the country are looking for ways to develop local energy resources and achieve a clean energy future.

Humboldt County has the ability to lead the way toward a sustainable energy future by using local renewable resources to meet the majority of its electricity needs and a large portion of its heating and transportation energy needs.  However, to accomplish this task effectively, efficiently, and economically will require comprehensive planning.  Such a planning effort should look ahead beyond the next one or two proposed energy projects, and instead should consider long-term implications.  It should look to identify optimal mixes of available resources.  It should answer key questions, such as “Which resources can be developed most cost-effectively? Does one resource complement another?  Can a combination of resources provide a more reliable and cost-effective solution than the development of just one resource?” These types of questions can and should be considered in a comprehensive planning process.

The purpose of the RePower Humboldt study is to begin addressing these kinds of questions. The study is a collaborative effort of the Redwood Coast Energy Authority, the Schatz Energy Research Center at Humboldt State University, and the Pacific Gas & Electric Company. Principal funding came from the California Energy Commission, with match funding from each of the three participating organizations.

The RePower Humboldt study included a thorough analysis of the technical and economic implications of renewable energy development in Humboldt County and involved the following key tasks:

  • Assess Resource and Technology Options
  • Conduct Economic Analysis
  • Examine Development, Financing and Ownership Options
  • Examine Regulatory and Political Issues
  • Conduct Stakeholder Analysis

The RePower Humboldt strategic plan summarizes the key findings and recommendations of the study and charts a course for near- and long-term activities that can help Humboldt County realize its shared community vision for a sustainable energy future.

It is important to note that the RePower Humboldt study examined energy policy options primarily from the perspective of local renewable resource development and technology-based energy-demand reduction measures, with the aim of reducing greenhouse gas emissions, increasing energy security and increasing local economic activity.  However, there are of course other policy areas that should be considered when seeking to achieve these goals, including land use planning, transportation planning, waste reduction, public transit, non-motorized travel modes, and carbon sequestration through forest management, among others. The fact that these additional topic areas were beyond the scope of the RePower Humboldt project is in no way intended to minimize their importance. They deserve to be studied and pursued in their own right. Most, if not all, of these options would likely complement the alternatives examined in the RePower Humboldt study.