MCE seeks input on ranchland programs

08/07/2014

Marin Clean Energy, the nonprofit agency that partners with PG&E to provide renewable energy for the county, will hold a community workshop on Aug. 13 to solicit ideas for improving energy efficiency on West Marin’s dairies, ranches and farms, to help the organization design a program to incentivize wise energy use. The nonprofit annually rolls out energy efficiency programs that are certified by the Calif;ornia Public Utility Commission and is working on programs to start 2016 for all county residents. The West Marin event will help the group develop an understanding of the possibilities and challenges for those working the land. “We’re very much in the exploratory phase, so we want people to come out and tell us what the reality is for them,” said Beckie Menten, the director of energy efficiency. For instance, she said, how efficient are current pumps, motors and water systems on the land, and are there ways to help agriculturalists build structures that produce as much energy as they consume? The 2016 energy efficiency program could end up offering financial incentives for improvements, or creating certificate programs for those who can prove conscientious energy use. Nancy Scolari, the executive director of the Marin Resource Conservation District, said she has worked with local dairies (which need more infrastructure than beef ranches) on energy-saving projects, and the Straus and Giacomini dairies both have methane digesters. But she’s interested to hear what new ideas the workshop produces. “I’m anxious to hear what they have to say,” she said. The workshop will be held at the Dance Palace Community Center on Aug. 13, from 6 to 7:30 p.m.