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Tuesday, Jan 01 2013 12:01 AM

City looks into energy and transportation futures

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Linda Urata, Regional Planner for Kern COG presenting the Energy Action Plan to City Council. Photo by Ed Gordon / Tehachapi News

Through a grant from Southern California Edison and the Kern Council of Governments, the city of Tehachapi is one step closer to a new energy action plan.

A requirement of Assembly Bill 32 -- the Green House Gas Initiative-- the city has contracted with Environmental Science Associates to prepare its strategy, which is a precursor to the city's climate action plan, also a requirement of AB32.

In 2010, Kern County along with eight community service districts and five municipalities were awarded nearly $1.2 million to address energy use and develop a long-term strategic energy efficiency plan within government operations.

Largely aimed at a reduction in electrical usage, Tehachapi city staff expenses will be reimbursed up to $13,000 for the project.

And while Linda Urata, regional planner for KernCOG advised the council during her Nov. 27 presentation of the Kern Region Energy Action Plan that there were no present requirements for the city to reduce energy use within its municipal operations. She warned the council that within the next five years, it might be required to improve energy performance of city buildings and infrastructure, as well as its policies and procedures regarding energy consumption.

"I would think that cities that are pro-active in this are going to get a more favorable response from the government if they can see that your really trying to do something and trying to get the emissions down to that acceptable level," said outgoing city Mayor Ed Grimes. "If you have a plan, your going to be looked at favorably as far as grants."

In other actions, the council approved a list of recommendations presented by consultant Charles Clouse in regards to the existing Dial-A-Ride transit service.

Incremental fare hikes, a marketing program to gain ridership, the implementation of an aggressive cost containment program and a reduction in service hours were all on the list of the city's Transportation Development Plan, designed to support and manage the 26-percent increase in riders using the service over the past three years.

Among the challenges the city faces in providing public transportation is the state required 10-percent fare box, which requires 10 percent of the city-provided transportation operating and management costs to be paid for by the riders

"Historically the service has only been at about 3 to 3.5 percent," said Clouse who pointed out that recent passenger surveys indicated that there was some acceptance of increasing fares to meet the city's fare box ratio, although the vast majority would like to see them stay the same.

Finally, the council approved transfer of the parking lot at the corner of "F" and Robinson Streets from the Tehachapi Redevelopment successor agency to the city. Photo by Ed Gordon / Tehachapi News

Linda Urata, Regional Planner for Kern COG presenting the Energy Action Plan to City Council

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