sid voorakkara and rafael castellanos for port commissionThe San Diego City Council will be choosing two new City appointed members to the San Diego Port Commission today. EHC's 30 years of working with with the Port and representing our members who live in communities adjacent to the Port tidelands gives us an important perspective on these appointments. Port Commission decisions have a direct impact on the health and well-being of all residents who live near the San Diego Bay.

EHC supports appointments of Sid Voorakkara and Rafael Castellanos to the Port Commission. Mr. Voorakkara's considerable experience in job creation and public health make him uniquely qualified to ensure the Port acts consistent with community health. Mr. Castellanos' expertise in real estate transactions will be invaluable to ensure more green and sustainable business practices at the Port.

We believe San Diego Port Commissioners should have experience in green practices so that the Port grows and operates in a way that protects the health of neighboring community residents. They must have a commitment to public and worker health and safety, protecting San Diego Bay, and to making the Port a regional leader in energy policy.

Specifically, the community is looking to the Port to support projects and planning to offset negative impacts of Port operations on neighbors in Barrio Logan and passage of an effective Climate Mitigation and Adaptation Plan. These actions are crucial to meeting environmental and health goals of an exemplary Port. Sid and Rafael should surely be in line with these goals.

EHC opposes the appointment of Richard Vortmann based on the legacy of pollution he was responsible for as the President of NASSCO for over 20 years. During Mr. Vortmann's tenure, NASSCO fought efforts to clean up toxic sediment and fought regulation of water and air pollution from its leasehold without consideration of the impacts on the health of neighboring communities. His legacy is not one that the City Council should allow to be continued at the Port.

Winter is officially here, so we should be pro-active in reducing energy use before we turn our heaters and furnaces on. These simple tips will allow us to take control of our energy bills and be more responsible for our energy use. You can save money on utility bills and reduce demand on power plants to decrease greenhouse gasses.
leticia ayala winter energy saving tips web

  1. Layer your windows to keep drafts out and heat in. Use the existing drapes and curtains at night to add layers.
  2. Because winter-time brings more time indoors and less hours of sunlight. When we’re indoors, we should take advantage of natural light available. if you haven’t replaced all of your home’s incandescent bulbs with CFLs yet, make that one of your New Years resolutions. Replacing your bulbs can save 30% on your energy use immediately.
  3. Televisions, DVD players and Cell phones chargers all use energy even when they’re not being used This is called “vampire energy” To stop the Vampire from sucking your energy, use a smart power strip, which completely disconnects some appliances from taking energy from the outlet.
  4. Use a shower timer like this to ensure you take less than five-minute showers and avoid the temptation to take longer, hotter showers in the winter because it's cold. It takes a lot of energy to heat water, so you're paying more for your water bill and your energy bill.
  5. A refrigerator thermometer is helpful to ensure your refrigerator is operating properly. Best operating temperature to help save energy is at 28 degrees. Colder than that can waste energy and warmer than that may indicate that your door seals need to be replaced or you may need a new, more efficient appliance.
  6. One of your best tools is your energy bill. Read your energy bill and track your month-to-month usage and set conservation goals for you and your family. It’s fun to work together to save energy and save on our utility bills.

Happy Holidays everyone! Get outside, have fun and enjoy San Diego. If you have any questions or want information on free energy audits contact us at (619) 474-0220

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Joy WilliamsOne recent workday when I had to drive to work instead of taking the bus, I found myself, not surprisingly, stuck in traffic. However, I had some great news to think over as I inched along - EHC's statewide game-changing victory at the PUC. This victory will create more energy efficiency education in more homes and help produce more green jobs for San Diego and California

Just before I turned off the engine of my Prius, I looked at the thermometer – winter is coming and the evenings are getting cooler. But I knew that once I got in the house it would be nice and warm. Nice and warm not from heating the house all day, but from all the energy upgrades we have done over the past two years. We put in new windows, and the white glove guys at ASI tested our house and figured how to make our house energy efficient. We got a new furnace and new heating ducts, and we got new insulation to keep our indoor temperature moderate.

We also got a nice check from SDG&E to help cover our costs. (Thanks to the ratepayers for that! You and I are funding SDG&E's rebate program – the funds don’t come out of their profits or the goodness of their hearts. They are required to spend money to help people reduce energy use).

I walked to the front door thinking about our $37 SDGE bill that I had just opened—all smiles. And there, right in front of the door, was a box. I saw that SDG&E sent it. My first thought was to write "return to sender" on it and send it back, but curiosity got the better of me.

Inside were “eco friendly” gifts and a note thanking us for our energy upgrades. We got a ball cap and a t-shirt with the SDG&E logo and the statement that we are energy efficient. I like to wear hats and T-shirts, but I don’t like to wear black hats or black shirts.

Rule number one in being energy efficient: black clothes absorb heat and make you hotter; light colored clothes reflect heat and make you cooler.

I looked at the tags and found out that the shirt was made in the Dominican Republic.

Rule number two: to reduce fuel consumption, don’t buy clothes shipped long distances to reach you.

But there was more: plastic herb garden containers, a plastic lunch bag, and a plastic water bottle.

Rule number three in being energy efficient, don’t buy things you don’t need as it takes energy to make the product, energy to bring the product to you, and energy to bring the product to the landfill.

Memo to SDG&E:

We don’t want more “stuff.” Stuff creates greenhouse gases. Moving it around creates more. We also don’t want three more fossil fueled power plants in our region. What we DO WANT from SDG&E is for them to move quickly toward a sane energy future, with policies and resources that put local, renewable energy sources ahead of fossil fuels. EHC's victory at the PUC in early November established groundwork for those improvements. No, we didn't suggest that t-shirts be a different color, or that they give out lunch-boxes instead of lunch-bags. We said that low-income families benefit more from one-on-one education vs. radio commercials to help save energy. We said that more middle-income families like mine need access to energy upgrade rebates. We said to expand green job training and get people back to work.

Beyond our recent victory, I'd like SDG&E to get out of the way of progress and let localities form their own nonprofit electric cooperatives that offer choices to residents about what kinds of energy solutions they want.

That would be the perfect gift to thank me for energy conservation.

low-income-communities-san-diego-need-solar-tooI live in a condo in La Jolla and see solar installations sprinkled around my neighborhood. That's a good thing.

What would be better? If I looked around and saw solar on every rooftop in La Jolla— including my own— and in every neighborhood. That vision is both possible and feasible.

But despite the fact that costs are going down exponentially every year, new data from the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) shows that San Diego County is using less than 3% of the solar potential SDG&E estimates is possible.

What's worse is that on my bike ride down the coast to work, I see less and less solar as I glide through Pacific Beach, Mission Beach, and Downtown. And by the time I get to Barrio Logan and then my office in National City, I don't see any solar.

The NREL data shows that my eyes are not deceiving me and the green divide is very much a real thing. Low-income, highly polluted neighborhoods like Barrio Logan, Sherman Heights, and National City have very little solar compared to wealthier neighborhoods like La Jolla and Rancho Bernardo.  In fact, La Jolla has nearly 4 times as many solar installations and over 2 times the solar kilowatts as Barrio Logan, National City, and Sherman Heights COMBINED. Rancho Bernardo has nearly 7 times as many installations and 2.4 times the kW capacity as Barrio Logan, National City, and Sherman Heights combined.

Don't believe me? See for yourself by exploring The Open PV Project website.

We don't need to let our clean air, climate, health, and economy be threatened any longer by existing or new expensive dirty power plants like the ones recently proposed near University City and Mission Trails—which were supported by our own, purportedly "smart" utility, SDG&E.

There is huge untapped potential in San Diego's low-income neighborhoods, especially on commercial rooftops, and there's even still potential for more solar in La Jolla and Rancho Bernardo. We have the technical potential to meet the County's peak energy demand using just rooftop solar, according to study co-authored by SDG&E.

So what are we waiting for, San Diego? It's time for energy independence.

-Kayla Race

IMAGE CAPTION: A visual display of the solar divide: The region's highest-income areas like La Jolla, Rancho Bernardo, and Scripps Ranch, and the City of Del Mar pop out in dark red, indicating the highest numbers of solar installations per capita. Lower-income neighborhoods in the City of San Diego, like Barrio Logan, Sherman Heights, and City Heights, are left in the dust with light yellow indicating their dismal number of solar installation. Click on the image to get a full-sized image.