MINUTES FOR THE ASHLAND CONSERVATION COMMISSION
Wednesday, November 28, 2018
Siskiyou Room, 51 Winburn Way
1. Call to Order
Chair Roxane Beigel-Coryell called the meeting to order at 6:04 p.m. Commissioners Risa Buck, Marni Koopman, Jamie Rosenthal, and Bryan Sohl were present. Staff liaison Adam Hanks and Council liaison Stef Seffinger were also present. Commissioners James McGinnis and David Sommer were absent.
2. Commission Vacancies Update
Beigel-Coryell announced that there were still two vacancies on the Commission. Hanks stated that two people have applied since the October meeting. Beigel-Coryell stated that one of the applicants she encouraged to apply, but might not be able to commit to a three-year term as the applicant will be graduating in June.
3. Consent Agenda
Beigel-Coryell asked if there were any corrections on the consent agenda item for the September 26, 2018 minutes. Buck moved to approve the minutes with Koopman providing a second. The motion passed with all in favor.
4.1 Next Regular Meeting: December 19th
Beigel-Coryell announced that because of the holidays the December meeting will be held on week earlier on Wednesday, December 19th. The time and location is staying the same. Beigel-Coryell also asked if anyone will be absent to please let her and Hanks know in a timely manner. Koopman stated that she would not be able to attend the early December meeting. Hanks informed the Commission that Julie Smitherman, Water Conservation Analyst, would be attending the December meeting.
4.2 Upcoming Sub-Committee Meetings
Buck stated that the Waste Prevention Sub-committee will meet after the meeting to discuss scheduling one for the sub-committee.
4.3 Other Announcements from Commissioners
Rosenthal announced that Recology is having its final leaf drop day on Sunday, December 9 from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Beigel-Coryell stated that Southern Oregon University (SOU) will have finals week next week and most students will be leaving for their break after. No other Commissioners had updates for this meeting.
5. Public Forum
Marion Moore – just applied for one of the vacancies on the Conservation Commission and was excited to be considered for one of the positions.
Ann Barton – was happy to see some of the same members from the ad hoc Climate Energy and Action Plan Committee (CEAP 1). She also mentioned that there is a thread on the Nextdoor app about two stroke engine leaf blowers. The consensus is to get rid of these leaf blowers City wise based on greenhouse gas emissions, noise, and health effects. Barton, who is a part of the Southern Oregon Pachamama Alliance Community’s Drawdown group, announced that in March the group is planning a two-day workshop in Medford with Steve Schein. The workshop will be about reducing restaurant waste. Barton asked if the Commissioners knew any Ashland restaurants who might be interested and that they could contact herself or Lorraine Cook from the Southern Oregon Pachamama Alliance Community.
Buck commented that the Commission recently started a sub-committee looking at educating and possibly incentivizing electric landscaping equipment throughout the City. Hanks stated that there will be an article in the Sneak Preview’s Conservation Corner for the March about the sub-committees work and educating the public. This draft will be available at the January meeting.
Huelz Gutcheon – The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change released a dire report a few months ago with grim news on the current climate assessment. Gutcheon emphasized that the State of Oregon has state wide planning goals and guidelines. According to Gutcheon, the Planning Commission is focused on Goal 10 Housing, but seems to be ignoring Goal 13 Energy Conservation. Gutcheon believes that Goal 13 should be a priority for the Planning Commission.
6.1 Council Liaison Update
Councilor Seffinger has been discussing the final recommendation of the Climate Energy and Action Plan Implementation Committee (CEAP 2) to Council with Stu Green, Climate and Energy Analyst. The discussion involves how a permanent CEAP Commission could coexist with even benefit the Conservation Commission. CEAP 2 will give their formal recommendation to the City Council in the next couple of months and a draft of the proposed Commission Ordinances. Hanks added that the recommendation will probably occur in either a January or February Council meeting.
6.2 City Operations/Administration
Hanks updated the Commission on the status of the 10 by 20 request for proposal (RFP). The RFP has been tabled after an internal meeting concluded that City staff should meet with Bonneville Power Administration (BPA) to discuss the City’s contract before moving forward. The main concern is the “take or pay” provision that requires the City, as a full requirements customer, to get all of electric power supply from BPA. If the City does not, they will still have to pay for their full power load amount to BPA regardless if the power is coming from alternative sources. This provision does allow for the City to pay the lowest price for the electric power it receives from BPA. Seffinger commented that the current BPA contract expires in 2028. Hanks informed the Commission that there are potential other ways to meet the 10 by 20 through utilizing community solar and smaller, decentralized renewable energy production, just not a large solar farm as originally proposed.
Hanks also updated the Commission on community solar within the City and a solar cooperative group. This coop group does not need a virtual net metering program as the host or site of the renewable energy system gets a 10% discount on their electric rates through the cooperative. The group is looking at two different models for raising funds: one for investors and another for subscribers. This aligns with the City’s intention to facilitate all renewable energy and energy efficiency proposals that can work in collaboration and help Ashland residents have a cleaner energy mix.
The City is seeing the electric vehicle (EV) incentives being utilized by residents. The program also gives the City data about residents switching to electric which helps the City get an early notice about registrations. This notice can help match to the State’s credit program for EVs.
The City’s website now has an Energy Efficiency Home Analysis Tool allowing residents to complete a survey about their energy use by using pictures of the actual appliances and lights in their home. The survey also shows residents how they can save by making upgrades and giving discounts for those upgrades. The survey can be accessed by going to http://ashland.eeaudit.com/.
Hanks mentioned that the City is putting out a request for qualifications (RFQ) for an energy services company (ESCO) in the next week or two. The hope is to have one selected in late January. An ESCO would help the City with funding and project managing of energy efficiency and renewable energy projects within City facilities.
Seffinger added that since there are some new members to the City Council, they will be having a strategic planning session before the next budget cycle. Hanks clarified that it will focus on goal setting before the budget cycle with will occur in late March and early April and have a more time for strategic planning later.
7. Old Business
7.1 Commission Monthly Column in Sneak Preview
• January – EMPOWER Ashland (Hanks and Green for CEAP)
Beigel-Coryell let Hanks know that he and Stu Green can submit whenever they like.
• February – EVA and EV Empower (Koopman and Green)
Koopman will work with Green about revitalizing the article to remind people about the EV and charger incentive as well as Electric Vehicles for Ashland. Hanks mentioned the possibility of the City offering car chargers at businesses in the future, but there are a lot of issues to work out for that to happen. Beigel-Coryell reminded that this article is due at the December meeting for approval.
• March – Electric Yard/Landscape Equipment (McGinnis and Sommers)
Beigel-Coryell reminded that this article will need to be ready and approved at the January meeting.
• April – Hazardous Waste (Rosenthal)
Beigel-Coryell reminded that this article will be approved at the February meeting.
• May – Water Conservation/Supply (water sub-committee with Julie Smitherman)
Beigel-Coryell stated that the draft will need to be ready for the March meeting for approval. Buck stated that Smitherman will be attending the next month’s meeting with a presentation and could discuss it with her then.
7.2 Sub-committee Updates
Buck met with Smitherman last month and discussed the residential laundry to landscape program. Currently, participants are required to pay $40 a year to Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) if they do not fill out the application in a timely manner. Smitherman is hoping to work with DEQ to get information on participants so she can reach out to participants and help them with the program since DEQ currently does not have an outreach program. The program also gives City data on participants’ usage.
• Air Quality
Hanks stated that Sommers gave a good update last meeting about the new sub-committee’s progress. They are looking into possible incentives or discounts for landscape contractors to buy electric equipment from local stores. The sub-committee will probably focus more on educating and outreach to the public since incentives for smaller equipment is not usually funded. The March article will probably focus on best practices for users.
• Waste Prevention
Beigel-Coryell updated that this sub-committee is expanding the downtown recycling program. They have already reached out to a few businesses to sponsor and take care of baskets in front of their businesses. Beigel-Coryell also said that they are hoping to get Rogue Valley Transportation District (RVTD) on board for their downtown stop trash cans.
The Straws on Demand program is looking to expand with some improved and streamlined marketing materials from the City. Hanks will follow up with Green on the production of these tent cards and other materials as needed. The sub-committee is also waiting to hear about the DEQ grant for reusable to-go boxes hopefully by next month.
Buck announced concerns about businesses not compiling with the bag ban requirements. Currently, businesses are okay with not using plastic bags, but are not charging for other types of bags. Hanks has been updating Andrew Barrow, Code Compliance Specialist, about the Ordinance and how to enforce it. Because of the smoky summer some downtown businesses are hoping from a compromise from the City on charging ten cents per bag. Some discussion surrounded about increasing or decreasing the charge as well as having a sponsored reusable bag by multiple local businesses.
8. New Business
• DEQ Materials Management Grant Application Update
Beigel-Coryell made this update under the Waste Prevention sub-committee section above.
• CEAP 2.0 Committee Update
Seffinger announced that the Committee is hoping to have the proposed Commission Ordinances accepted by Council after their final recommendation, so implementation of both can start. The recommendation will create a permanent CEAP Commission and change the Conservation Commission’s charge to prevent overlap. EMPOWER Ashland outreach program is also moving forward with the goal of impacting community use and reduction. Koopman asked if the committee and possible permanent CEAP Commission has a plan for meeting 8% of target in the CEAP plan. Hanks stated that the update on greenhouse gas inventory is mainly done by Stu Green with the help from the Good Company who initially put together the first greenhouse gas inventory. This will include comparative data from the first inventory and that 8% will be in the greenhouse gas cycle.
• CEAP 2.0 Permanent Commission Draft Ordinance
• Conservation Commission Powers/Duties Draft Ordinance
Sohl asked for clarification that the Ordinances will outline different responsibilities between Conservation (outreach focused) and a permanent CEAP (technical and policy focused). Hanks confirmed this difference and emphasized that the hope is that the Conservation Commission will be able to utilize and implement the EMPOWER plan. The idea is that each Commission will meet every other month with the same staff member and possibly some members from both Commissions to help with continuity and communication. Sub-committees of both would have more time to meet between meetings. Sub-committees could also present to other Commissions for increased communication and integration.
Sohl asked if members of each current group would continue with its current members. Hanks stated that the practical way would be to ask current members if they would like to continue with this new charge and fill in the any vacancies with appointments. Hanks stated that if accepted this would probably be implemented in May or June. Sohl moved to approve the recommendation of the draft Ordinance for the Conservation Commission provided by CEAP 2 for Council. Koopman provided a second. The motion passed with all members in favor.
8. Wrap Up
8.1 Items to be added to next agenda
Hanks reminded that Julie Smitherman will be presenting at the next meeting. Any members who would like to add something to the agenda need to email Beigel-Coryell and Hanks. Also if any members cannot make it to please let them know. Hanks will copy Sohl on future air quality sub-committee meetings. Beigel-Coryell adjourned the meeting at 7:52 p.m.
• If any members plan on being absent for the December meeting, let Beigel-Coryell and Hanks know in a timely manner.
• Koopman will work with Green about revitalizing the February Sneak Preview article (due in December) to remind people about the EV and charger incentive as well as Electric Vehicles for Ashland.
• Hanks will follow up with Green on the production of the Straws on Demand tent cards and other materials as needed.
• If any members who would like to add something to the agenda, email Beigel-Coryell and Hanks before the next meeting in a timely manner, need to email Roxane or Adam.
• Hanks will copy Sohl on future air quality sub-committee meetings.