Napa County is seeking grant funding to create a local
carbon-offset program, the centerpiece of its initiative to reduce
greenhouse emissions in its unincorporated areas.
The program would allow commercial and vineyard developers to
calculate their projects’ carbon emissions, and then pay into a
fund that would support local energy conservation, habitat
restoration and land conservation as a way to offset those
Developers would purchase carbon credits through the program,
which would act as a bank account to dole out money to various
projects aimed at reducing carbon emissions.
Steve Lederer, director of the Department of Environmental
Management, is asking the county Board of Supervisors to support an
application to a grant program run by the California Strategic
Growth Council that could provide up to $600,000 in seed money to
create and establish the Napa County Carbon Reserve, which would be
an independent nonprofit.
The grant would run from April of this year until December 2013,
according to a report from county staff. After that, a small amount
of general fund money would be needed to continue to pay for the
program, according to the county.
Allison Joe, a senior planner in Gov. Jerry Brown’s Office of
Planning and Research, said local governments throughout California
have until Feb. 15 to apply for this round of grant money, but
wasn’t sure how many had applied.
Speaking to the Napa County Planning Commission last month,
Lederer highlighted the proposed offset program as one of the most
significant parts of the county’s climate action plan, which aims
to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in the unincorporated areas 15
percent below their 2005 levels by 2020.
Actions by the state government account for about 70 percent of
the county’s reductions. The remaining 30 percent will come from 35
proposed actions the county could take, with about half of that
coming from the offset program.
The commission voted unanimously to approve the plan. It will
likely go to the Board of Supervisors in late March for a vote on
approval and adoption.
The county would partner with the city of Napa, as well as
nonprofit Sustainable Napa County and other stakeholders, to
establish the reserve.
The reserve could fund projects to retrofit homes to save
energy, encourage transit use to reduce the number of cars on the
road, restore habitats, preserve forest and develop alternative
energy projects. Every city in the county would be eligible to
participate in the reserve, according to the staff report.
The report notes that the use of offset programs, which operate
in carbon markets, has faltered nationally because of technical
difficulties and problems with their public perception.
The county advocates establishing a local program because
larger-scale programs, which operate nationally and globally, can
be cost-prohibitive for local individuals and businesses. Also,
non-local programs can be difficult to verify and would lack local
The report notes that some developers would be able to find
alternatives to a local offset program through their own
emissions-reducing initiatives, such as installing alternative
energy generators or implementing transit programs, but others
would have to buy carbon credits.
Without a local program, that money would go to the larger-scale
programs, depriving Napa County of money for economic investment,
according to the report.