by Arlin Robins
Our April meeting of the El Cerrito Democratic Club was very well attended. Our current Mayor, Mark Friedman gave a presentation on the state of the city. He listed the city’s 6 main goals and how the accomplishments of the last year are helping to meet and further those goals. He touched briefly on the SPASP, the switch to MCE for electricity and the very harsh smoke limitations. The goal of a sustainable future is not yet accomplished. The city faces challenges such as a need for a new public safety building, staff vacancies, compensation and retention, vacant commercial properties, deferred maintenance on city facilities and lack of financial reserves.
The Mayor listed the upcoming opportunities for our city:
- A new Library/Community Center/Senior Center
- Ohlone Greenway improvements
- Total Remodel of the E.C. Del Norte Bart station
- Increase in the minimum wage – Supervisor John Gioia is heading the task force
- A Just Cause Eviction ordinance
Mark told us that funding from Cap & Trade will be growing and contributing to affordable housing. He also suggested that anyone interested in more information on transit oriented development should contact Rebecca Salzman.
The second presentation of the night was given by Ben Choi from Marin Clean Energy.
MCE was formed in Marin City in 2008 and began serving in 2010 (165,000 customers) It is a Not-for-Profit agency, designed to provide up to 100% renewable energy sources for our electricity. They take over procurement of the energy, providing it through PG&E’s infrastructure and billing directly. Emergency services are still handled through PG&E, but by working with MCE, we are removing demand for dirty energy sources. MCE calculated that in the 1st 4 years of service, approximately 60,000 tons of pollution was removed from the environment. This equals 2 acres per E.C. household of forest planted.
Mr. Choi explained that they answer to 17 communities, through the board of directors. Each community elects an official to act on the board.
Customers are able to choose a level of energy provided. 100% renewable is referred to as Deep Green. MCE provides Deep Green service to 365 households as of the meeting date.